Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Rasorial Revenge

Orchestral Stalls,
Honore Daumier,
oil on canvas, c. 1865.

Following the Lanaia Lee/Mary Kellis/ Cheryl Pillsbury plagiarism debacle and the threats of law suits, Wiccan curses, et al, the ladies at Dear Author began an informative series on slander, libel, and defamation.

This series apparently acerbated a dispute, fraught with emnity and discord, between them and another writer and her clique.

The latest attempt at internet mugging and exercise in malefic spite in this Highland-Corsican survival is described in an Oct 31 post at It's My Blog and I'll Say What I Want To!

Dear me.

An Aside:
Since my fiction is female-focused, I am unfamiliar with other aggregates, but I have to wonder if such persistent vendettas and feuds are common in SF and Mystery communities and circles, or if they are peculiar to the Romance genre.

More Backstory:
Somewhere in the comment trails of these sites, someone observed that there seemed to be a singular lack of imagination manifested in the insult-clods hurled about -- a particularly sad, even reprehensible, situation -- since the parties involved were associated with writing.

I believe the commenter may have provided a round and robust examples from Shakespeare to illustrate the desirability of effective vocabulary.

I think the person had a point.
However, I don't think we need to disturb the great Willie.

In my opinion, willies figured all too prominently from one side of the exchange.
Where I Get to It, Finally:
I have in hand Peter Bowler's The Superior Person's Book of Words - a deliciously wicked little guide to the Insult Concealed, the Compliment Questionable and the Suggestion Surreptitious -- where he contends the application of obscure and superior words may leave one's opponent reduced to discomfort, impotent wrath, crude cliches, and general bad language.

An Example:


Imagine, he says, if your little soiree is being overwhelmed by the continuous neighing and trumpeting of the society matron brought along by your cousin Timothy, the interior decorator, you should quietly sidle up to her and, with conspiratorial confidentiality, whisper in her ear: "I thought I should tell you - your uvula's showing."

At best, she can be expected to leave at once with Timothy; at next best, without him; and at worst, to spend at least twenty minutes locked in the bathroom examining her person in minute detail.


Words are our weapons.

We shouldn't neglect them.


writtenwyrdd said...

One of my favorite things is to observe how well the British and Canadian Parliaments say things so politely. They are forced by the rules of speech to insult each other most politely. The result, quite frequently, is wonderful wit.

Bernita said...

Necessity mothers inventive invective, I suppose, Written.

moonrat said...

inventive invective. very nice.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Moonmouse.

Jaye Wells said...

Love it. Oscar Wilde is another good source for quips. "She is a peacock in everything but beauty."

Bernita said...

Indeed, Jaye.
Though I consider Wilde to be intentionally hircine, he produced some great insults.

Billy said...

Well, I'll have to throw Willie back in for just a brief moment. Hamlet has some of the greatest zingers (not to mention the dirtiest puns) in the language. If parents could unravel the wordplay on female anatomy and insults against Ophelia, I think parents would try to ban the book in high school!

Interesting question about romance writers. If so, would that mean life imitates art, what with all of the jealousy contained in the pages of some romance novels, and people competing for favors and affection? Not sure if that's true, but it sounds plausible. I started my business by writing a romance novel, but haven't mined those waters for a long time.

Bernita said...

Ha, Billy! With reality TV and what one can hear on any street corner or school yard, parents might think Hamlet is obscene?
Erotica has gone mainstream.
As far as life imitating art - it does sound plausible - but I think the conditions were pre-existing.

Billy said...

Believe it or not, when I taught Hamlet to seniors many years ago, my school told me to skip over some lines. Today, who knows? As for reality TV--ugh!-point well taken.

Bernita said...

Or the internet, alone, Billy, for choice expressions.

SzélsőFa said...

uvula, hm...
must be quite distracting to our opponent, heehee

Dave F. said...

Taming of the Shrew has some crafty double entendre in the arguments. I went to a Catholic High School and they really chopped up The Merchant of Venice. They took out the line where Portia says she will not be bedmates with a man who lost her ring. I always wondered about the rationale for that deletion. Wasn't that the intent of the play?

I like uvulas, even male uvulas...

Bernita said...

And may they suffer from uvulaitis, Szelsofa.

Bernita said...

Tonsil swabber!

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm sort of torn. I admire wit, especially dry wit, but at the same time I feel like sometimes you should just say things bluntly. I guess I'm just conflicted. Maybe next time I feel the need to verbally task someone I'll say something like, "Your uvula is showing you Son of a ****"

spyscribbler said...

Frankly, I don't mean to be stereotypical, but it seems women are more prone to this sort of thing. For better or for worse, and maybe it's a good thing, who knows. It tires me.

But if I picked up that book, I suspect I could have some fun with the bickering!

Bernita said...

Definitely, Charles.
Or offer to drive your fist that far.
I don't advocate word-grubbing as a consistent approach, but it can be fun.

The actions of the attacking party (ies) would certainly support the standard claim about "bitches," Natasha!
Yes, the book is so neat and tongue-in-cheek.

raine said...

I keyed into that when it was first posted on Karen's blog. Couldn't stay with it. Much too ugly. And I'd hate to think it was peculiar to romance blogs, but must confess I've never heard of this kind of flame war from other genre's circles.

However, I LOVE your very civilized idea, Bernita, lol! Quite right--wield the words well.

Now, if I can just get this image out of my mind of that society matron in the bathroom, thoroughly checking her genitals and every stitch of her undies... ;-)

Bernita said...

Quite sick, wasn't it, Raine?
Made one wonder about histrionic personality disorders and such.
Thank you. I love my dictionary.It's so democratic.

December/Stacia said...

Honestly? I believe it's worse in romance than any other genre, I really do. Shameful, but true.

And I must own that book.

The Anti-Wife said...

Uvula. Can't wait to drop that line in some random conversation.

Overuse of tired insults and swearwords has always indicated a lack of imagination and creativity to me. There are so many more interesting ways to express yourself.

archer said...

Our Jihadist opponents generally out-insult us. I once engaged a Jihadist sympathizer in a chat room. We traded a few warmup insults, and then the lights went out. When I regained consciousness, and learned what my opponent had said, I realized I was out of my league. An American mind simply could not have conceived the magnificent curse that destroyed me that night. I post it verbatim:

Archer, Satan awaits your mother's arrival in Hell, so that his dog can mate.

There was no point in even attempting to compete with such sublime artistry. I congratulated the victor and logged off.

Gabriele C. said...

Bernita, the fun is everywhere. Boingboing and Making Light just have to deal with a troll and sockpuppet invasion of slavering dimensions.

Robyn said...

Oh, I'm sorry I had to work this morning and missed the discussion!

My favorite from that book: episthenar. The skin on the back of your hand, if I remember correctly. It was recommended that one wait until morning, when one's mother was just barely awake to call out from the bathroom, "Mom! I've got a nasty red sore on my episthenar!"

Chumplet said...

I once told a boy in my high school cafeteria that he was masticating in public. You should have seen him blush!

Bernita said...

You will enjoy it, December.

One chortles over the possibilities, AW.

Archer, I think it's a question, not of talent, but of practice.

I'll have to check that out, Gabriele.

Robyn! A perfect example!

Bernita said...

Excellent, Sandra!
Mensuration is another such.

Scott from Oregon said...

I used to have an online reputation a few years back for being the guy who got uncivil to the uncivil ones. I found the whole enterprise of insulting the boorish rather boorish and left the arena for my quiet little spot in cyberspace.

For a year after, I used to get emails from people asking me to come back and insult people some more...

Apparently, I had quite a following of people tuning in just to watch the words fly around.

Bernita said...

Scott, there are times when muscle is the only thing that gets through to some people.

Shesawriter said...


My ghost hunter book arrived today from Amazon! SQUEE! Thanks again for the recommend. :-)

Bernita said...

Lovely, Tanya!
I hope you'll find it very useful.
I have!