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Two words!

Sunday January 16th, 2011 in Anarchism, Audio books, History, Politics | No Comments »

I’ve just read What is Property by Joseph-Pierre Proudhon, which stridently argues that all property is theft.

Proudhon wrote in the mid-19th century and has a flourishing style. In particular, he loves exclamation marks, writing sentences such as, “Days of conflagration and anguish!” He really peaks in brilliance though, with his two word explosions of repulsion. For example, “Deplorable pride!”

You don’t see many sentences like that now. But I think there is no better way to decry. Let’s take another example. The sentence, “false calculation” sounds like the sort of thing an accountant might write in the margin of a tax return. But the sentence, “False calculation!” suggests an error of huge importance, which we will naturally want to get hysterical about.

I also like the economy of this technique. When Proudhon writes, “Debased creature!” in just two words we are left in no doubt that, in his opinion, the way the bourgeoisie are behaving is pretty well not on.

So I would like to see more of the 19th century two-word exclamation of disgust in modern writing. I thought I’d start by describing some of my worst ever story tape experiences using this form. I am not saying that these books are necessarily bad, just that I had a rotten time listening to them.

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus: Infuriating inaction!

Momento Mori by Murial Spark: Existential calamity!

The Reef by Di Morrissey: Vexed exposition!

The Clicking of Cuthbert by PG Wodehouse: Interminable golf!

The Daredevil Tycoon by Barbara McMahon: Total crap!

So I recommend that you have a go yourselves. It’s fun. Wretched abacus!