Links From This Episode
Listen & Subscribe
The word fuck is emotive.
Associations people hold with the word often mean it causes an affront to their morality and ethical ideas around the proper use of language.
The more prudish amongst us say fuck is a rude word and shrink at the sound of it.
They find the use of it abhorrent.
I heard it said that writers who use fuck in their work have little inherent ability. They use it perhaps to make up for their lack of skill.
To me, that idea is far too stuffy, conservative and restrictive to artistic expression. I say use fuck where apt and necessary and to those who feel offence, tough fucking shit.
I have been accosted for using it in the past, and I’m sure I will again. Regardless, I’ll continue to use it.
In today’s episode of The Daily Larb Podcast, I’m taking a look at the word “fuck”, a brief look at its origin, and why words are restrictive to our understanding of each other and our environment.
I also explore why it is human beings have become so adhered to ideas and words of others such that we often follow those words blindly, seldom questioning their accuracy.
I’ve got a four-minute audio clip from the guru Bhagwan Rajneesh for you too – it’s about 15 mins into the episode, and it’s hilarious.
We often use words contrary to their original meaning.
For example in western cultures such as the US, the word bad is used to refer to something good. Awful is another. In the 1300s it meant something to be admired or respected.
With fuck, it seems that we stuck with its original meaning in broad terms, but it has developed into a kind of utility word having many uses.
Here’s an extract from Etymoline;
Written form attested from at least early 16c.; OED 2nd edition cites 1503, in the form fukkit, and the earliest attested appearance of current spelling is 1535 (“Bischops … may fuck thair fill and be vnmaryit” [Sir David Lyndesay, “Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaits”]). Presumably, it is a more ancient word, but one not written in the kind of texts that have survived from Old English and Middle English [September 2015: the verb appears to have been found recently in an English court manuscript from 1310]. Buck cites proper name John le Fucker from 1278, but that surname could have other explanations. The word apparently is hinted at in a scurrilous 15c. poem, titled “Flen flyys,” written in bastard Latin and Middle English.
Words Never Get Us There
Words are entirely inadequate for most of us, most of the time.
We can never honestly get to the hub of it all using words because what it is we are attempting to express can never be complete.
When I say the word jam, you conjure up a representation of jam in your mind that has come to represent that thing to which I refer.
It could be a jar of jam, a small pot you buy with a scone, a pot bubbling on the stove or an infinite number of things that may adequately represent jam for you.
But you never actually get there. You’ll never really see what I see in my mind.
The sweet fruity stuff that you spread on your toast it of course what I mean but you might not spread it on your toast, and if you’re from the US then you might not know what I’m at all talking about.
Of course, you call it jelly.
The point being, no matter how descriptive I am with my words, you’ll never see what I see.
And that’s a good thing because each of us holds a reality unique to us.
There is no such thing as objective reality, and if you believe there is then, we become caught in the world of concepts and ideas, the same ones that catch most everyone else.
But that’s ok.
Eventually en masse we will figure it out.
Eventually, but only after killing most of our species for the sake of words and other metaphorical concepts like flags, we will get it.