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.