The Butterfly Effect of Bawdy Language

It is the lull after the storm. Having rained profanity on camera,  the Ex-PM has speedily put it all behind him, said sorry, and moved on.  From bawdy language to blustering apology to laughing his way out, it was a breeze for the Ex-PM.

For the hacks, it is dead news, probably to be dusted and brought down from the attic at the end of the year,  to figure in  the list of  2010’s WORST, or BEST,  MEMORABLE, OR FORGETTABLE….. Its use-by date just fluttered by, but not before many went back to their rookie days, and wrote columns or blogs revisiting the Deve Gowda of their wet-behind-the-ears days. After falling out with Hegde, he was the same rustic, earthy politician wallowing in the glory of his days as a minister, given to mouthing the same profanity at press conferences in his trademark droll, mumblesome manner.

Only, that was also the time when pretty young things  strayed into journalism, (it wasn’t  politically incorrect to call them PYT in those years, and press conferences were not the melee’ that it has become today,  and everyone knew which reporter was coming from which paper, and it was all bonhomie and family-like, and print journalists didn’t have to end up staring at  the backsides of camera crew, wondering if  they were at the right PC. Of course, now print journalism is much more easier- lift irrigation from Sanjevani, and watching the Kannada 24/7 news channels and some creative writing can result in a reasonably good report that will cheat the Editor for some time )  and inevitably, started to cover his press conferences which meant he had to mind his language, and bite his tongue sheepishly very often, until he learnt to be more kosher,  and took to administering a paternal gaze at the PYTs who became regulars. It was “brother…..” for the guys and ”  adu sistaire……..” for the girls.

Hegde   was a charmer, and many journalists (male and female) clamoured to  attend his press conferences even if  it meant poaching on a colleague’s beat, for the sheer delight of watching him focus the famous glad eye on the best looking (female) reporter in the hall, as he adroitly fielded questions from another corner.  The “object” of Hegde’s attention always had to suffer a great deal of teasing, while everyone trundled out with the story of the day, usually ruing that the “real” copy was  just an occupational hazard, never to be printed, unless someone thought to write their memoirs.

Not that Deve Gowda’s  press meets were all dull . You could’nt nod off, or  play tick-tack-toe with your neighbour, or look out the window wondering when the glucose biscuit, 4 fried cashew nuts and the coffee would come, for fear of missing the news in the monotone.

It was all kosher, however. Which is more than can be said for  the toxic language that is now enshrined in the air-waves for eternity.

And there is the BUTTERFLY EFFECT.

The Butterfly Effect was an idea that MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz came up with, to illustrate the concept that small events CAN have  consequences of great magnitude– a devastating storm might have its roots in  the flapping of a tiny butterfly in another continent half-way across the world.

In his June 8,2008  article in The Boston Globe, Peter Dizikes, writes,  “translated into mass culture, the butterfly effect has become a metaphor for the existence of seemingly insignificant moments that alter history and shape destinies. Typically unrecognized at first, they create threads of cause and effect that appear obvious in retrospect, changing the course of a human life or rippling through the global economy.”

The article also talks of how “THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT” leapt out of Lorenz’s lab to become a catch-phrase and even a title of a movie. In its avatar as a catch-phrase, according to Dizikes, its meaning has become much distorted from the original. The larger meaning of the butterfly effect is not that we can readily track such connections, but that we CAN’T.  To claim a butterfly’s wings can cause a storm, after all, is to raise the question: How can we definitively say what caused any storm, if it could be something as slight as a butterfly? Lorenz’s work gives us a fresh way to think about cause and effect, but does not offer easy answers.

But the popular meaning of the catch-phrase suits us just now.

This  post itself is a consequence of the “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” of  Gowda’s foul language.  As are dozens of others, and the editorials, and the Letters To The Editor in scores of newspapers and magazines.

While on the topic, most people , you’d expect, would focus on the man and his bawdy language . But the Butterfly Effect comes into play willy nilly, and someone objects to Deve Gowda being called Animated Ragi Mudde. It is not clear whether offense has been taken on behalf of the ragi mudde, or the man who globalised  it. Though it’s obvious  the offense-taker could use a funny bone.

Millions of Indians must be wanting to learn Kannada now,  especially the toxic words, and a smart publisher could make a killing.  Mind Your Language may not have to resort to it, but naughty words are great ice-breakers.

Deve Gowda’s rivals, in particular the target of his invectives, must be animatedly exploring possibilities of exploiting the “flutter” that Gowda created, before he claims copyright and proprietary rights over the video clip . As a consequence of such exploration by said rivals,  Gowda may not have to beg that the offending video be removed, since the   target of his invectives will do it himself., for fear that Gowda turn the whole episode round to his advantage entirely, using any means.

So we come to  Lorenz’s question in his 1972 paper “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” He was talking about climate and weather forecasting, and demonstrating that the “innumerable interconnections of nature  exist between a butterfly’s  flapping of the wings and a tornado.

Just like Deve Gowda’s  Bawdy Language and  the offense quotient of Animated Ragi Mudde.

The Profanities of An Animated Ragi Mudde

By Belur Chennakeshava!

We are copycats, but we are also honest. And we have no hesitation in admitting , By Toutatis! that we have taken a leaf out of the Gauls’ book.  And Belur IS ex-PM  country.

Sundays never cease to surprise.   It’s the day our Humble Former declares  Open Season for Profanity. The Humble Former who looks more like an Animated Ragi Mudde (it’s true, you are what you eat)  every day,  has a head start.  But is there a contest on?  The target of his profane outing apparently called him “a desperate man” and had a good day at the movies watching 3 Idiots. As Chief Minister, he doesn’t  care to stoop to the level of an  ex-PM, and everything has its place and time.

ARM’s profanities have prompted a little research into the subject of swearing and  X-rated oaths.  Many great men have extolled the virtues of swearing. The most famous advocate of swearing as a tonic, is of course, Mark Twain.

My favourite Twain  is Under certain circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.

On Sunday, our Homa-loving Desperately Drastic Gnarlatron ( I started to make that  one up, got as far as Gnark, but these days Googling is the mother of invention, and that’s how I found  in  Urban Dictionary. Gnarlatron –Any person or thing that exceeds awesome or sick. Often referred to as uber gnarly or “gnarlatron.” Eg. “Dude, that trick was so gnarlatron!”) Gnark is a word too, but I digress.

HDDG, aka ARM, is not dogged by  morning-after pangs of regret. He has already winged it to Delhi, and is brazening it out with the media, claiming the “excesses of Yeddyurappa ” chiefly being in the chair where he’d rather see his own son sitting, are too provocative for anyone as tolerant as him.  His sons are gamely holding out against attacks from foes-turned-friends-turned-foes,  with threats of retaliation if said f-turned-f-turned-fs didn’t call their protesting pack to heel.  Urgent, desperate circumstances that only profanity can mitigate!

The target of his inglorious epithets,  who went  from numb-with-shock to awestruck ( I mean, it takes guts to swear on camera, even if you have little to lose) to probably-gleeful-in-his sleeve,  couldn’t have asked for more. His shoulders are suddenly lighter by a messy party (of his own making),  an uneasy chair, and enemies within. Amazing what profanity can do.  You get to be the lesser of all evils for free,  though there’s an outside chance that all that name-calling might actually be close to the truth. And he can sue.

Back to our little thesis on profanities and what wise men  say.

Mark Twain had plenty to say on profanity, and knew how to swear without the fear of  punishment. He seems to have applied a couple of them in his life too.  He wrote in  Roughin’  It – I was…blaspheming my luck in a way that made my breath smell of brimstone.

Wonder what one’s  breath smells of when one blasphemes an Ungrateful Wretch,  which is what the ARM would like us to call the CM.


…quadrilateral, astronomical, incandescent son-of-a-bitch.
– Letter to W. D. Howells, (attacking an enemy)  Mark Twain did relish swearing!!

When you’re mad, count four; when you’re very mad, swear! But most of us don’t wait to count four! at least I don’t!
– quoted in A Lifetime with Mark Twain: The Memories of Katy Leary.

(Animated Ragi Mudde    counts only when it suits him, and thinks he has something to gain from it. Okay, everybody makes mistakes.)

All through the first ten years of my married life I kept a constant and discreet watch upon my tongue while in the house, and went outside and to a distance when circumstances were too much for me and I was obliged to seek relief. I prized my wife’s respect and approval above all the rest of the human race’s respect and approval. I dreaded the day when she should discover that I was but a whited sepulcher partly freighted with suppressed language. I was so careful, during ten years, that I had not a doubt that my suppressions had been successful. Therefore I was quite as happy in my guilt as I could have been if I had been innocent. – Mark Twain’s Autobiography

ARM doesn’t have the problem of  having to control his profane predilictions in the presence of his long-suffering wife,  and longer-suffering public).

There ought to be a room in every house to swear in. It’s dangerous to have to repress an emotion like that- Twain said it, but I’m guessing ARM doesn’t know that, or doesn’t care if he did.

Twain said: The idea that no gentleman ever swears is all wrong. He can swear and still be a gentleman if he does it in a nice and benevolent and affectionate way. Of course our Animated Ragi Mudde swore, not in a nice, benevolent and affectionate way, though today he wants  people to be nice, benevolent and affectionate to him and his,  and consider how provocative the circumstances are just now.

The Animated Ragi Mudde may have heard of Mark Twain, or not,  but  Twain’s pearls on profanity seem tailor-made for him-   Let us swear while we may, for in Heaven it will not be allowed, Twain wrote in Notebook, 1898.


If I cannot swear in heaven I shall not stay there. – Notebook, 1898

So where the hell are we?

Did the CM swear? Just because he said nothing, or very little, it doesn’t mean he didn’t.  Mark Twain has quotes for that too. He didn’t utter a word, but he exuded mute blasphemy from every pore. – Autobiography of Mark Twain.

Some profanity funda  (for ARM to meditate on, and for others to gloat on)

Profanity is the weapon of the witless.

Profanity is the attempt of the lazy and feeble mind to express itself forcefully.

When a man uses profanity to support an argument, it indicates that either the man or the argument is weak- probably both.

Profanity is the common crutch of the conversational cripple-  David Keuck.

Can  profanity be good for anyone?  Cheering news for newspaper fellows:

My approach to newspapers was based on the idea that when you looked at the front page you said: ‘Good heavens’, when you looked at the middle page you said: ‘Holy smoke’, and by the time you got to the back page, well, I’d have to utter a profanity to show how exciting it was. -British Journalist  Arthur Christiansen, in Headlines all my Life.

Well, I’ll be……….