Sunday, October 16, 2016

Too much shit is monotonous

The theatre class at the correctional facility has a rule about swearing: the prisoners must "limit" themselves to the curses used in the play at hand, in this case Shakespeare's Tempest.
Bent Pencil takes the floor and reads out, gravely and impressively, in his best board-meeting voice: "Born to be hanged, A pox o'your throat. Bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog. Whoreson. Insolent noisemaker. Wide-chapp'd rascal. Malignant thing. Blue-eyed hag. Freckled whelp hag-born. Thou earth. Thou tortoise. Thou poisonous slave, got by the devil himself. As wicked dew as e'er my mother brushed, With raven's feather from unwholesome fen, Drop on you both. A south-west blow on ye, And blister you all o'er. Toads, beetles, bats light on you. Filth as thou art. Abhorr'ed slave. The red plague rid you. Hag-seed. All the infections that the sun sucks up, From bogs, fens, flats, fall on — add name here — and make him, By inch-meal a disease. Most scurvy monster. Most perfidious and drunken monster. Moon-calf. Pied ninny. Scurvy patch. A murrain on you. The devil take your fingers. The dropsy drown this fool. Demi-devil. Thing of darkness."

"Well done," says Felix. "That sounds fairly complete. I can't think of anything you've missed. Any questions or comments?"

"I been called worse," says PPod.


"I got one," says Shiv. "One question. Is 'shit' a curse word? Can we use it, or what?"

It's a fine point, think Felix. Technically, "shit" might not be considered a curse word as such, only a scatological expression, but he doesn't want to hear it all the time. Shit this, shitty that, you shit. He could let them vote on it, but what's the point of being in charge of this motley assemblage if he refuses to take charge? "'Shit' is offbounds," he says. "Adjust your cursing accordingly."

"'Shit' was okay last year," says Leggs. "So how come?"

"I changed my mind," says Felix. "I got tired of it. Too much shit is monotonous, and monotony is anti-Shakespeare."
—from Hag-Seed, by Margaret Atwood.

And I am cursing my family (most lovingly) for having descended on me this past week, leaving me no time to read.

1 comment:

Stefanie said...

I am really looking forward to reading this!