Be Careful - Caustic Criticism Beats Complimentary Comments Every Time

Be Careful - Caustic Criticism Beats Complimentary Comments Every Time

On 1 May 1994, Hunter S Thomson drew his pen from its sheath and repeatedly stabbed the lifeless body of Richard Nixon as it lay in state. Check it out in Rolling Stone Magazine. It's a beautiful piece. Powerful, angry, hateful, visceral, but, above all, so elegantly readable. In fact, let's be honest - it's bloody wonderful.

Like every home and office, bar and café this morning (April 5th 2013), the brave folk here at Fearlessly Frank are debating Thatcher.

Somewhat ruefully, I realize I'm the only person who actually was at work through her 'reign'. So actually, we're not "debating Thatcher" - we're collecting the snide, witty, naughty snippets about her and sending them to each other. The more caustic, the better. What fun.

Planet Earth is already preparing itself for the demise of another leader. Not too soon we hope, obviously, but Nelson Mandela is beginning to, how shall I put it, "pack his bags".

The world will erupt into hysteria and powerful positive tributes will abound. They will be tinged by sorrow, because a good man lost is sad.

But a contentious woman lost is an altogether different thing. As we are witnessing. Some are sad and some are glad.

Laudatory tributes, tinged by sadness and a real sense of loss are not as powerful as vitriolic, violent, emotional outbursts. Hatred is stronger than Love. Let's turn to Catullus for a moment. (Come on!)

Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris?

nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

No marking me for translation please, or its lack of chiastic structure:

I hate and I love. Why do I do it, you might perhaps ask?

I don't know, but I feel it happening to me and it's ripping me apart.

It's the negative words (such as "ripping me apart") that make this poem. The expression of love is now negative, smothered by a sentiment of torment.

Somewhere amid the mud-slinging and the praise will lie measured argument. History will eventually unearth it and both Saint Nelson and Lady Margaret will be objectively judged.

I muse that this objectivity is important in many aspects of our lives: our friends, our views on brands and products and sports competitions, to name but a few.

Ripping apart a company is much more fun than praising it. I can't be the only one hearing way in the distance the knives being sharpened in readiness to eviscerate Apple. What fun. Again.

The poet Keats, oddly, provides us with a framework for understanding this kind of hate/love behavior. He devised the term "Negative Capability" to describe the capacity of human beings to transcend and revise their contexts.

A healthy society must vent its views in full. But all hail the real observers who contextualise and make sense and hopefully provide us with a route map of explanation.

In the meantime, bring it on, good, bad and indifferent, but, come on guys, take a cue from Hunter, be writers, raise your game, make it fun, readable, witty and sharp. Just being boorishly caustic or just being smugly complimentary will condemn you to the history bin of cheap shots.

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