|graphic by Mike Licht|
I could use your help. Now that the comments feature of this blog is working properly, I’m looking for opinions on a question of style. As a child of 1960, I’ve grown up in a George Carlin world. Much of the powerful, memorable, progressive communication of this era has been punctuated with words that, used strategically, grab you by the shoulder and say “Wake up and listen dumbf**k, this is important!”
Of course, some people have always gone far beyond “strategically”, and used almost nothing but Carlin’s 7 Dirty Words. Currently, in song and on TV, the f-word is the most common preposition and punctuation mark. It definitely has less power used that way. And some people have sensibilities such that they hear nothing in and around what they perceive as vulgar slang.
It seems an odd time though. There are places in my writing where it seems just as jolting NOT to use what would normally flow out of my mouth. I’ve been commonly using the word “crap” for the entire toxic, processed food nature of the current American diet. I could use “garbage”, but it’s weak. It has no emotion. “Sh*t” is so overused, it’s numbing and doesn’t grab anymore. And I want to grab a little. I’m not a dispassionate researcher. I’m a survivor of a significant threat to my life! I’m a preacher spewing a little fire and brimstone, warning my fellow humans that the eating of crap is the 8th deadly sin!
But, just because I think my considered, judicious use of shoulder-grabbers is justified, doesn’t mean I won’t repel more than a few precious ears. And a message with no audience is worthless. Hence this informal poll. I’m just a few days away from publishing “Refusing the Needle: A Diabetic’s Natural Journey to Kick-Ass Health” and if enough people felt strongly about words like “crap”, I’d have to re-weigh the pros and cons of my lexicon.
If you have an opinion, either way, let me know.