Nate Jordon's Reviews > When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?

When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? by George Carlin
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's review
Apr 11, 11

really liked it
Read in April, 2011

If cultural criticism and picking apart language with an eye for the absurd and brandishing a double-edged tongue is your thing, then you'll love this book. It's Carlin, what else can one say? His stage is now the page, and boy, does he deliver. Here's a an excerpt about business I particularly found entertaining:

"The Wall Street Journal reminds you that your job as a businessman is to fuck the other guy before he fucks you. Sometimes you have to do such a complete job of fucking the other guy that he stays fucked for a long time, even to the point of going out of business and losing everything he owns. Quite often, the difference between getting fucked and being the one who does the fucking can be one small piece of business information, such as they’re not making steam locomotives anymore, or the zeppelin travel market has begun to decline. Those two important business facts appeared recently in the Wall Street Journal. If you’re a reptilian lowlife on your way up, stop getting fucked and start doing the fucking. Read the Wall Street Journal."

And here's one about euphemisms:

"There are several reasons why we seem to employ so much euphemistic language: the need to avoid unpleasant realities; the need to make things sound more important than they really are; marketing demands; pretentiousness; boosting employee self-esteem; and, in some cases, just plain, old political correctness.
But no matter their purpose, the one thing euphemisms all have in common is that they soften the language. They portray reality as less vivid. And I’ve noticed Americans have a problem with reality; they prefer to avoid the truth and not look it in the eye. I think it’s one of the consequences of being fat and prosperous and too comfortable. So, naturally, as time has passed, and we’ve grown fatter and more prosperous, the problem has gotten worse. Here’s a good example:
There’s a condition in combat—most people know it by now. It occurs when a soldier’s nervous system has reached the breaking point. In World War I, it was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables. Shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. Shell shock!
That was 1917. A generation passed. Then, during the Second World War, the very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. It takes longer to say, stretches it out. The words don’t seem to hurt as much. And fatigue is a softer word than shock. Shell shock. Battle fatigue. The condition was being euphemized.
More time passed and we got to Korea, 1950. By that time, Madison Avenue had learned well how to manipulate the language, and the same condition became operational exhaustion. It had been stretched out to eight syllables. it took longer to say, so the impact was reduced, and the humanity was completely squeezed out of the term. It was now absolutely sterile: operational exhaustion. It sounded like something that might happen to your car.
And then, finally, we got to Vietnam. Given the dishonesty surrounding that war, I guess it’s not surprising that, at the time, the very same condition was renamed post-traumatic stress disorder. It was still eight syllables, but a hyphen had been added, and, at last, the pain had been completely buried under psycho-jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder.
I’d be willing to bet anything that if we’d still been calling shell shock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have received the attention they needed, at the time they needed it. But it didn’t happen, and I’m convinced one of the reasons was that softer language we now prefer: The New Language. The language that takes the life out of life."

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