The Psychology Of Pooping, Ctd


Readers keep the popular thread moving:

Do not forget Jonathan Swift, who wrote in Chapter VI of Gulliver's Travels: "Men are never so serious, thoughtful, and intent as when they are at stool."


From James Boswell's journal (Boswell in Holland): "Tuesday 11 October [1763].  From this day follow Mr. Locke's prescription of going to stool every day regularly after breakfast.  It will do your health good, and it is highly necessary to take care of your health." The reference to Locke is from Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Section 24 ("… if a man, after his first eating in the morning, would presently solicit nature, and try whether he could strain himself so as to obtain a stool, he might in time, by constant application, bring it to be habitual.").

That's why I have a picture of John Locke in my bathroom!

Weirdo. (Just kidding!) Another:

If you're quoting Auden's bowel movement poetry you really should have Updike's too! "The Beautiful Bowel Movement" by John Updike:

Though most of them aren’t much to write about—
mere squibs and nubs, like half-smoked pale cigars,
the tint and stink recalling Tuesday’s meal,
the texture loose and soon dissolved—this one,
struck off in solitude one afternoon
(that prairie stretch before the late light fails)
with no distinct sensation, sweet or pained,
of special inspiration or release,
was yet a masterpiece: a flawless coil,
unbroken, in the bowl, as if a potter
who worked in this most frail, least grateful clay
had set himself to shape a topaz vase.
O spiral perfection, not seashell nor
stardust, how can I keep you? With this poem.

Another calls me out:

There's something surreal about seeing you say that we should talk more seriously about pooping shortly after you ridiculed Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek for doing just that. Zizek is ridiculous for many reasons, but the fact that he pointed out a truth of today's society – that we don't think about what happens to our shit once we've flushed the toilet – is not really one of them.

Ouch. But it's not the subject, it's the mountain of pretension he brings to the dunghill. Another:

As long as you are on the subject, I thought I would bring your attention to the classic "Captain Underpants" series by Dav Pilkey. Consider this passage from "Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People":

Most adults spend the first few years of a child's life cheerfully discussing pee and poopies and how important it is to learn to put your pee-pee and poo-poo in the potty like big people do. But once children have mastered the art of toilet training, they are immediately forbidden to ever talk about poop, pee, toilets, and other bathroom related subjects ever again.  Such things are suddenly considered rude and vulgar, and are no longer rewarded with praise and cookies and juice boxes. One day you are a superstar because you pooped in the toilet like a big boy, and the next day you are sitting in the principal's office because you used the word "poopy" in American history class (which if you ask me is the perfect place to say that word).

You are probably wondering, "Why would adults do that?  Why would they encourage something one day and discourage it the next?" The only answer I can think of is that adults are totally bonkers and should be avoided at all times.

(Photo of Rodin's statue by Brian Hillegas)