If there’s one thing I fucking hate its the gratuitous use of swear words to get attention. A blazing, red-letter example of this can be found in the Winter 2011 edition of ARC magazine. Chris Jennings’s use of the word ‘fuck’ to express his sentiments about an innocent poetic form in his essay ‘On the Sonnet’ is not only inappropriate, it’s also, ultimately vacuous.
I’ll leave intelligent engagement with Jennings’s misgivings to others more qualified. Here, all I’d like to say is that: you don’t fuck a poetic type, any more than you fuck a genre, or species, or an asparagus for that matter. You don’t fuck the sonata, or the polonaise. What you ‘fuck’ or condemn, is a poorly written sonnet, a plodding polonaise, a chicken-shit book review.
Let’s say you’re in the mood for steak. You go to Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Here you can depend on being served a delicious cut every time. You’re not always going to feel like steak. So it wouldn’t be terribly smart to go to Ruth’s Chris every time you felt the urge to dine out. That would be fucking stupid. Similarly, if every restaurant in town for some reason started serving asparagus, and only asparagus, with every dish, it’s hardly the fucking asparagus’s fault that people get tired of eating the thing all the time, now is it?
A chicken-shit book review?
Not only does Jennings fuck up his ARC essay, he also, in the same issue, writes a chicken-shit review of Michael Lista’s Bloom, complete with backhanded slights, groundless objections and tiresome, opportunistic word play. Thankfully, however, he doesn’t resort to using the F word.