His owner told me that according to a Native American myth, dogs with different colored eyes can see both heaven and earth.
To celebrate the New York Review of Books’ reprint of William H. Gass’s On Being Blue, we’re excerpting a section from the book in which Gass discusses the usage of “fuck you” and other curses, grampalingus, hairy photos, Wallace Stevens, and the Sublime.
WHEN, with an expression so ill-bred as to be fatherless, I enjoin a small offensive fellow to ‘fuck a duck,’ I don’t mean he should. Nothing of the sort is in my mind. In a way I’ve used the words, yet I’ve quite ignored their content, and in that sense I’ve not employed them at all, they’ve only appeared. I haven’t even exercised the form. The command was not a command. ‘Go fly a kite’ only looks like ‘shut the door.’ At first glance it seems enough that the words themselves be shocking or offensive—that they dent the fender of convention at least a little—but there is always more to anything than that.
For example, when rice is thrown at a newly wedded pair, we understand the gesture to have a meaning and an object. Sand thrown at the best man misses its mark. Yet the rice, too, is being misused—neither milled, planted, nor boiled. Of course, rice signifies fertility for us. It resembles (indeed is) a seed. It is small and easily handled. It is light and lands lightly on its targets. It is plentiful and easily come by. And it is cheap. In short, rice is like three cheers, good luck, and God speed. Rice is like language. Similarly, when we swear we say we let off steam by throwing our words at someone or at something. ‘Fuck you,’ I mutter to the backside of the traffic cop, though I am innocent of any such intention.
Crude as it is, the case allows us to separate what is meant from what is said, and what is said from what is implied, and what is implied from what is revealed. Cursing dares convention and defies the gods, yet, as conventional itself as the forms it flouts, cursing does not dare defy the conditions of wholesome clarity, and ‘fuck a duck’ is admirable in that regard. Nor did I labor to invent the phrase. No one invents them. ‘Jesus Christ on a raft,’ an expostulation of my youth, did not catch on. I may choose to throw rice at newlyweds, but I do not—cannot—create the gesture. ‘May shit fall upon you from a biplane’ will hardly earn a medal for the imagination; nevertheless it is clearly something someone composed, and therefore not a curse at all, but a joke (as ‘fuck a duck’ is). At great cost, comedians have such curses composed for them. They often concern camels.
Although the expression says ‘hunt up a duck and fuck it,’ the command quite routinely means ‘go away; pursue some activity suitable to your talents, something disgusting and ineffectual like fucking a duck.’ Nonetheless, of all the fish and fowl, all the plants, animals, images, and other elements of the earth which provide some sort of aperture, it was the uck in ‘fuck’ that selected ‘duck.’ I might have said ‘fuck a fox’; however, the modulation of uck into ox is too sophisticated for swearing, and a fox has, in every way, the nobler entry. ‘Fuck a trucker’ is equally sound (though it tails off doggily), but the command calls for courage and so scarcely carries the same disdain. In these days when letters to the editor may contain instructions on how to masturbate with a vacuum cleaner, cucumber, or cantaloupe, the directive, ‘fuck a fruit,’ has become facetiously indeterminate. I happen to like ‘fuck a lock,’ nevertheless this phrase proves my point. One may admire its subtle comparison of ‘pick’ with ‘prick,’ or the happy resonance of ‘lot’ and ‘lock,’ ‘or that humorous reference to the chastity belt, but successful swearing can afford to be baroquely outrageous only if it also remains as straightforwardly open and sharp and quick as a slap.
Never gets old. “Pretty Fucking Feminine” satire by Smack the Pony.
Legendary psychologist Barry Schwartz, author of the enormously stimulating Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing, on our loss of wisdom.
From May 8th - June 7th 2014, Soma Contemporary Gallery Waterford will present Bunny Collective: The Young Girl’s Gaze.
This exhibition will explore how young women exist online, and how the internet can be harnessed as a mode of self-expression. Through a variety of mediums including installation, video and photography, the work on display will investigate the ways in which new internet platforms have impacted on female identity, and in turn what it means to present yourself on-line as a female.
Bunny Collective are an all-female art collective originally formed at the Crawford College of Art and Design in September 2013. Since their formation, they have expanded to include a number of UK-based artists and have attracted international interest, including interviews with Dazed and Confused, and Brooklyn-based zine, The Le Sigh.
Bunny Collective: The Young Girl’s Gaze will feature work from a number of emerging artists based in Cork and London. Their work will engage with themes such as identity construction online and alter egos; consumerism; the body as capital; fragmentation of self; teenage obsession; and how the internet can provide a positive alternative to male-dominated areas of artistic tradition. French collective Tiqqun’s seminal text, Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl will offer an important theoretical framework for how each of the artists will approach these issues.