Ok, language alert. As you can already tell by the title I’ve already abandoned my usually urbane and non-scatalogical approach to writing. But it seems necessary given the topic at hand. This is something I think about from time to time and I’d really love to get to the bottom of.
Current usage, particularly in internet memes, has fucks being something, i.e. a noun, perhaps an object or concept, that I can give or not give depending on my orientation to the situation at hand. I wonder whether fucks have a weight, texture or colour that distinguishes them from other things that I might or might not choose to give. I’m sure that, given the option, Clark Gable would have chosen to not give a fuck in preference to not giving a damn, but that is only because it was a fairly sexual sort of relationship he had going on and damn is considerably less sexy than fuck. But the question of choosing between damn and fuck wouldn’t have come up 80 years ago. These days damn has no power over us at all. We need something with a bit of punch, but still something that we’d be likely to encounter on television. Damn first made it into the cinemas in Gone with the Wind. Fuck made it to television… well quite a while ago now. Once it made it to television not giving a fuck started to replace not giving a shit which had been the gold standard for a long time. I don’t know if we’re likely to move on much beyond fuck in the not giving stakes because there only seems to be one word left. Since cunt is in the process of being reclaimed by women in the western world (and let’s be honest, they have more of a right to it that any of us of the masculine persuasion), it is probably not something we will choose to not be giving in the future. So fuck may be here to stay. On the other hand, now that we are running out of words we may simply return to the grand old standard “hoot”. Which brings up the question of what “hoot” might have been a euphemism for, but I digress.
Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to talk about.
The question has to do with “fuck it” or any of the alternatives. What do I mean by “it”? It’s pretty clear that fuck is just a charged word – it could be, and historically has been, any charged word that suggests an action. That action is directed towards “it”. So what is “it”? The phase is an expression of defiance (fuck it, I’ll have another piece of pie; fuck it, I’ll sleep in this morning and exercise another day; fuck it, one more drink won’t hurt), but it’s an internal defiance. It clearly seems to be about one part of me defying another part – the part that knows I want to do telling the part that knows what I “should” be doing to fuck off. As such I could understand a soto voce fuck you to my interior other, but that’s not what I say. I say fuck “it”. And “it” remains undefined.
I could get all psychological or philosophical at this point and offer theories and explanations for this expression. I could examine it from a number of points of view and dig deep into nuance to find a deeper human truth in this expression. I could detail my research and explain my motivations. I could, perhaps, discover a spiritual dimension buried deep in this “it”.
Fuck it. I’ll just stop here.