Of LCD Monitors, Old Novels, and Stranger Things

Warning: May Contain Language.

I try to be an informed consumer; nobody knows the value of careful deliberation and researched and jaundiced critical evaluation more than I. Nonetheless, I do occasionally wind up with goods that were clearly beaten with a crap stick somewhere during the design and/or manufacturing process. I try not to be bitter about this, but instead take the opportunity to look upon these incidents as learning experiences, grow, and move on, somewhat poorer, but somewhat wiser.

For instance, having recently purchased an LCD monitor from ViewSonic – the VA2323WM, though I doubt you care – I’ve learned three things: I hate LCD monitors in general, ViewSonic make absolutely crap LCD monitors, and the people who review monitors on Amazon are fucking dillholes.

Now, I’ve also been reading a lot of ancient novels again lately, mostly very late Victorian or late Edwardian, and one thing I’ve found particularly fascinating is the almost ridiculous difference between the insults of that era and of our own. Not just the difference, but the general and mostly clearly palpable superiority of insults from a century ago.

Much like the decline in musical ability over the decades, I blame drug use.

Today, the height, such as it is, of insultery is to either resort to crude and witless homophobia, or make a blatant reference to bodily fluids or emissions. “Faggot”, which probably comprises 20% of all internet traffic, is utterly lacking in wit or subtelty; likewise terms such as “dipshit”, “shithead”, and “douchebag”; “asshole” is scarcely better.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all a fan of homophobia or intolerance, but if that’s your thing, I think “simpering, limp-wristed martinet” is a vastly superior slur to “faggot” or “arse bandit”. Likewise, calling someone a “whore” is completely lacking in style, compared to, say, “painted Jezebel”. If you’re going to insult someone, at least have the decency to suppose they have a modicum of education; when you’re proven wrong, you get the added bonus of being able to snicker at their uncouth savagery, eh what?

Consider modern maledicta, such as they are. What is meant by douchebag, and why is that term an insult? (The whole bodily-fluid thing, one supposes. Yet one never hears “catheter bag” or “diaphragm” used as insults…) Everyone somehow understands that a “corn-hole” is synonymous with “asshole”, though nobody agrees on why. (Decades of linguistic argument can be broken down into one phrase: Undigested kernels or corn cobs used as toilet paper. Ouchie.) “Gobshite” is a quaint insult from the days of yore which works on many levels (it can be interpreted to mean either one who “talks shit”, or “an ass-licker”, itself an endlessly fascinating term of derision.) “Prick” and its many synonyms seem puerile and juvenile, their ultimate meaning unclear. (Consider an alien lifeform attempting to decipher the meaning of the term “prick” as applied to a person. They’re soft and flabby? Are swayed by the gentlest of caresses (i.e. easily… manipulated)? Shrink from the cold? Make women happy? Seem to be full of piss?)

That brings me back to “dillholes”, i.e. the supposed people who review LCD monitors on Amazon. What’s a dillhole? Well, an uncultured ignoramus utterly lacking in taste or refinement, obviously. But why? What does dillhole mean? Supposedly, it’s a softened neologism for “dickhole”, a term that’s far from widespread in use as an insult, and is apparently meant somewhat literally. (The whole insults-through-allusions-to-bodily-fluids thing again, I guess.) Personally, I’d guessed it was some sort of rural reference to “glory holes”, i.e. an inbred redneck who engages in casual sex with complete strangers, which, honestly, would be a much better insult than, basically, calling someone a “urethra”.

This is why modern insults leave me in despair; they lack meaning, and thus impact. “Vainglorious peacock” is clear and straightforward, if a mouthful, and passes clear and unequivocal judgement on the person involved, while “son of a bitch” and “bastard” merely insult one’s parentage, about which one has no control. When one is called a dickhead, one is probably not insulted per se, but merely tendered a construct that society has deemed an insult, by convention. Slander by mutual agreement, basically.

“Sir, be hereby informed that I shall now refer to you with unflattering intent by a brief and unclever term with no widely agreed-upon meaning, pending your implicit agreement to take umbrage or offense at same, and interpret it in the light in which it is intended, i.e. a grave slur upon your character, and/or that of your mother.”

To that end, I humbly propose two new terms of art for the tendering of insults upon those most richly deserving them: Gumball and jawbreaker.

“You, sir, are naught but a gumball.”
“Oh? How so? Pray tell, my fellow.”
“Very well. You are so rotund as to be practically spherical; you are bland, soft, exceedingly cheap, and difficult to digest; you are lacking in nutritional or any other value, artificially colored, potentially detrimental to health upon prolonged exposure, and of nought but the barest, fleeting use as a source of entertainment for working-class children.”
“I see.”
“Also, please know that I opine your mother to be a jawbreaker.”
“Do explain.”
“Gladly. She is, like you, rotund, only to excess; artificially-colored and deceptive in appearance; she is without any personal utility or merit, a leftover and outdated relic of an earlier and simpler time; she is overpriced, sad as I am to say such a thing, and she is in my opinion most likely fated to be discarded as trash after a brief and unfulfilling period of use by someone who finds her unsatisfying.”
“I say!”

Alas, these are unlikely to catch on, but one can always hope.

Published in: Geekiness, General | on December 9th, 2010| 2 Comments »

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  1. On 12/26/2010 at 11:55 am Calculator Ftvb Said:

    “Also, please know that I opine your mother to be a jawbreaker.?
    Wait a minute! What about your statement regarding «“son of a bitch? and “bastard? merely insult one’s parentage, about which one has no control»? 😉

  2. On 12/26/2010 at 1:04 pm Nemo Said:

    Ah, you caught that. Well done. 🙂

    My belief – represented in the post above – is that there is something inexplicable deep-rooted in human nature which ensures that, however erudite or verbose the prevailing stardards of disrespect and dishonor, and however meaningful the vernacular of insultery may become, mankind will always, inevitably, when push comes to shove, take refuge in the time-honored tradition of insulting yo mamma. 😀