Sunday, January 25, 2009

Is asshole a new meme?

Poetry people are tossing around the word "asshole" every which way on blogs at the moment. (I really don't want to link to anything in particular, but you can Google the words asshole & poetry if you need examples.) I'm not saying the poetry world ought to be (for lack of a better word) quiet - but is asshole some kind of new po-biz meme? In investigating the matter I checked out a disambiguated Wikipedia entry for the word - well worth reading, albeit unillustrated. Poets seem to be a bit out of touch, though: the entry says "asshat" is more up-to-date. And "asstard" is up-and-coming. The a-word itself has been in use, according to the OED, since 1500 - but only since 1933 to refer to a contemptible person. It coincides with Modernism, oddly enough! The illustration here, by the way, is just a black hole in front of the Milky Way - civility has disappeared into it.

10 comments:

Brooklyn said...

I prefer asshat. And asshatism and asshatery. I think I'm part of the younger generation helping to usher in the new... "asshole" is a word that makes a point, but it remains my parents' word, kinda like using "God bless it!" as a curse and calling a man a "Sonuvabitch."

:)

Lemon Hound said...

Good Lord.

I really do think the internet has reached its peak. I'm looking forward to the ways in which other discussions will start to occur again.

Elsewhere. Speaking of which: are you going to AWP?

Don Share said...

I knew I could count on you guys! And thanks for the fresh perspective, Brooklyn!!

Hm, AWP: wonder what the A stands for...

Zachariah Wells said...

Always well ahead of the curve, M. Artur Rimbaud:

http://www.mag4.net/Rimbaud/poesies/Idole.html

the unreliable narrator said...

I'm an asshatter myself, though no longer technically a "younger" poet (per Yale anyway). Also partial to dingledodie, which I think comes from Kerouac.

NB however that Squandermania is now hit #10 on this particular Google search! Beware the aweful powers of teh Interwebs.

Lemon Hound said...

Powerful indeed, and who knows what you're attracting to your site, Don.

Anonymous said...

Of possible related interest (excrement is mentioned), one of the liveliest and most fraught debates ever conducted around the subject of Flarf is now ongoing at Dale Smith's Possum Ego. http://www.possumego.blogspot.com/

Highly recommended. Most of it is down a few posts, with nearly 50 comments so far.

Kent

Don Share said...

Good catch, Zachary. I only looked into the English-language history, a mistake. Thank you!

Well, the backlash has begun. I guess I shoulda kept my blogomouth shut!

Zachariah Wells said...

For those unable to appreciate the exquisite French:

http://www.mag4.net/Rimbaud/poesies/Idol.html

Not the best English version I've seen, but it suffices. And of course, I neglected to say that the poem is the fruit of Rimbaud and Verlaine's ... collaboration.

ib said...

I prefer the word "asshole".

It's probably part of the same thought process which prevents me calling a spade a "spaaude".

If you're so uncomfortable about being mistaken for one of your grandparents, find another expletive and try it on for size.