No blog postings this past week. I have instead taken four long flights and three days of hard work at a new mine in Guatemala. On the plane, I read many books; on the site, I met many fine miners; on the site, I saw fabulous geology; on paper, we sketched designs for things that will take years to build and last thereafter for centuries. Two of the books I finished on the planes are: (1) Filthy English, The How, Why,When and What of Everyday Swearing; and (2) The Hunger Games.
The first is a serious dissertation on swearing, including the seven words you may not use of TV. I have used six in regular talk. The seventh even I avoid, and I am of South African origins and South Africans, like Australians, swear a lot more than the prim & proper people of North America. Personally, I find North Americans so politically correct in matters of swearing: never a foul word passes their pure lips. Their speech is dull & dreary with proper, acceptable words. Why, even in this blog, I avoid colorful language, lest I offend sensitive readers. There is a tyranny of exclusion of good words that help us express our emotions.
There were, in the book on swearing, words that I had not hitherto heard. Latin swear words our teachers never taught us in seven years of Latin studies. The one I liked most (dicitae labdeae) will never be usable by me. Or in the modern world of political correctness, there is irrumator. Fear not, in the book there are many more words you may not have heard before, and probably never will be able to use, even in appropriate settings. Still on a long flight to Guatemala, the book is fun and instructive reading.
When we got there, I was, of course, not able to swear, even though occasion arose. Instead I walked the site in order to get a feel for the geomorphology and geology—for we were drilling into volcanic ashes and tuffs that will underlie out tailings facilities. In fascination, I inspected an old earth mound: there are four on the site. These mounds are probably 1,000-years old. Only one stands proud. My guide told me that it consists of stone blocks covered by soil, grass, and trees. I have always been fascinated by the idea of earth mounds that last 1,000 years. And here I was able to walk up and down and around one at the very place that I am designing a new geomorphic form that must last at least 1,000 years.
But as I stood on the south-facing platform of the burial mound, I recalled how violent this society probably was. You know: human sacrifice and all that—I could imagine maidens prepared to follow their lord to the darkness. And my mind went to the book The Hunger Games, which is the most disturbing book I have ever read. Yet I am hooked and spent today reading the second in the three-part series. Could religion or the collapse of civil society bring us to this? Then I recalled other places and times where killing the innocent was sport and fun for ordinary societies of spoilt people, and the answer was that it could happen. Ban swearing, suppress swearing, and you are on your way to suppressing the individual, the personal, the human, and the free spirit that motivates us.
So I stood on the platform of the burial mound built 1,000 years ago and shouted the most obscene words I know to the wind and the lush surrounding vegetation and the great house on top of the hill where the lord of the valley lives. And then I went and did creative mining design.