The Three Rs

It was while listening to a children’s record by Jack Johnson that I realized that the Three Rs are no longer “reading, writing, and arithmetic,” but “reduce, reuse, and recycle.”  Maybe not a great deal is lost here in comparison to what is gained.  The environment is one of the few things I take more seriously than grammar, and anyhow I always hated the hokey irony of the original phrase.

The same point is made — only better and with more layers — by JC in the TLS on 28 March, who writes:

In the idle moment between setting down On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt, published by Princeton University press, and picking up Mindfucking by Colin McGinn, published by Acumen, we wondered when the new discourse would spread to mainstream publishers such as Penguin.  We didn’t have to wait long:  customers who bought On Bullshit and Mindfucking will also want to buy A$$hole by Martin Lihn (Penguin).  A$$hole, which carries the subtitle “How I got rich and happy by not giving a s*** about you,” offers “an effective program of Assholism: Ten Steps toward your awakening as a prick” [etc.]

If you find yourself beset by fears that everything is getting worse, take heart.  We have observed that when one form of socially approved behaviour disintegrates another is automatically established to take its place.  So you may feel better about A$$hole on learning that, while it is repellent according to the old standard, it is virtuous when judged by the new.  A$$hole is printed on “mixed sources” paper, produced in “well managed forests and other controlled sources.  Penguin Books is committed to a sustainable future for our business, our readers, and our planet.  The book in your hands” — A$$hole: How I got rich and happy by not giving a s*** about you — “is made from paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.”


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