The End of Publishing? Not If You Tell It Like George Carlin

The late, great George Carlin had a way with words, no doubt. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your spin, he is best known for his famous “seven dirty words.” If you’re a follower of his, you know he possessed a fantastic ability to string together a group of words into thoughts. He used his rants not only to tell a story but to make a statement about our society as a whole. It wasn’t what he said but how he delivered the message that made him funny, poignant, and a staunch defender of the proper use of language.

According to George:

“Americans have trouble facing the truth. So they invent a kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it. . . . the language that takes the life out of life.”

“Sometime during my life, toilet paper became bathroom tissue. . . . Sneakers became running shoes. False teeth became dental appliances. Medicine became medication. Information became directory assistance. The dump became the landfill. Car crashes became automobile accidents. Partly cloudy became partly sunny. Motels became motor lodges. House trailers became mobile homes. Used cars became previously owned transportation. Room service became guest room dining. Constipation became occasional irregularity.”

In regards to technology, among other things:

“We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.”

“These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.”

Carlin was an accomplished writer as well. His “first real book,” Brain Droppings, was on the New York Times Best-Seller List as a hardcover edition for 18 straight weeks in 1997. The book had sold over 750,000 copies by 2001 and was published as an audio book in 2000, winning Carlin his third Grammy Award.

In 2008, Carlin was awarded, posthumously, the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for lifetime achievement for humor. Like Twain, he used language for social commentary, which  has had a far more powerful effect on his audiences because of expanded media options.

Carlin was a standup comic by trade, but he did not miss the chance to use publishing to get his word out. The future of publishing is considered dead by some, yet I contend it is just in another transition as was evident with his Grammy for his audio book version.

Consider now the following YouTube clip, “The Future of Publishing,” uploaded by PenguinGroupUSA. Since March 2010, this clip has had more than 788,619 hits and was originally prepared for a sales conference by the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books. The video was such a hit that it was shared externally, and when you view it, think of what George Carlin’s delivery might have been.

Check out this video, “The Future of Publishing.” You may have to watch it more than once.

Author: Tom Caska


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