Nov 10, 2006

"Necessary and Sufficient"

"If something is faintly not nice, humans retreat into a fog of euphemism that merely hints at meaning, as if the words themselves were at fault. Consider the privy, which in the eighteenth century was called the necessary house or, more simply, the necessary. This little structure—of brick or wood, painted or unpainted, of vernacular or high-style design—was also known as a bog, boghouse, boggard, or bog-shop; a temple, a convenience, or temple of convenience; a little house, house of office, or close stool; a privy or a garde-robe, terms that descend from the Middle Ages. Or a jakes, a sixteenth-century term. Williamsburg’s St. George Tucker once defined a jakes as a garden temple." Read on.