In the 60s, Jerry Rubin wrote that "fuck" was the last word in the English language. What he meant was that all the other words of power had been appropriated and used up by ad agencies. Fuck, he claimed, enjoyed special protection as the most unspeakable of profanities.
These days fuck has lost much of its power through overuse. I'm sure it will soon be fit for Madison Avenue, and we'll have to suffer a new generation of slogans like "Coke -- it's fucking good."
Six of the seven words that made up George Carlin's famous Seven Words You Can't Say On TV -- fuck, shit, piss, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits -- have lost much of their potency in recent years.
And so it has come to pass that "cunt" is the last word in the English language. Cock, of course, was always less charged than cunt, because it had other uses. You could cock an ear or a pistol. You could say, "I like your cock" to someone with a rooster and neither of you would bat an eyelid. But "I like your cunt" could only mean one thing.
This is unfair. You should be able to say the word like a prayer.
There was a time when I made constant tender attempts to utter the word with grace. I may have achieved this occasionally, but only when suffused in the right kind of candlelight. Only in the presence of the beloved and with a sigh. Under those circumstances it can be a warm word to say. Not a head word, but a word that resonates in the chest, at home in the body.
Ultimately, though, it's a hard word to make friendly -- all its nasty connotations quickly re-envelop it in society's shocked glare. So it remains in its chador. Spurned by proper people. Uttered only as an imprecation or for effect. A word that emanates from the lexicons like Ayurvedic thunder -- the one word from which all morphing others emerge. A holy word, I say. Whole, holey and holy, it's the promised country, the home-urge, the animal entry, the temple's first inspiration.
Of course, cunt does have its dark side. It's the original needle's eye through which we must all come a-camelling. As such, it can be the renderer, the cruncher, the shatterer of prenatal worlds. The Kali-ma mother mouth that spits us out into exile.
But it's such a useful word, signifying not just vagina, labia, ovaries or womb, but the whole of the female genitalia. It's the one name of the first human home, the begetting and returning place (at least for het males). It is the alpha and omega stretching back in a long cuntinuum through cunt, cunny and kunda to the time of the ancient goddess Kunte.
So why should a word with such a fine pedigree cuntinue to be outcast, stricken from courteous parlance and left to hunker at the bottom of the lingo like some kind of shamed and chained cunctipotent narwhal? Not surprisingly, there's a move on to reclaim the word.
I suspect this may take a lot more Scottish movies than are currently available. Cunt may have to insinuate itself gradually and subtly back into the language. To lubricate its way, I have a few suggestions. First, let us recall some of the fine words with which cunt is cognate. First of these, of course, is "country." Whenever we sing O Canada, let's remember this. Cunt and country share the same root. If we want to be really proactive on the cunt front, we should drop the "o" and proudly say that Canada is our cuntry. Think also of the word "queen," which devolves through "quan" and "quim" to -- you guessed it -- cunt. When we sing God Save The Queen (Sex Pistols version or otherwise), let us revel loyally in the fact that the queen is emblematic of the great cunt of creation itself. Hallelujah.
Additional creative linguistic steps could be taken. Perhaps we could rename certain birds cunts. "Listen, I hear the chirping of a couple of little cunts outside my window" might be a good and evolved way to start your day. Mayor Mel, too, if he moves quickly, could contribute to the process. Instead of those ridiculous mooses everywhere, how about a collection of different-coloured neon "cunt" signs throughout the city? Toronto, city of cunts.
Still, even with vigorous moves like those I've described, it may be a while before we're ready to cross the vast gulf between vagina and cunt.
When that day comes, when finally we're able to say cunt and experience no more opprobrium than as if we'd said "god" or "wrist" or "eyes," that will be a great day for humankind.
I wonder what the swear words will be then?