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How Much Swearing and sex in Snow Crash?

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message 1: by Blake (new)

Blake I would like to read this book, but I'm wondering how much swearing and sex it has in it? (I don't want to read it if it has too much.)

I'm a big scifi fan, but I haven't read any cyberpunk. I tried reading Neuromancer, but it had too much dirt for me. I also tried reading Forever War (scifi, not cyberpunk), but I put it down for the same reason.

I'm not trying to criticize people that like these books despite swearing and sex -- I just have my own preferences and tolerances.

Thanks for the help.


Amanda I read this for a college Sci Fi class and I liked it for the most part. There is a fair amount of swearing and at least one sex scene that I remember. A friend of mine read it (I forgot the swearing may be a problem for her) and she did say the swearing was too much for her. Being a fan of Sci Fi you may enjoy it though. I'm a Sci Fi fan as well, which explains why I took the course = )


message 3: by Blake (new)

Blake Thanks for the reply! I'll probably pass on Snow Crash, which stinks. I wanted to read Forever War and Neuromancer as well, but they had a bit too much for me and I didn't make it past a few pages. I don't know why some good authors have to put filth in their books. Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine were as evil as anybody and they didn't need any swearing to "develop their character"... Oh well.


Amanda I read Neuromancer for the same class, and sadly for some reason I'm blanking on how much swearing was in it. But for Snow Crash it stood out.


Eric Mesa Man, I really wouldn't skip out on this book over that. It's a pretty awesome book. I don't think Neal Stephenson has much profanity in his books at all. (At least not the "big" ones like F word, etc) I think there's one part where someone appears to be spewing some but then there turns out to be a reason for it - can't get into it without spoilers.

As far as sex, the one sex scene it has is like one paragraph and is played for laughs. Again, can't get into it without spoilers, but it's not dirty. At least, I've read a lot of sci-fi and I've read a lot that's more explicit than that.

Why not just check it out from the library? You can read a few chapters and see if it's too smutty to consider buying. You aren't going to wreck yourself by checking it out and you don't lose any money.


Amanda For some people the profanity stands out more when they don't like to read novels with profanity in it. If they are sensitive to it at all they may find it offensive. The F word is in Snow Crash which was why a friend of mine was a bit against the book.


Osvaldo Ortega There is not an amount of language or sexuality that would prevent me from reading anything. Good is good. As for The Forgotten War, it is to be expected when you are reading about the military. But to each his own.


message 8: by Eric (last edited Apr 15, 2011 05:30AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eric Mesa Amanda wrote: "For some people the profanity stands out more when they don't like to read novels with profanity in it. If they are sensitive to it at all they may find it offensive. The F word is in Snow Crash ..."

I don't want to belabor the point too much - you're entitled to read or not read w/e you want. But there's a huge difference between Pulp Fiction where every other word is the F-word or N-word to the point where it almost seems that Tarantino's point is parody and a book or film that merely has people speaking as non-religious people do. Fact: some people use profanity as an exclamation mark. Fact: some people use it to relieve stress when something goes wrong. (Which Science has proven is beneficial) I think it's kinda silly to skip out on a great work of art in the case of the latter situation - ie just a casual sprinkling of profanity.

I was going to say, it's not as though reading the words is going to infect your mind. But, given the plot of Snow Crash, that'd be a hilarious thing for me to claim. Can't get into it more than that without spoiling the entire plot of the book.

--
edited for clarity


William Dalphin If you go to Amazon, you can "Look inside the book" and then search for all manner of profanity to determine how much it contains. For example, Snow Crash has 31 instances of the F-word, 44 instances of the S-word.

The sex scene is not just a paragraph, but several paragraphs. Whether it is "played for laughs" is debatable, but it involves a grown man and a 16 year old girl. There is also a scene involving two men and a boat-load of pirates planning to rape them, though that does not end up happening.

More importantly, the book is violent, but you didn't ask about that, so I guess it's not as important as the naughty words and descriptive (yes, the sex is descriptive) sex scene.


message 10: by Eric (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eric Mesa Wil wrote: "If you go to Amazon, you can "Look inside the book" and then search for all manner of profanity to determine how much it contains. For example, Snow Crash has 31 instances of the F-word, 44 instanc..."

Ah, apologies on misremembering the sex scene. All I remembered was the punchline. Again, don't want to spoil.

That look inside the book for profanity is pretty awesome! I'll have to remember that for the future. So I guess if you look at it - there are how many words in all of snow crash and only 31 are the F-word. I'd say that's pretty pretty good. IOW - it's not a torrent of profanity, just as the occasion warrants.

I think the best thing to come out of this whole discussion was the word search that Wil mentions! Now you know - you can look up whatever words upset you. Maybe you're ok with mild words like damn but want to stay away from stronger words like F-word, C-word, etc And let's say the book has only ONE F-word (or whatever word bothers you) you can maybe tolerate it? I mean, ignoring a whole book for ONE bad word seems ridiculous. On the other hand, if it is a 100 page book and has 300 citations of the word, perhaps it's not for you.

So, to sum up: Thanks, Wil, for pointing that out!


message 11: by Eric (last edited Apr 15, 2011 10:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eric Mesa Let me just add that if the aversion to profanity stems from religious beliefs (and it might not. Perhaps you just don't like bad words - and that's cool)you might not want to read the book anyway. Why?

There's, depending on how you look at it, blasphemous stuff. There's mention of ancient religions and some of the graphic stuff you did back then. To add a non-spoiler example, if you know the true story of Hercules - and how Zeus acted - now imagine a religion even older than that and the kinds of stories they'd have.

So it depends on how open to that stuff you are. At the time that I read Snow Crash I was an avid church-goer and I didn't have issues with it. At the same time, I know some people who won't see a rated R movie even though they're in their 40s...so....it's going to be highly individualistic. That's why I recommended early on to just borrow the book from the library and just stop reading at the point at which it starts to bother you.


Amanda Eric wrote: "Amanda wrote: "For some people the profanity stands out more when they don't like to read novels with profanity in it. If they are sensitive to it at all they may find it offensive. The F word is..."

I understand your point that you shouldn't skip on a book just because it has language you'd rather not read. But its their choice to not read or not read the book whatever the reason may be. I read it. I enjoyed it. That was why I recommended it. But seeing as this person asked my opinion as to whether I thought there were too many swear words or not I thought I would let them know that while it didn't bother me I have a friend that it did bother after she read it on my recommendation. As I said before everyone has their own tolerance level for things (swear words in this case) and this book, good read being besides the point, may be too much for someone who is questioning whether there are swear words in it to begin with.


message 13: by Timothy K. (last edited Apr 15, 2011 06:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Timothy K. If I were to be offended by the content of this novel(which of course I am not), it would be the exasperating amount of violence it contains(Non- spoilerific example "They'll listen to REASON.")

Not the occasional bit of naughty language you happen to meet with from time to time amongst its 420 odd pages.


Brian I just read Snow Crash for a Science Fiction course. Profanity did not stick out so much to me, but I also am not that sensitive to it. The book was my favorite of the series that we read for class, and I found myself laugh out loud several times. There are probably more cases of violence than sex/profanity.


Amanda You know what I don't get is why people feel the need to be disrespectful about other people's choices on whether they want to read something with sex or foul language. It's their own choice. Leave them alone about it already. In a world that is saturated with both sex and foul language its amazing that you can find anything that doesn't have either. While I don't avoid it myself I don't feel the need to be disrespectful of others who chose to limit their exposure to it. Now can we drop this topic already??


message 16: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark I'm not averse to sex & swearing, at all, and I noted it in the book. I think basically it came across very graphically, not in a bad way, but in a "smack you right in the guts" way. The violence too.

Oveall, I found this good: a fantastic book. Recommend you give it a try, see what you think.


message 17: by Jeroen (last edited May 05, 2011 03:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jeroen Stapper ''You know what I don't get is why people feel the need to be disrespectful about other people's choices on whether they want to read something with sex or foul language. It's their own choice. Leave them alone about it already''

Nobody is being disrespectful. What on earth are you talking about, Amanda?

This is a great book. Some of the greatest books ever written have sex and profanity in them. If you need to ask other people to assess the situation for you out of fear for discovering something that may offend you I have only this to say: Hang on tight. You may have a bumpy road ahead of you.


message 18: by CV (new) - rated it 5 stars

CV Rick Leto2 said, "I don't know why some good authors have to put filth in their books. Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine were as evil as anybody and they didn't need any swearing to "develop their character"."

The answer as I see it is that real life has sex, swearing, and "filth." Authors attempt to discuss life and culture. Authors, even science fiction authors, are trying to make statements about how people behave and who they are.

While I don't think anyone should be forced to read anything they oppose because of their religious upbringing or sensibilities, I think it's important for writers to be true to their stories and their characters and portray them in as realistic a manner as possible - which includes good and bad.

Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine were caricatures, and one-dimension caricatures at that. They had no depth and minimal development. They were props in a fable and while the Star Wars saga was groundbreaking in film technology and sci-fi, it wasn't by any stretch a work of literary might.

Personal revelation here - - I grew up in a very strict religious household. We weren't allowed television, except as approved and monitored. We weren't allowed questionable movies - Star Wars included (I had to sneak out for that one). I was punished for reading unapproved books (A Wrinkle in Time was one of them) which had been recommended by well-meaning public school teachers. As a result, I was unprepared and naive about the world when I jumped into it.

I now devour books and relish in the experiences and characters filled with flaws and weakness, who add to my understanding of how real people struggle, succeed and fail in the real world.

Don't read books that might offend you. But asking for such subjective recommendation here is probably pointless since every person has a different level of tolerance and can't possible know the Fword-count threshold or sex-scene word quota that triggers another person's disgust.


Amanda "Don't read books that might offend you. But asking for such subjective recommendation here is probably pointless since every person has a different level of tolerance and can't possible know the Fword-count threshold or sex-scene word quota that triggers another person's disgust. " -Cv

I think Cv, you sum up the point I've making countless times now since this post started, whenever that was. Honestly it seems that this has really went on far too long.

Jeroen, As for the being disrespectful I'm referring to the times where people have made it sound "absurd" and "naive" that someone would want to avoid sex and foul language in what they read. As I've said its their choice and their decision. There is no point in ridiculing them for that choice or decision as it is theirs to make. It just seems that some people made a point to comment on the post simply to say how it was ridiculous of someone to avoid the sex and foul language. That I found disrespectful. Am I wrong? Am I interpreting this wrong?


message 20: by Jeroen (last edited May 06, 2011 02:48AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jeroen Stapper The question is absurd to a degree since we can't give an objective account of 'how much' profanity etc is in the book, as has been stated before. Trying to compare the amount of profanity between different books is positively absurd. It's like trying to determine how red a red apple might appear to someone. This goes for all questions related to 'should I read this book?' yet people feel compelled to ask them over and over.

Personally I also think saying 'Don't read books that might offend you' is completely backwards. Read anything. If it offends you, ask yourself WHY it does.

You can go through life with tunnel vision, blocking out everything you dislike, but can you still truly enjoy a novel which is written to expand your imagination to new horizons?

Having said all this, I have 2 answers for the OP. Choose wisely:

1. Don't read the book. Why risk it?
2. Do read the book. What have you got to lose?


Amanda BunWat wrote: "But dude, you're just trying to substitute one authority for another. Instead of telling someone they are wrong for wanting to read a book that contains profanity you are telling them they are wron..."

Oh thank you BunWat. We really are beating a dead horse here. I think its suffice to say that some people would rather make a life out of pointing out what they think other people are doing wrong rather than try to add anything of value to the topic in the first place.


message 22: by Jeff (last edited Jul 01, 2011 12:25PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jeff This is a joke question, right? Please, please tell me this is a joke.

It's 2011.


Sahil Udani ^^ The question was asked in 2010 :)

But yep, a lot of profanity and S** (workplace word detectors :P) puts me off too. I dont mind an occasional Quentin Tarantino movie, however if a person cannot express himself/herself without profanity, just makes me sad at state of affairs.

Snowcrash, on the other hand is a very intelligent book, infact might be one of the most quasi-accurate SF book in some time. The profanity is limited, and so are the s** instances. I am sure if you have watched one of the cable shows, this would seem as a fairytale.

OT: I have just done with Game of Thrones, and Snow Crash seems like a fairy-tale in that aspect. :)


message 24: by S. (new) - rated it 5 stars

S. Baker I have to say this topic bothers and confuses me. I come from a culture where the use of profanity is commonplace and often highly effective in conveying rich meaning. If I write dialogue, it's important that my characters are true to themselves and, as I find it hard to develop characters from an unfamiliar culture, many of them will use profanity in their normal way.

I have no wish to judge the rights and wrongs of different cultures - in fact, I consider the concept of right and wrong when it comes to evaluating cultural behaviour as the start of a slippery slope towards prejudice and hatred. I don't necessarily understand why people make the judgements they make and I don't always agree with their choices, but I have no desire to offend (although I am often amazed at what does).

My own books contain profanity and always will. In reading this thread it appears that even the common word for excrement is considered by some to be profane so I can say that 0.0005% of my first book is profane (that’s 42 words). Whether this amounts to offence, I can’t say, but it’s clear that it might for some people.

I have a suggestion. Why don’t those people who are offended by the use of profanity and/or descriptions of sexual activity agree a code which can be published and evaluated by authors? Then we can clearly state whether our work is likely to offend those people and attach a ‘rating’ to our books?

I try to make no judgement about these sensibilities and wish to respect those who want to avoid profanity but I will, however, never agree that sex is ‘dirty’.

(BTW Snow Crash, in my opinion, has some stimulating ideas, is expertly written and is well worth reading.)


message 25: by Dann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dann While I seek not to judge the aversion to literature containing "swear words," I will say that Snow Crash does not use them gratuitously, as they are a strong identification of the culture of the characters.

Some books, especially in the sci-fi genre as of late, have taken to using "swear words" as a means of attention grabbing and not within a context of character development. This is not one of those books.


message 26: by S. (new) - rated it 5 stars

S. Baker BunWat is correct, the original poster was not trying to impose anything on anyone, but was highlighting an issue that is clearly important to more than a few readers and therefore, as an author, important to me.

I have no intention of writing differently. However, I do not wish to offend people without cause. By what mechanism can I warn Leto2 not to read my work?


message 27: by Destructo (last edited Jul 27, 2011 01:49PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Destructo The Mad Just going back to the issue raised by the OP: Why limit your reading to such a degree? If you won't read anything with swearing and/or sex, then you are pretty much stuck reading Children's Lit and the tamer end of YA for the rest of your life. Sex and profanity are in lots and lots of books because, in reality, people swear all the time, and have sex all the time (how do you think the global population is pushing 7 billion?) It's pretty hard to write a realistic story, or create realistic adult characters if you can't use bad language, or keep all relationships platonic.

The Canterbury Tales has swearing and sex throughout it. There are dirty jokes in Shakespeare and The Iliad. Hell, the Song of Solomon in the Bible is pretty damn racy.

While everyone is free to their opinions and preferences, I just think of the enormous body of literature, and all of the fantastic books that the OP is missing. I can't understand why someone self-censor themselves to such a degree?


Sahil Udani S. wrote: "BunWat is correct, the original poster was not trying to impose anything on anyone, but was highlighting an issue that is clearly important to more than a few readers and therefore, as an author, i..."
Since you are on the topic, you can have two version of the book. One a "censored" version and one which is not. Of-course the discretion should be upto the author, if he/she is comfortable that the censored version would not dilute the book in any meaningful way.
And yes, this would work for the e-book format only, as publishing cost would not be economically viable in the paperback format.


message 29: by S. (new) - rated it 5 stars

S. Baker ...or howabout a user setting in the eBook reader that replaced profane words with mild equivalents? I'm not sure what it could do about sexual descriptions but word substitution should be easy enough.

I'm not going to censor my work to suit sensibilities I can't understand and my characters must be true to themselves but really, this is not my problem, it's a problem for people who are offended so the onus is on them to find a solution. Asking other readers is one solution, but it means they have to ask about every book before they read it - and be vulnerable to the wide range of personal tastes of the responders. If I was offended in this way, I'd want a simpler solution that that.


message 30: by Darwin8u (last edited Jul 28, 2011 10:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Darwin8u Leto2 wrote: "I would like to read this book, but I'm wondering how much swearing and sex it has in it? (I don't want to read it if it has too much.)

Lots and lots of swearing; especially during sex. There is this long, drawn out cyberpunk phone sex chapter with a monkey where the phones themselves transmit binary STDs. There is cursing about sex, around sex, under sex, over sex. Sex almost ends up modifying itself in this book (which I think is a structural allusion to masturbation).

Then, there are all the robot sex scenes only told through weird German conjugations of the word FICK.

Obviously, there are long metaphyiscal explorations of both sex and recreational reproduction. There is a whole chapter on copraphillic poetry written on bathroom walls (careful, these chapters are scratch and sniff in the Vintage edition). I would avoid the chapter on the Phallic Motorcycle Crusaiders in the Pop-up edition. Finally, I would also STRONGLY avoid the Yupik translations, because obviously they have 30 different words for Snow Crash AND 7 x 70 dirty words for coitus.


Robert it has just enough to get the job done


Edward Rob wrote: "Leto2 wrote: "I would like to read this book, but I'm wondering how much swearing and sex it has in it? (I don't want to read it if it has too much.)

Lots and lots of swearing; especially during..."


So mature. Feeling pretty smug about yourself, aren't you? *sarcasm*


Jürgen A. Erhard Thernymous: It was pretty well done by Rob. Yes, he can feel as smug as he wants to in my book. (Note to self: name one of the characters in one of your (future) books "Rob". Just "Rob")


Jeroen Stapper Rob wrote: "Leto2 wrote: "I would like to read this book, but I'm wondering how much swearing and sex it has in it? (I don't want to read it if it has too much.)

Lots and lots of swearing; especially during..."



LOL. I applaud you, sir.


Darwin8u Thernymous wrote: "So mature. Feeling pretty smug about yourself, aren't you? *sarcasm* "

Thank you for clarifying that your smug comment was sarcastic. I've been told I've got a form of Internet-Aspergers, so I'm not sure if I can always judge sarcasm accurately in online forums.

As far as feeling smug about myself, I try not to feel too smug about myself. That would feel too much like intellectual onanism, and I don't like wasting that type of seed in my own mental garden.


message 36: by Blake (new)

Blake I appreciate the feedback and comments. Interesting discussion.

To address a few things:

Cv wrote: "...Don't read books that might offend you. But asking for such subjective recommendation here is probably pointless since every person has a different level of tolerance and can't possible know the Fword-count threshold or sex-scene word quota that triggers another person's disgust."

Asking for a recommendation wasn't pointless -- I got the information I was hoping for and I was able to make an informed decision. Thanks for those that answered!

Cv wrote: "1. Don't read the book. Why risk it?
2. Do read the book. What have you got to lose?


1. I would "risk it" because I would probably like the story, but asking the original question allowed me to make a decision without the "risk."

2. What have I got to lose? I don't like swearing. I think there are plenty of other words that can describe the same feelings in a much more educated and much less offensive way. Thus, I don't want to read swearing because it gets in my mind and swear words are more likely to surface in my thoughts or even in my own words. I'm not one to tell people not to swear around me at work or anything, but certainly I have full control over what I choose to read, thereby limiting what goes in my mind.

Similarly, I think that reading about sex and looking at pornography can have a negative affect on one's thoughts and actions -- once the image/imagery enters the mind it is difficult to forget it and it leads to thoughts (and potentially actions) that I would rather not have. Obviously, as Destructo pointed out, sex is a common thing and cannot itself be bad, but my belief is that it needs to be contained within certain parameters (marriage, for example) in order to be appropriate. I would venture to say that the amount of explicit sex scenes in novels has had the effect of morphing how society views acceptable parameters and has likely contributed to infidelity.

Destructo wrote: While everyone is free to their opinions and preferences, I just think of the enormous body of literature, and all of the fantastic books that the OP is missing. I can't understand why someone self-censor themselves to such a degree?

The benefit of what I'm missing does not outweigh the negative effects (to me) of the contents of what I'm missing. There are plenty of fantastic books that meet my personal standards -- more than I could ever hope to read.

S. wrote: I have no intention of writing differently. However, I do not wish to offend people without cause. By what mechanism can I warn Leto2 not to read my work?... I'm not going to censor my work to suit sensibilities I can't understand and my characters must be true to themselves but really, this is not my problem, it's a problem for people who are offended so the onus is on them to find a solution.

I think you're right that the onus is on people like me to find a solution. I wish there were something similar to www.kids-in-mind.com for books. Until then, I will just:
1. avoid books that are obviously not for me
2. ask about books that I'm unsure of when possible
3. or put a book down if I don't like it

Again, I appreciate the feedback. I don't wish to impose my views on anyone, but I also don't wish to read or promote books that do not meet my own moral standards.


message 37: by Darwin8u (last edited Dec 12, 2011 07:59AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Darwin8u Quick question Leto2. Given your standards would you avoid a book that contains: incest, onanism, homosexuality, bigamy, pimping, prostitution, rape, infidelity, idolatry, voyeurism, murder, genocide, etc.?

I just think the idea of morally rating literature is kinda ridiculous and certainly dubious. How do you rate Crime and Punishment or any of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's books? I'm certainly against the killing innocents, but here is a novel that deeply explores madness, murder and redemption (to some extent). How would you rate Gravity's Rainbow? And to reference my first paragraph, how exactly would you rate the Old Testament?

You need to be wary of those you ask to rate things for you. I'm not sure I want to delegate my filter to the literary equivalent of the MPAA.

I also think you should be careful to not conflate pornography with books that have sex in them or even books with language that offends you. You need to be more precise in your thinking and in your judgement and recognize that books you might not like, or personally find offensive, might have more social, literary, and (gasp!) spiritual merit than you are giving them by your 'standards'.

Get the input of your friends; read what interests you (fantasy). If it offends your delicate moral charter, just put it down and walk away and don't look back. The world certainly doesn't need another pillar of salt, slouching from Sodom.


Steve I can't remember how much profanity there was in Snow Crash but I can tell you that that book is highly over-rated. The last third is a real slog.


message 39: by Theo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Theo Albert Leto2 wrote: "I would like to read this book, but I'm wondering how much swearing and sex it has in it? (I don't want to read it if it has too much.)

I'm a big scifi fan, but I haven't read any cyberpunk. I t..."


I read this a long time ago, but remember there was some sex in it but not much. To avoid that, try some young adult books written by typically adult authors. Unlundun by China Mieville would be my first recommendation. The author has lots of great ideas in all his books, but they're typically full of smut. This book has all the ideas but no sex or swearing.


message 40: by Sal (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sal There's enough swearing and sex to keep your interest. Seriously, if you have a problem with certain words or ideas "Snow Crash" is a book you probably should read. The underlying theme relating to language and semantics is fascinating and insightful, in my opinion.


Jackmccullough I guess there's enough in it that I wondered if my son would be uncomfortable when he first read it when he was in sixth grade.

Not enough to stop him from reading it, of course.

I'm pretty sure he's survived the experience pretty well.


message 42: by Eric_W (last edited Dec 31, 2011 08:05AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eric_W NOTE: This post contains profanity. Beware. (That probably guarantees that everyone will look.)

I'm astonished at all the people using S-word, F-word, C-word, etc., and all the other euphemisms as if somehow by not spelling it out you won't think it when we all know just the opposite is true. Words in-and-of themselves convey little meaning and depend on the perspective and context supplied by the author and reader. The word "bitch" for example or "ass" used in a dog rearing book or book about donkeys would hardly be considered profane. And if the author substituted Fick or F*ck for Fuck would you be any less affected? The reader decides whether to be offended or not. The words themselves are not harmful, and you will be the one to decide what affect it might or might not have on you. An excellent book that touches on this is Stephen King's On Writing who discusses the importance of authors being honest to their characters. "Golly gee" in the mouth of a vicious killer would hardly seem honest. Many of the classics contain words and metaphors that, would they be translated into a modern idiom, be just as offensive but because we lack the same cultural context as contemporaries, are lost on us. As Sal noted, language is an important theme in Snow Crash and one of the things that makes it such an interesting book.

I loved Rob's comment regarding intellectual onanism and it reminded me of a line from Christopher Moore's Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal ""The sin of Onan. Spilling the old seed on the ground. Cuffing the camel. Dusting the donkey. Flogging the Pharisee. Onanism, a sin that requires hundreds of hours of practice to get right, or at least that's what I told myself."


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

I think it's fairly ironic that OP is concerned that certain words and images will get into her head, and she's asking about Snow Crash! This novel is all about how language is a virus and how ideas are transmitted with or without the receiving vessel's permission.

While I totally and unequivocally disagree with OP, I respect that she's articulated her position and stands by it. However....

That being said (oh how I despise that rhetorical convention), OP is missing out on so many great works of literature: D H Lawrence, James Joyce, Emile Zola, Coetzee, Delillo, the list goes on and on and on. Ulysses is one of the greatest novels EVER, if not the greatest, and it contains profanity, sex, masturbation, etc.

However, OP, one point to make. You erroneously believe that the shifting mores of morality has a correlation with the explicit scenes of sex within novels. You then conclude that infidelity is no doubt a byproduct of this loosening of morals. First of all, correlation does not mean causation. Secondly, explicit sex has been in literature for thousands of years. It was only in English literature in the Victorian era that things were tightened up for ladies' sake. And speaking of the Victorians, their output of pornography was STAGGERING.

Not to turn this into a debate on the sanctity of marriage or even the fact that marriage is a social construction designed to commodify virginity, but infidelity has been around since the creation of marriage. There are no stats to prove that it is on the rise. This is a common moral panic that people have of our increasingly secular society.

Swearing is in the eye of the beholder. Common swear words in other languages are nothing in ours. This is especially true of religious blasphemy in French where as English swear words are more interested in excrement and fornicating. Speaking of the word "fuck," there used to be a bird in English called a windfucker. Just so you know.


message 44: by Oco (last edited Jan 01, 2012 07:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oco Am enjoying this thread... the sharp humor, yes, but also the recent discussion.

The word 'shit' has ancient origins, and at least one reference I've read indicates that it was, at one time (12th/13th century?), the polite way to refer to that particular bodily function.

'Shit', 'schism', 'scissors', 'schist', 'schizophrenia', and 'science' (!) all derive from the same root, that refers to a separation.

I find it fascinating how some rather innocuous words can take on such incredible significance outside their actual meaning. Makes the whole concept of profanity rather ridiculous, to me. Almost makes me wish I'd studied linguistics.

Almost.


message 45: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 02, 2012 06:26AM) (new)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BcdY_...

Here is part one of two parts of noted neuroscientist and linguist Steven Pinker's discussion on the art of swearing. Extremely funny and extremely fascinating. For those that find profanity to be mostly innocuous and hilarious.


Eric_W Matthew wrote: "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BcdY_...

Here is part one of two parts of noted neuroscientist and linguist Steven Pinker's discussion on the art of swearing. Extremely funny and extremely fasci..."


This is awesome. I just loved the FCC's reasoning in not fining the network for "This is fucking brilliant." For those who haven't seen it, the F.C.C. noted that "indecency is material that describes or depicts sexual or excretory functions." The "fucking" in "fucking brilliant" is an adjective or expletive to emphasize and exclamation." Now that really *is* fucking brilliant.


message 47: by Oco (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oco Naw, what was truly brilliant was Pinker's pointing out that since it was actually used as an adverb (not an adjective), it would have found the loophole in the conservative's proposal. *lol*

Great link, thanks. :)


message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

Pinker is a brilliant scientist. For those interested, he also provides a fairly interesting lecture on euphemistic language

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-son3...

Part of the RSA Animate series, which has a whole heap of intriguing and addictive lectures.

However, more on the subject, I wonder how OP would feel with implied sex and less overt swearing. I'm thinking of books such as Lolita or something like a Gothic novel.


message 49: by Phil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil Mathies The other thing you should watch is George Carlin's "The seven word you can never say on television." It is important to realize, at least it seems like one of the most important realizations I ever had, that words don't have to offend you. This is a choice you make. Decide not to be offended until someone MEANS to offend you. If they offend you by accident...then you can argue that they should be more sensitive, but then they could argue you should relax. Both perspectives have pros and cons. Carlin makes the point that there are 400, 000 words and yet 7 you can't say on television. How arbitrary!

Trust me, saying, "I hate black people" is way worse, than reading aloud Huckleberry Finn which has many references to the N-word. But most people could breeze right past "I hate black people" but would get angry when someone uses the N-word, even though it's in a piece of important and historically accurate literature.

And finally, I really agree with the poster that said that there is a lot that is missed when a few words will make you not read/watch/enjoy a piece of art. I mean, there's nudity in the Sistine Chapel. Should we not let kids into it because it's dangerous? I think they would be missing out.

Also, Snowcrash is great. Very interesting look at an America in the future. Yes, there is swearing and yes there is sex. But if you wanted to accurately portray the past, the present or the future you are likely to have these things. I don't know how you could expect an artist (writer) to not use them. It would be like saying to Picasso, "Hey, love the paintings but could you not use the colour blue, it offends me." I would think Picasso would say and be right, "I'll paint with whatever paints I want that allow me to achieve my artistic vision."

Anyway, I definitely recommend Snowcrash and all other books by Neal Stephenson. But I also encourage people to read Huckleberry Finn (racism and all) and Romeo and Juliet (unprotected teenage sex and all).


message 50: by Ruby (new) - added it

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! This is glorious! Don't mind me- I'm just marking this to come back to later. I'm mystified by people who try to censor their children's experiences in this way, but I don't think I've ever encountered people who try to censor their own experiences of the world this way.


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