One might approach an inferno with caution, for dark words obscure the ill-lit path. Remember the scene in “City Slickers” when Ira and Barry claim to be able to identify the correct ice cream desert for any given meal? Of course there can’t be a correct answer, a right or wrong, yet their answers are persuasive. They seem to get it right. Just so, is there a right invective to suit a given malevolent character? The ubiquitous a__hole is the easily reached standby, a single scoop in a sugar cone. Some invectives the general interest reader might find offensive, even if earned by the target. Joyce used “rabblement” to round up the usual suspects: “Now, your popular devil is more dangerous than your vulgar devil. Bulk and lungs count for something, and he can gild his speech aptly.” Sometimes, though, the stream of invective seems preferred: “You unpatriotic rotten doctor Commie rat,” Bob Dylan’s farmer yells in “Motorpsycho Nightmare.” But the single word rant is probably the perfect invective, like the perfect ice cream desert, a single scoop of the only flavor possible. Still, if one wants to be remembered for one’s invective, perhaps the Spiro Agnew (from a phrase prepared by William Safire) approach is best: “nattering nabobs of negativism.” To what wordly-inferno do we credit this reflection on invectives? Over at one of our blog subscriptions, “My Life and Thoughts,” where we find the energetic and enterprising Elif pondering the right word for the forsoaken characters of Dante’s “Inferno.” Of course, there’s the possibility the discussion is a marketing ploy, which we approached without caution, but no worries, for there’s little invective in a marketing campaign.
Published by Joe Linker
"The Coming of the Toads" by Joe Linker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, and Copyright 2007-2021 Joe Linker - author of "Penina's Letters," "Coconut Oil," "Scamble and Cramble: Two Hep Cats and Other Tall Tales," "Saltwort," "Alma Lolloon," and "end tatters." View all posts by Joe Linker