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Ayn Rand has stated in one of her books on writing (The Art of Writing Fiction/Non-fiction) that swearing -- specifically words such as the F or S bombs, not "damn" or "Hell" -- is improper in communication since these words literally have no meaning and communicate nothing; instead they are signs of intellectual impotence when a person resorts to them. As proof of their non-objectivity, take for instance the fact that these words can be taken to mean a great many things, all unrelated and varied in evaluation. Consequently, it is understandable why Rand has largely refrained from cursing in her writing.

However, wouldn't it be aesthetically proper for, say, a fictional villain in Rand's universe to swear to indicate their intellectual impotence? Take, for instance, if James Taggart, the main villain of Atlas Shrugged, were to drop a few F bombs to display his rampant emotionalism.

asked Nov 30 '10 at 11:13

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edited Nov 30 '10 at 11:30

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Greg Perkins ♦♦

James Taggart is not a villain in the 007-type villain, but in a nihilistic elitist one. Swearing, in my opinion, would not fit James' character.

(Nov 30 '10 at 12:17) Cherman Cherman's gravatar image

The weakest manner in which to engage in dialogue is through use of insults or other ad hominem attacks. The villains in Ms Rand's novels display their character through their actions and their values (or lack thereof). To degrade them through use of gutter language would equate to ad hominem insults and would detract from their real villainy and lack of ethics. As such, it would be a worse than unnecessary method of showing them to be intellectually and morally corrupt.

answered Nov 30 '10 at 21:41

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ethwc ♦

Good and concise answer ethwc. There is nothing to be gained by introducing such an element as it detracts from the driving point and distracts the reader from what he should be focusing on. Instead the reader will focus more on the "rough and rude" and less specifically, on that characters actions and more importantly his overall ethics and value judgments which are a consequence and representation of his philosophy. In a sense this unnecessarily "muddies the waters" when the purpose of the fiction is to contrast these two conflicting philosophies, altruism and Objectivist egoism.

(Nov 30 '10 at 22:28) capitalistswine ♦ capitalistswine's gravatar image

It may be worth noting that Rand had at least one character who was expressly presented as rude and crude: Gus Webb. While he didn't drop the F or S bombs, he did use some roughly equivalent slang for the setting, e.g. "balls". I think Rand's artistic purpose with that character was specifically to illustrate how the ideas championed by urbane intellectuals like Toohey led to the coarsening of the culture by elevating hoodlums like Webb to prominence. Webb's vacuity was the point.

(Dec 01 '10 at 02:42) Kyle Haight ♦ Kyle%20Haight's gravatar image

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Asked: Nov 30 '10 at 11:13

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Last updated: Dec 01 '10 at 02:42