In written communications, I generally refrain from cursing. I am not sure why so many web journalists feel compelled to express their emotions—even their apparent lack thereof—in terms referring to certain uses of the male sex organ or the issue of our daily excretions. I gather that both spell relief, as does the act of swearing. We all have to get it out of our system once in a while; and I am not one to recommend mealy-mouthing the unsavory by resorting to equivalents of a truculently tossed paper napkin; such disingenuous substitutions have been the curse of radio drama. Back in 1938, for instance, a production of O’Neill’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Beyond the Horizon met with a storm of protest when it was broadcast over NBC’s Blue network. As Francis Chase Jr. recalls in his Sound and Fury (1942), the FCC forced an affiliate in Minneapolis to justify such language under the threat of refusing to renew its license after a single listener complaint about exclamations of “Hell,” “Damnation,” and “For God’s Sake.”
To be sure, I am under no obligation to act in the public interest; and somehow I cannot bring myself to avail myself of defused verbal missiles like “darn,” “drat” or “shucks” (the last of which I, as a German, would have trouble pronouncing during moments of distress). That said, I don’t hold with those who believe that mentioning acts of penetration renders the thought expressed more penetrating. If I censor myself here, it is because I am trying to come to grips with whatever has me by the throat as my hands flit across the keyboard, erasing as much as they produce. I do not have to recreate verbatim what escaped my lips some time ago, as long as I manage to capture the feeling of that moment. Writing it down does not just mean getting it out; to me, it must also mean getting over it. It is a chance to let go of something rather than to let oneself go all over again and make a display of the discharge. Writing is the process of cleaning up, which is not to say that it is the concealment of disorder. Posture and composure become especially important when life seems to be in the very process of . . . decomposing.
What has been breaking down of late is the non-matter of my online existence. Another Mac has crashed—and that a mere three months after the previous wipeout (as lamented here). Never mind that I have learned little since the last incident and that many a souvenir has gone down the virtual sewer. What I noticed is that the crashes occurred while using iRecord, the software with which I copy audio files on the web. As a lover of radio programs, I use it quite a lot. Make that past tense.
To have one’s computer hard disk erased in the attempt to store what is fleeting is beyond “ironic” (another word I dislike). It is a rotten business, being shipwrecking for one’s love of the airwaves. The phrase “blistering barnacles” comes to mind. Indeed, most of Captain Haddock’s celebrated curses will do nicely just now.