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Squid #387
(published June 19, 2008)
Ask the Giant Squid: The Zone of Profanity
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Dear Giant Squid,

Sometimes your keepers/servants need to get a grip on their language skills. Profanity is the last resort of a dull mind - at least that's what I've always been taught. In other words, if they don't have anything worth saying, don't try to disguise it with a lot of fancy *&#%. A wise person once said a man can keep his mouth shut and be thought a fool, or speak and be proven a fool. Not that any of your friends are fools; I assume they are fairly intelligent and find them immensely entertaining. I also enjoy hearing of your exploits and learning your opinions of our culture, etc.


Dearest Booklover the 45th,

What a long lineage you must have to trace your name back so far. Truly I am impressed.

Setting aside the moment of my servants and employees and associates, and what can only be called their tottering fascination with vulgarity, let me regale you, Booklover the 45th, with the first time I ever did utter a swear.

It was during my young adult years, an elongated adolescence when I did cavort with dangerous types in the deep sea beds of yore. Some chroniclers refer to it as my Blue Period for my chromatophores were always tuned to a moody blue, the color of rage and denial. My dwelling at the time was a repurposed shipping container once claimed by the hungry arms of mollusks, but forged into a sort of cantina for those who felt no pull from society's currents.

The green-shelled container perched at the edge of a great abyss. Strong eddies would shake the walls and tumble our drinking mugs. You could tell the visitors from the locals at times like these: visitors would panic and leap for the doors, while the locals would hurried finish the drinks left behind. It was a rough life suited only to those who were done with living. In the local patois, the abyss was known as The Zone. It was an unpredictable land of shifting sands, collapsing walls and physics that obeyed no terrestrial math. The Zone was a warren of coral caverns threaded through a collapsed atoll. The skeleton of a Blue Whale marked the entrance but nothing beyond was certain.

Employment called to me from the mouths of tourists desperate to see The Zone, to uncover the mysteries within. Like one mired in fate's doldrums I was eager for any momentum. Always I said yes.

Opinions varied wildly over what The Zone truly was. Some claimed it was the remnants of an atomic bomb testing site, nursery to the fat men and little boys of Oppenheimer's loins. They claimed that the shattered ions had bent the laws of nature, twisted life into impossible shapes that roamed at the corners of your mind, prayed on the lost traveler. Others said it was the great R'lyeh itself, non-euclidean home of the Walker and the Lurker and He Who Paints The Waves With Madness. They said to walk the halls and corridors of The Zone was to invite mental breakdown, physical decrepitude. And others still maintained it was contact from beyond the stars, beyond the universe that warped The Zone. That the force of the entry into our sphere of existence by this thing was so great that it left an impact crater in the fabric of reality, physical laws swirling about like so many ripples in a pond.

The first time I swore, Booklover, was my last excursion into The Zone.

I was leading an expedition of two human divers, one a brave man and one a coward. One craving enlightenment and the other riches. Both believed that somewhere in The Zone was the answer they needed. They were Wise Man and Foolish Man, though in their pressurized suits I could not always tell them apart.

Nine days in we began to run out of food. Paths I had tread before safely were now treacherous. My tentacles touched every rock to feel out hot spots, acid baths, pockets of pressurized ammonia. We found a corridor made of roiling fire on the ocean floor. Our senses failed us for hours on end and we guided by smells of peanuts, memories of mothers like radar in the deep, whispers on the waves.

On that ninth day in the bowels of our planet we came to the room both men searched for. An undersea grotto, waterless, a horrible vacuum into which I could not enter. Both men, however, did. In that room was a golden sphere no larger that an apple. It bobbed in the air in time to secret rhythms. The men had mentioned this device to me, but I had taken it as myth.

The sphere was the power source of the ufo. It was the soul of The One Who Waits Impatiently For His Time. It was the remnant of the nuclear testing bomb, the afterbirth of the Manhattan Project. Descriptions varied but all stories ended thusly: the sphere could grant wishes to those who held it in their hands and kissed it. The Wise Man and The Fool raced across the room towards the sphere, wishes bubbling from their minds. They both struggled to remove their headgear first, convinced the other would first wish them out of existence.

And this is the point where I swore, Booklover.

For the men were still pressurized for their descent to the ocean floor and when they popped the protective seals on their exploration garments the lack of pressure in that tricksy room caused their blood to boil and froth. The Wise Man's knees exploded first, bones tearing apart his pants like so much shrapnel. The Fool's eyes were next. They shot from his eyes like darting fish and careened off that terrible orb. Piece by piece the men disintegrated as the very walls of their body refused to hold in their vapors. Minutes later the room was painted red and that terrible orb seemed to smile at me.

It was then that I let loose a long string of profanity. As would you as well, Booklover.

Profanity is not, as you say, "the last resort of a dull mind." Surely it could be, were we limited to seven small words. But the art of profaning is an act of bottomless creativity. Listen to Devo in his lab and you shall see. Witness Molly as she observes the Johnny McCain on the internet giving a speech and as she peppers him with words never before heard. Profanity is a dialect all it's own, good sir. Like any dialect there are those who speak it not at all, and those to who it is their lingua franca. Witness Rob.

Did you know that the Russian language has an entire syntactic case devoted to vulgarity? Did you know that the monks of Sri Lanka hold a festival every year wherein they forge a new expletive and tattoo it upon the tongue of a goat? Did you know that the Sioux of North Dakota believed once that swearing was speaking with the tongue of the Trickster himself?

Words are but tools, Booklover. And we must use the tools that the gods have given us, and not seek out those forbidden.

In darkness,
I remain,
The Giant Squid

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