The Leading Investigative Satirist Sounds Off on Hypocrisy, Censorship and Free Expression
Author: Paul Krassner
Publisher: Cleis Press
Paul Krassner's style of personal journalism constantly blurs the line between the observer and the participant. Nowhere is this more apparent than in this collection of essays and interviews culled from his columns at AVN online. With a biting wit and tongue firmly planted in cheek, Paul Krassner reveals the absurdity of oppressive social mores in this stark, funny and ultimately thought-provoking collection.
When President Obama signed the affordable health care act in 2009, the Vice President was overheard to utter an enthusiastic "This is a big f****** deal!" A town in Massachusetts levies $20 fines on swearing in public. Nothing is as paradoxical as our attitude toward swearing and "bad language": how can we judge profanity so harshly in principle, yet use it so frequently in practice? Though profanity is more acceptable today than ever, it is still labeled as rude, or at best tolerable only under specific circumstances. Cursing, many argue, signals an absence of character, or poor parenting, and is something to avoid at all costs. Yet plenty of us are unconcerned about the dangers of profanity; bad words are commonly used in mainstream music, Academy Award-winning films, books, and newspapers. And of course, regular people use them in conversation every day. In In Praise of Profanity, Michael Adams offers a provocative, unapologetic defense of profanity, arguing that we've oversimplified profanity by labeling it as taboo. Profanity is valuable, even essential, both as a vehicle of communication and an element of style. As much as we may deplore it in some contexts, we should celebrate it in others. Adams skillfully weaves together linguistic and psychological analyses of why we swear-for emotional release, as a way to promote group solidarity, or to create intimate relationships -- with colorful examples of profanity in literature, TV, film, and music, such as The Sopranos, James Kelman's How Late It Was, How Late, or the songs of Nellie McKay. This breezy, jargon-free book will challenge readers to reconsider the way they think about swearing.
On the death of Edward Gibbon (1737-94), his unpublished papers were left to his friend John Baker Holroyd, first earl of Sheffield, who published them in two volumes in 1796. Gibbon had written six manuscript accounts of his own life, and, according to Sheffield, had always intended to publish his autobiography in his lifetime. The memoir as edited by Sheffield begins with Gibbon's family history, and taking in his education, travels, and career as a historian, finishes with his anxiety over the future of Europe in 1788. Sheffield then continues the story until Gibbon's death through his correspondence, providing a linking narrative, and this, together with 210 other letters to and from Gibbon, takes up Volume 1. His great work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, is also reissued (in the 1896-1900 edition by J. B. Bury) in the Cambridge Library Collection.
Of Shakespeare’s sonnets we know the crystalline meter, exquisite diction, and exhilarating surprise of the “turn” in the final couplet. By contrast, we know very little of their subjects and motives. This book does not approach the sonnets as Shakespearean autobiography but instead delineates the customs that shaped the poet’s world and thus his sonnets. It argues for understanding them as brilliant, edgy expressions of the equally brilliant, edgy culture of the English Renaissance.
St Augustine, bishop of Hippo, was one of the central figures in the history of Christianity, and City of God is one of his greatest theological works. Written as an eloquent defence of the faith at a time when the Roman Empire was on the brink of collapse, it examines the ancient pagan religions of Rome, the arguments of the Greek philosophers and the revelations of the Bible. Pointing the way forward to a citizenship that transcends the best political experiences of the world and offers citizenship that will last for eternity, City of God is one of the most influential documents in the development of Christianity.