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Monday, 12 November 2012


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The 1990's could have learned a thing or two from Lenny Bruce.

Okay, this is tangentially related, and it's something I've regaled my wife with but haven't had the chance to regale anyone else with it -- so here goes.

When I lived in Ireland, they used the word "fuck" like a comma. Old ladies used it. My barber used it. My professors used it. Children used it. And they used it in more ways and in more contexts than I'd ever heard, and it made me look into its history. In short, the word doesn't just stand in for what we know of today, but stands for forcing or pushing or sending something on a certain trajectory -- at least that's how it was used in Ireland. Example: I worked at a restaurant for a while, and a common phrase was "fuck out the trash."

But they also had this lighter version, "feck," which is kind of like how in the U.S. people use "friggin," but you can get away with a priest on an Irish sitcom calling someone a "fecker." In the U.S., you probably couldn't pull that off in prime time. It pretty much is a direct stand-in for "fuck," but for some reason is more acceptable.

But "feck" has a real non-slang meaning, "value" or "amount," and it's related to "effect." It comes from Scots. We're more familiar with "feckless," which comes up in election years pretty regularly. To be "feckless" is to have no effect.

Is feckless related to fuck? Because if you follow the bouncing ball from "fuck" to "feck" to "feckless" and retain that Irish context of "force," "feckless" becomes "without force" -- which is as accurate a definition as any for feckless.

Now I can't hear commentators on NPR say "feckless" without giggling a little bit.


More fun with etymology: The word "critter" is a particularly North America dialect word for "creature." The next time you read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, replace the word "creature" with "critter," and the text becomes a little more entertaining. For a while.


I'd be interested to hear more about the specific scenes from GoT that you think reinvest pornography with its ability to shock. The only one that readily comes to mind is Joffrey with the whores. Season Two may be out of bounds for your class, but to me at least, that scene did to on-screen(ish) sex what Sarah Silverman did to The Aristocrats.


KWK: One scene might be the introduction of Tyrion. The shot begins on a close-up of him gulping down a mug of beer, but after he drains it, the gulping sound persists. Then the camera pulls back and we see it's Roz gulping on Tyrion.

It's short, to the point, and kind of a pun on aural/oral. To my mind it's that aural element that kind of puts it over into the realm of pornographic -- because it's unnecessarily biologically explicit for the sake of being explicit.

It also made my mother turn away, so that seemed to qualify it for something obscene.

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