FIFTY-TWO, OCTOBER 1, 2000
(Copyright © 2000 Al Aronowitz)
PART 5: A METAPHYSICAL AND ANECDOTAL CONSIDERATION OF THE FART
about flatulence also could be offered to those who listen to their personal
stereos while they work out at gyms and health clubs. The invention and
distribution of the personal stereo with earphones has created a unique problem
for farters. Those who have used this device know the earphones mask our
hearing. What seems to be a modest
singing along with the music often ends up being a loud nuisance for our
what this means, when listening to our personal stereo,
for the decision to pass a fart in the gym while jogging or using an
exercise bike. We must ask ourselves, even it we don’t hear its thunder,
whether or not our fart will be an intrusion on our neighbor using the next
treadmill or stair climber. After all, they might not be listening to their stereo full
blast and resent being interrupted by our sputterings.
anyone knows who has used a diabolical exercise machine, working out on them
does have a tendency to massage our lower tract and loosen what
these difficulties, a friend of mine who works out regularly at the gym has
developed a simple procedure that avoids much embarrassment.
he notices the pressure building, he removes one of his earphones in a discreet
manner and does what he calls a “test release.” If he hears nothing behind him, the earphone goes back on,
the volume is cranked up, the jogging continues and he lets them rip. And rip
they will, as we have through the pages of this little tract.
Now that I am approaching the end of my essay, I regret that a few
questions still remain unanswered. The attentive reader realizes I only
considered the question of farts among mammals.
Other questions could now be entertained. For example, do plants fart,
and what about birds or fish, do they also fart?
we apply St. Thomas Aquinas’ three-part analogy to the issue of farts among
plants, animals and mankind, we can come to a startling conclusion. Aquinas
argued plants have their mouths, that is to say their roots, in the earth.
This is how they suck up nourishment.
At the other end, the leaves of a plant, their anus, are waving in the
wind. This is how they dispose of
by-products of photosynthesis are oxygen and water. The expulsion of oxygen by the leaves of a plant could be
considered a plant fart, for it is gas escaping into the atmosphere.
There are no muscles to control this expulsion, however, and for this
reason the emission of gas is gradual. I
know of no plant that expels gas in such a manner as to wake the sleeping with
an explosive roar, as human farts are known to do.
good saint also noted that mammals and fish have their mouths and anus on the
same leave, that is, one could draw a horizontal line from mouth to anus. It is
only in human beings that the mouth is above the anus.
This is a complete reversal of the plant’s mouth-anus relationship.
Such a reversal points to a hierarchy in creation that demonstrates the
significance of language in human beings and their naturally authority and
superiority over plants and animals.
fish fart---if they do?
How birds fart is a question
doomed to remain up in the air
to the question of fish farts, I have to admit there is not enough
far our conclusion must be that only land animals fart. The human fart unites us with a select species of animals.
Add to that union the cultural and social creations surrounding the fart
in human societies, and it is evident mankind is separated even farther from the
animal and plant kingdoms. The
human fart remains a unique phenomenon worthy of many an essay.
ancient Greeks knew all too well the truth about farts.
Once again, the old wisdom reminds us how little we have changed over the
centuries. The ancients knew the terrible implications of a philosophy that
denies our human nature. They also
knew how to take learning lightly and poke fun at a wisdom that pretends to be
serious. Aristophanes does this well in The Clouds.
There he chides both students and teachers. He does so by employing the
simple fart. One of Socrates’ students, so impressed with his master's
knowledge, a knowledge that includes insight on how a gnat hums, inadvertently
displays the triviality of much science when he argues, “The entrails of the
gnat is small: and through this narrow pipe the wind rushes
is likewise the butt of a joke when he discusses the origins of thunder.
Aristophanes has him say, “Shalt thou then a sound so loud and profound
from thy belly diminutive send, and shall not the high and infinite Sky go
thundering on without end? For both, you will find, on an impulse of wind and similar
causes depend.” Happy those who
know themselves. The fart spoke about human truths for the ancient Greeks.
Their example motivates me to consider dashing off a short correction to
an otherwise sound advice column read by many in our local newspaper.
But now I have second thoughts. If I send this essay as a letter, will
the editor think I am too windy, or will my humble efforts be heard above the
din and clamor of the belching crowd?
too long, farts and farters have been discriminated against.
Maybe my verse will help blow away some of that prejudice.
I would like to break new wind on the subject, so to speak.
If I can't add sweetness, maybe I can add another aroma.
And if neither, I can at least offer my humble couplets, couplets
be better appreciated the
next time we consider the consequences of a plate of sauerkraut, beans, or for
some, even cantaloupe and cucumbers.
my own experience, I know one of the best ways to end discrimination against
farters is to bring up our children with an appreciation and knowledge of farts.
To this end, Kane/Miller Book Publishers deserves much credit. They now publish
a children’s book called, The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts.
This charmingly illustrated book by Shinta Cho was first published in
Japan under the title Onara(A Story of Farts). The English version is
translated by Amanda Mayer Stinchecum and is printed in Singapore by Tien Wah
Press Pte. Ltd.
colorful book begins with the fact, “When an elephant farts, the farts are
really big. Baaroomm.”
Then the author goes on to say, “People fart too.”
The illustration shows a boy standing in a bath followed by, “Bubbles
rise. . .plip, plip, plip.” This
is an utterly delightful story even adults will enjoy.
The more people that read and share this little book, the fewer people
there will be to discriminate against those of us
who are free with the gas we pass.
all is said and done, the fart and its aftermath seems to have a hold on our
memory. What author would not like
to share in this hold and have his work remembered through the ages?
Perhaps the fart offers all story tellers such an opportunity.
A fellow writer, Pete Cholewinski, reminded me how long our memories are
when it comes to farts. It is
fitting, in the end, that we recall one of the stories from the Tales from
the Thousand and One Nights, aptly called, The Historic Fart.
In this story a rich merchant decides to marry.
At the marriage feast, he has a great deal to eat and drink. When he was
summoned to the bridal chamber, he rose to his feet and “let go a long and
resounding fart.” People
pretended nothing happened, but he was so embarrassed he left town and lived in
India for ten years.
day, homesick for his friends, he decided to disguise himself and
daughter," replied the women solemnly, “you were born on the very night
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