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Irony Alert!: This blog may be a tad contrary.

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July 13, 2005

Comments

Bathsheba

But we never discussed OUR bowel motions.

elsewhere

Yes, but listened to contemporary discussing hers...

Coy Lurker

Ah Bathsheba and El, perhaps you need to draw a longer (Foucauldean) bow here. One might argue that just as the 1950s invented the nuclear family as a transhistorical, eternal "norm" in the 1950s, so too was the veil of silence drawn by this new century of hygiene and private family bathrooms over all diverting talk of bowels. Until then, wasn't it universally acknowledged that most physical and mental illnesses would be greatly improved by a good dump? (See Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, or any Victorian health manual). Perhaps what we are seeing is, in fact, a "return" to the free and easy bowel discourses of the past - though I must point out, having a mother whose notions of medicine were distinctly "humoural", such talk was never out of fashion in my family... Enjoy!

elsewhere

You don't really say what happened between the C19th and the 1950s. And wasn't the Anatomy of Melancholy an C18th tome?

Coy Lurker

Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy was a C17th tome: it recommends regular bowel movements as a cure for depression. Lots of faecal pleasure to be had in the centuries beforehand: as I recall Rabelais (C15th?) suggests that the best thing to wipe yourself on post-motion is the neck of a baby goose! Coy's belief is that people were pretty much always healthily bowel-obsessed, even into the early C20th (Coy's partner helpfully suggests that Kellogg's Cornflakes were an early precursor of Metamucill). Coy maintains that bowel discussions dwindled, reaching a nadir around the hygienic 50s as people locked themselves in their shiny white bathrooms behind their shiny white picket fences. The rise of colonic irrigation in the 90s perhaps signals our return from this brief dark age of discursive constipation...

elsewhere

Hmmm...older members of my family born in the first part of the century and earlier certainly talked about bowel-goings-on and the value of prunes and so forth, definitely more so than sex...but it was perfunctory talk. I don't remember it being an obsessive topic of conversation...

Bathsheba

Dearest CL, only you could find talk of bowels 'diverting'. I don't think I ever want 'free and easy bowel discourses'.

and if we ever replenish our poultry stocks you will not be allowed to house-sit unless you are strictly supervised.

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