Missed last week? Read from the beginning.
On Curses and Cussing, Part 4: Meanwhile, back on Caprica. . .
Last time, I talked about how, sadly, Battlestar Galactica’s attempt to create futuristic swearing broke the Fourth Wall. It asserted that after hundreds of years, the only development to the English language was the F-word. Worse, its evolution was a novelty that any grammarian or lover of English would find awkward. It would be very difficult to progress from the F-word to the word “Frak” in any native or natural way. Such a change in use of language would have to be imposed from the outside, as indeed it was, by the producers of the show.
With that in mind, I’ve endeavored in Dust to replace all human emotion, slang and swearing with words that are not our modern words but that serve the same purpose. Much of this is done with spelling and my reflection on the way the extinction of written language would impact how words are heard, repeated and passed forward over time. The details are fascinating to me, though I will admit, they may bore you.
At the end of the day, anybody who desires to write a story for the readers of the present age, or to impact future generations, can’t afford to be precocious with his use of language. If one is to develop a believable dystopian future in which the catastrophic results of human sinfulness are depicted, pretentiousness needs to be put aside. If Christians want to tell meaningful fictional stories that honestly depict both the ongoing struggle for life and the redemptive arch of providence and salvation from truly disastrous lives, then we can’t be preachy about the world's vocabulary while we do it.
As a result, Dust most definitely involves “cursing” as we define the term today. The main character (without question a psychological projection of myself, as most first novelists must do), will continually make use of common language from the world in which he lives. This is to emphasize the guttural depths of his own sinful condition, the fusion of his personal fears, doubts and passions with a believable character.
I’m not saying that I personally cuss all the time in my head. I am saying if I wasn’t a Christian, and lived in a world where there were no grammarians, but only weapons and starvation, I most certainly would.