JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 998
In the days before the well-rubbed catch-phrase "social media" was thunk, and in the days long passed the era of twice-daily postal delivery and four daily editions of newspapers, a man named Henry M. Robinson--writing as "Tish Hugh"-- wrote a small book proposing toilet paper publishing/social interface.
Passing Fancies, published in 1932, extols the virtues of spending "alone time" with a passive interactive medium. He rues the days that mail order catalogues were replaced by toilet tissue as a medium of cleanliness conveyance, saying something to the effect that a great deal was lost replacing the pages of goods-for-sale with plain whitish tissues.
And so to the rescue of the lonesome and bored goes Mr. Robinson, who suggests that toilet tissue be sold imprinted with newspapers, novels, biographies, historical fiction, and so on. They would be vertical issues of your favorite reading material, including magazines, everything included--except food advertisements. Mr. Robinson notes that olfactory memories of reading food advertisements while "actively engaged" could lead to "disastrous" associations with the advertised product.
Also suggested in the slim and stubby book's 32 pages: multiple-rolled bathrooms, with tissue rolls for individual family members according to their interests.
It is a somewhat interesting proposal, and evidently may very well be among the earliest to suggest a deeper commodification of toilet paper as a delivery system for the written word. The aspect for earlyness for this idea seems a little shaky, as toilet paper as a mass-produced (and available) item was already at least fifty years old by 1934, but sometimes it takes a long time for something that looks obvious to take effect. Perhaps it took so long in this case because it wasn't a particularly good idea.
I am positive that Mr. Robinson paid no attention to the critics or reviewers of his work. If so he could always have paraphrased the stout assessment and response made by the musician Max Reger to one of his (harsher) critics: 'I am sitting in the smallest room in my house,'' he wrote, . ''I have your review in front of me. Soon it will be behind me.''
(Earlier in this blog I wrote a post on the most important innovation in the history of the prolongation of human life--the flush toilet.)