"When people grow older, they come to be responsible for what they know. If they continue to refer to an iconography of excrement, they have to embrace excrement as worthy of their attention, and direct the enthusiasm of their fellows to excrement -- not just to the discovery of the truth about excrement, but to excrement."

George W. S. Trow, Within the Context of No Context

Within the Context of No Context originally appeared in The New Yorker and was published in book form by Little, Brown, and Company, Boston, 1981.

 

The New Yorker Anthology of Literature

The classic version of the New Yorker Anthology of Literature, edited by William Shawn, has been out of print for many years. We are pleased to announce that an updated version, revised according to the editorial principles of David Remnick and his staff, will be published early next year. For those who would like a spot comparison between the two versions, we have compiled a list of representative examples.

 

Geoffrey Chaucer (Shawn)

Whan Zephyrus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the younge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve course yronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye
That sleepen all the night with open ye,
So priketh him Nature in hir corages
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilrimages

Geoffrey Chaucer (Remnick)

Whan Zephyrus eek with his fuckinge breeth
Inspired hath in every fuckinge heeth
The fuckinge croppes, and the younge sonne
Hath in the Ram his fuckinge course yronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye
That sleepen all the night with open ye,
So priketh him Nature in hir corages
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilrimages

William Shakespeare (Shawn)

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besemeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.

William Shakespeare (Remick)

Not marble, nor the fucking monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this fucking rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than fucking stone, besemeared with fucking time.
When fucking war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
No fucking sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
The fucking record of your memory.

John Milton (Shawn)

O father, what intends thy hand," she cried,
"Against thy only son? What fury, O son,
Possesses thee to bend that mortal dart
Against thy father's head? And know'st for whom?
For Him who sits above and laughs the while
At thee ordained his drudge, to execute
Whate'er his wrath, which he calls Justice, bids."

John Milton (Remick)

"O father, what intends thy hand," she cried,
"Against thy fucking son? What fury, O son,
Possesses thee to bend that fucking dart
Against thy father's head? And know'st for whom?
For Him who sits above and laughs the while
At thee his fucking drudge, to execute
Whate'er his wrath, which he calls Justice, bids."

Jonathan Swift (Shawn)

I lay down in the grass, which was very short and soft, where I slept sounder than ever I remember to have done in my life, and as I reckoned, above nine hours; for when I awaked, it was just daylight. I attempted to rise, but was not able to stir: for as I happened to lie on my back, I found my arms and legs were strongly fastened on each side to the ground; and my hair, which was long and thick, tied down in the same manner. I likewise felt several slender ligatures across my body, from my armpits to my thighs. I could only look upwards; the sun began to grow hot, and the light offended my eyes.

Jonathan Swift (Remnick)

I lay down in the grass, which was very short and soft, where I slept sounder than ever I remember to have done in my life, and as I reckoned, above nine fucking hours; for when I awaked, it was just daylight. I attempted to rise, but was not able to stir: for as I happened to lie on my back, I found my fucking arms and legs were strongly fastened on each side to the fucking ground; and my hair, which was long and thick, tied down in the same fucking manner. I likewise felt several slender ligatures across my body, from my fucking armpits to my thighs. I could only look upwards; the sun began to grow hot, and the fucking light offended my eyes.

Boswell's Life of Johnson (Shawn)

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it,—‘I refute it thus.'"

Boswell's Life of Johnson (Remnick)

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the fucking universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large fucking stone, till he rebounded from it,—‘I fucking refute it thus.'"

William Wordsworth (Shawn)

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar.
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come . . .

William Wordsworth (Remnick)

Our fucking birth is a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar.
Not in fucking forgetfulness,
And not in fucking nakedness,
But trailing clouds of excrement we come . . .

Jane Austen (Shawn):

"Indeed, you are mistaken. I have no such injuries to resent. It is not of peculiar, but of general evils, which I am now complaining, Our importance, our respectability in the world, must be affected by the wild volatility, the assurance and disdain of all restraint which mark Lydia's character. Excuse me—for I must speak plainly. If you, my dear father, will not take the trouble of checking her exuberant spirits, and of teaching her that her present pursuits are not to be the business of her life, she will soon be beyond the reach of amendment. Her character will be fixed, and she will, at sixteen, be the most determined flirt that ever made herself and her family ridiculous."

Jane Austen (Remnick)

"Indeed, you are fucked up. I have no such injuries to resent. It is not of peculiar, but of general evils, which I am now complaining, Our importance, our fucking respectability in the world, must be affected by the fucking volatility, the assurance and disdain of all fucking restraint which mark Lydia's character. Excuse me—for I must speak plainly. If you, my dear father, will not take the trouble of checking her exuberant spirits, and of teaching her that her fucking pursuits are not to be the business of her life, she will soon be beyond the reach of amendment. Her character will be fixed, and she will, at sixteen, be the most determined fucking flirt that ever made herself and her family ridiculous."

 

Robert Browning (Shawn)

That's my last duchess on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now, Fra Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will ‘t please you sit and look at her? I said
"Fra Pandolf" by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance
But to myself they turned . . . .

Robert Browning (Remnick)

That's my last duchess on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a fucking wonder. Fra Pandolf's hands
Worked one fucking day, and there she stands.
Will ‘t please you sit and look at her? I said
"Fra Pandolf" by design, for never read
Strangers like you that fucking countenance
But to myself they turned . . . .

T.S. Eliot (Shawn)

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster shells. . . .

T.S. Eliot (Remnick)

Let us go then, you and I,
When the fucking evening is spread against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us through certain fucking streets,
The muttering retreats
Of nights in fucking one-night cheap hotels
And restaurants with fucking oyster shells. . . .

 

I can only compare it to opening your cupboard to grab a cookie, but instead of a cookie you get dick-slapped. I wanted to write back "Why?" I wanted to write back "What the fuck?" I wanted to write back, "Like I'd even notice if you just unfriended me, or even if you died, you crazy fucking hag." But I couldn't. . . . I forwarded the message to him with the heading "What the fuck is this shit?"

--L. Dunham, "First Love," The New Yorker, Aug 13 & 20, 2012

To get dick-slapped by more fucking examples of New Yorker shit, click on

http://www.newyorker.com