A G-rated version of this little article was published in The Spectator Australia – here. The original version, as submitted to The Spectator Australia, is below.
In a bookshop at Adelaide airport last Christmas I saw a well-dressed woman, seemingly in her mid-sixties, looking studiously at the front and back covers of a book entitled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: a counter-intuitive approach to living a good life. I was intrigued. What had piqued her interest in this book? She did not strike me as someone in need of self-help. Maybe she was thinking of buying it for a niece or nephew who was having a rough trot. Or maybe, I thought, she was turning over the same kind of conflicted thoughts that I have about books like this ‒ unimpressed by the profanity in the title whilst wondering why they bothered with the asterisk.
We all make mistakes. To quote the Augustan satirist Alexander Pope, “to err is humanistic”. But we also like to point out other people’s mistakes and in the written form we do this with ‘sic’, the term inserted into a sentence (in parentheses) to make it clear that the mistake is not ours. It is a word with Latin roots although its origins in the English language, as recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary, are mistaken. According to the OED the first known appearance of it was in an Anglo-Saxon Reader of 1887, but I have found an instance of it in the 1876 edition of the same book. The OED, therefore, needs to correct its “1887 (sic)” citation for ‘sic’.
At the time of writing, December 2020, the #newedition movement can be considered a true global phenomenon. As it sets about the work of re-writing world history in the manner it should always have been written, it represents the most significant mountain that our noble progressive movement has yet climbed. But the one thing that I hope is always remembered is that this movement owes its origins to a small group of people, including my son and myself, in Melbourne. Yes, it is a phenomenon we can proudly call Victorian. It all began in 2018 at the High School that my son attends.