Monday, April 02, 2007


Rectal Music

I have not read Greer Ramsey, "A breath of fresh air: rectal music in Gaelic Ireland," Archaeology Ireland 16.1 (Spring 2002) 22-23, but apparently the article discusses the braigeteóir, or professional farter. The title is intriguing and reminded me of the following passages which mention rectal music.

Greek Anthology 11.395 (Nicarchus, tr. W.R. Paton):
A fart which cannot find an outlet kills many a man; a fart also saves, sending forth its lisping music. Therefore if a fart saves, and on the other hand kills, a fart has the same power as kings.

Πορδὴ ἀποκτέννει πολλοὺς ἀδιέξοδος οὖσα·
  πορδὴ καὶ σώζει τραυλὸν ἱεῖσα µέλος.
οὐκοῦν εἰ σώζει, καὶ ἀποκτέννει πάλι πορδή,
  τοῖς βασιλεῦσιν ἴσην πορδὴ ἔχει δύναµιν.
St. Augustine, City of God 14.24 (tr. Marcus Dodds):
Some have such command of their bowels, that they can break wind continuously at pleasure, so as to produce the effect of singing.

nonnulli ab imo sine pudore ullo ita numerosos pro arbitrio sonitus edunt, ut ex illa etiam parte cantare videantur.
Dante, Inferno 21.136-139 (tr. John D. Sinclair):
They wheeled round by the dike on the left; but first each pressed his tongue between his teeth at their leader for a signal and he made a trumpet of his rear.

Per l'argine sinistro volta dienno;
ma prima avea ciascun la lingua stretta
coi denti, verso lor duca, per cenno;
ed elli avea del cul fatto trombetta.
Piers Plowman W5.349-353 (tr. Henry W. Wells):
His guts began to grumble like greedy porkers.
He had pissed a pot in a pater noster minute,
He blew the bugle at his ridge bone's bottom,
So that all who heard that horn held their nose after,
And wished it had been wiped with a wisp of rushes.

Hise guttes bigonne to goþelen · as two gredy sowes
He pissed a potel · in a pater noster while
And blew his rounde ruwet · at his ruggebones ende
That alle þat herde þat horn · helde hir noses after
And wisshed it hadde ben wexed · wiþ a wispe of firses
I have not seen the anonymous pamphlet Arse Musica; or, The Lady's Back Report to Don Fart-in-hand-o Puff-in dorst (1722), which is apparently a reply to The benefit of farting explain'd: or, the fundament-all cause of the distempers incident to the fair-sex, enquired into. Proving à posteriori most of the dis-ordures in-tail'd upon them, are owning to flatulencies not seasonably vented. Written in Spanish by Don Fartinando Puff-indorst, professor of bombast in the University of Crackow. And translated into English at the request, and for the use, of the Lady Damp-fart of Her-fart-shire. By Obadiah Fizzle, Groom of the Stool to the Princess of Arsimini in Sardinia. Long-Fart: (Longford in Ireland), printed by Simon Bumbubbard, at the sign of the Wind-Mill opposite Twattling-Street, 1722.

In modern times, Joseph Pujol (whose stage name was Le Pétomane) could generate rectal music at will.

Detail from Hieronymus Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights

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