Everyone defecates and we can’t get around the stink. It’s a source of puzzlement and consternation for many. Like stark reality confronting the imagery of the divine. Simply, some can’t make do out of do. We are tenuously, but intricately bound by nature and cannot flee from it, as perhaps angels and other celestial figures appear to have converted denial and negation into reality. So we are stuck. Fair of foul, we discharge like an animal, but reason like an angel, at least for the most part.
In Jonathan Swift’s time the streets of Dublin and London were essentially the equivalent of a cesspool. A giant public toilet with human detritus and excrement of all varieties oozing from ditches and gutters and piled up at door and stairs everywhere. It is no wonder that Swift was fixated with faecal matters as was much of the elite, and his anxiety with bodily functions led to a certain articulation on the subject that exposed repressed unconscious anxieties. At the beginning of Gulliver’s Travels we are addressed as “gentle readers” , which implies, by extension, that we also have a “grovelling and vulgar” side to our nature as well, a kind of clinging to the Yahoo in us.
…Both shit and skulls have an insistent presence, and imply the mortification of the flesh the worthlessness of the body. If a body produces valueless shit, it has no inner value. Thus Swift couldn’t reconcile the fact that his mistress defecated with the beauty of her body. ( Donald Kuspit )…
Early in Travels, Gulliver exhibited no shame about bodily functions, even after being reprimanded for urinating in public; yet at the same time he also took precautions to hide himself, sheltering, so that he would not be in public view, ” discharging the necessity of nature.” So, defecating, in the Enlightenment was seen as a complicated practice of both cultural and bodily implications and excrement was an ambiguous material. Much like sex and feeding ourselves, defecatory functions and practices occupy a space at the boundary, the frontier, between necessity and cultural practice. On one sense, extremely democratic; Warholian like anyone can afford a brillo pad or coke. Yet, age, gender, status, distinction provide several among many differentiating factors. It all means that bodily discharge is far removed from being an unambiguous act, the culmination of a process, but instead charged with meanings and subject to discrimination- Veblen’s hierarchy and invidious comparison- across social and cultural categories. But, despite all the psych/social manipulation of excrement, the so-called rules, regulations and hidden codes that any encultured subject finally embodies, it is ultimately a necessity of biology.
In literature, treatments of shit typically have a humorous or satirical basis. Perhaps the best fictional representation of the opposing desires of the child to withhold and expel her feces is found in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, “which . . . contrasts Gulliver’s hyper-rational repression of the faecal with the Yahoo’s use of faeces as a weapon” …
…It makes sense, then, that one reason why we recoil from public discourse about shit is because it reminds us of this potential for failure and consequent shame. Literally, shit has the potential to infantili
s, and the private nature of shitting becomes of paramount importance. Swift had it right in his poem, “The Lady’s Dressing Room,” where an ardent lover explains his melancholy after gaining access to his mistress’s bedroom and discovering her “foul Disgrace,” explaining to his friend, And yet, I dare confide in you:…
So, take my Secret, and adieu.
No wonder how I lost my wits;
Oh! Celia, Celia, Celia shits. Read More:http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/11/11
…After all this, Gulliver is nonetheless glad when he has the opportunity to do the emperor a favor. When he’s awakened by a crowd at his door telling him the royal apartment is on fire, he rushes over, and urinates into the royal chambers. Within three minutes Gulliver saves the palace. The empress, however, refuses to set foot in her apartment and vows revenge against Gulliver. The empress here represents Queen Anne, who reacted against Swift’s earlier A Tale of a Tub in much the way the empress reacted to Gulliver’s urinating in her home. Queen Anne blocked Swift’s advancement in the Church of England.
… The Lilliputians evidently had confidence in Gulliver’s resourcefulness because they rushed to seek his help. Had Gulliver done something on a Lilliputian scale the palace would have burned to the ground. Gulliver was really stuck. Had he failed to douse the fire, the queen would also have sworn revenge. Gulliver’s solution was far from genteel, but so is a raging fire. Gross problems often require gross measures. Finally it all depends on your definition of “gross.”
…Gulliver is often sent to the maids at court, who play with him as though he were a doll. Their antics, however, are decidedly lascivious. They strip Gulliver, examine him all over; they undress in his presence; they even urinate in front of him. One of the maids picks Gulliver up and places him so that he’s sitting astride her nipple. At this, Gulliver finally protests, and is spared further visits with her. He’s sick of the maids using him “without any manner of ceremony, like a creature who had no sort of consequence.”…
…The chapter ends with Gulliver again being punished for his pride. While out walking he sees a pile of cow dung. He tries to leap over it, a foolish attempt, you’re probably saying to yourself. And right you are, for Gulliver lands in the middle of it, or as he says in his newfound shameful modesty, he is “filthily bemired.” Read More:http://reviewmaterials.tripod.com/english/gullivers_travels.html
Lacan: The origin of this necessity for the subsistence of the cause lies in the fact that in its primary form, it is cause of desire, namely of something essentially not effected. It is indeed for this reason that consistently with this conception, we can absolutely not confuse anal desire with what mothers, as much as the partisans of catharsis, might call in this case, the effect: has it had an effect? Excrement does not play the role of effect of what we are situating as anal desire, it is the cause of it. In truth, if we are going to dwell on this singular object, it is as much because of the importance of its function, always reiterated for our attention, and especially – as you know – in the analysis of the obsessional, as for the fact that it illustrates for us, once more, how appropriate it is to conceive that there subsist, for us, different modes of the object o. Read More:http://www.valas.fr/IMG/pdf/THE-SEMINAR-OF-JACQUES-LACAN-X_l_angoisse.pdf
…Besides it is not untimely to recall in this connection what a certain progress of interhuman relationships, of human relations, which is so much in vogue since the last war, was able to do during the aforesaid last war in terms of the reduction of entire human masses to the function of excrement. The transformation of numerous individuals of a people, chosen precisely because they were a people chosen among others, by means of the crematory furnace, to the state of something which finally, it appears, was distributed in Mittel europa as soap, is also something which
shows us that in the economic circuit the perspective of man as being reducible to excrement is not absent. ( ibid. )