Sunday, November 30, 2008


Primal Pleasures

Gretel C. Kovach, "Pastor's Advice for Better Marriage: More Sex," New York Times (Nov. 23, 2008):
GRAPEVINE, Tex. — And on the seventh day, there was no rest for married couples. A week after the Rev. Ed Young challenged husbands and wives among his flock of 20,000 to strengthen their unions through Seven Days of Sex, his advice was — keep it going.

Mr. Young, an author, a television host and the pastor of the evangelical Fellowship Church, issued his call for a week of "congregational copulation" among married couples on Nov. 16, while pacing in front of a large bed. Sometimes he reclined on the paisley coverlet while flipping through a Bible, emphasizing his point that it is time for the church to put God back in the bed.


"If you've said, 'I do,' do it," he said. As for single people, "I don't know, try eating chocolate cake," he said.
A new variation on "Let them eat cake," I suppose.

An alternative for the lovelorn might be to seek consolation and pleasure in another one of God's gifts to mankind. Former Canadian Broadcasting Corporation chairman Guy Fournier once gave a radio interview in which he spoke for over ten minutes about the joys of defecation. According to a story by Graeme Hamilton in the National Post, Fournier recalled a train trip in the early 1960s during which a friend named Michel argued that going number two was as pleasurable as making love.
"From that moment, I started paying closer attention — and I have to tell you, I quickly realized that Michel was entirely right," Mr. Fournier said.

"And the most extraordinary thing is that, in the end, as you grow older, you continue to go poop once a day if you are in good health, while it is not easy to make love every day. So finally, the pleasure is longer-lasting and more frequent than the other."

He also advised against distractions while on the toilet. "There are even people who push the heresy to the point of doing Sudoku or crosswords rather than concentrating on the pleasure that they would have doing the thing," Mr. Fournier told his radio interviewer. "It is just as heretical as if you read the National Post while making love. It is not to be recommended."
If two examples make a trend, this idea seems to have been floating around in the 1960s. W.H. Auden, in the opening stanzas of his poem The Geography of the House, written in July 1964 and dedicated to Christopher Isherwood, makes exactly the same point. Here is the entire hilarious poem:
Seated after breakfast
In this white-tiled cabin
Arabs call The House where
Everybody goes
Even melancholics
Raise a cheer to Mrs
Nature for the primal
Pleasures She bestows.

Sex is but a dream to
But a joy proposed un-
-til we start to shave:
Mouth-delight depends on
Virtue in the cook, but
This She guarantees from
Cradle unto grave.

Lifted off the potty,
Infants from their mothers
Hear their first impartial
Words of worldly praise:
Hence, to start the morning
With a satisfactory
Dump is a good omen
All our adult days.

Revelation came to
Luther in a privy
(Cross-words have been solved there):
Rodin was no fool
When he cast his Thinker,
Cogitating deeply,
Crouched in the position
Of a man at stool.

All the arts derive from
This ur-act of making,
Private to the artist:
Makers' lives are spent
Striving in their chosen
Medium to produce a
De-narcissus-ised en-
-during excrement.

Freud did not invent the
Constipated miser:
Banks have letter boxes
Built in their façade
Marked For Night Deposits,
Stocks are firm or liquid,
Currencies of nations
Either soft or hard.

Global Mother, keep our
Bowels of compassion
Open through our lifetime,
Purge our minds as well:
Grant us a kind ending,
Not a second childhood,
Petulant, weak-sphinctered,
In a cheap hotel.

Keep us in our station:
When we get pound-noteish,
When we seem about to
Take up Higher Thought,
Send us some deflating
Image like the pained ex-
-pression on a Major
Prophet taken short.

(Orthodoxy ought to
Bless our modern plumbing:
Swift and St Augustine
Lived in centuries
When a stench of sewage
Ever in the nostrils
Made a strong debating
Point for Manichees.)

Mind and Body run on
Different time-tables:
Not until our morning
Visit here can we
Leave the dead concerns of
Yesterday behind us,
Face with all our courage
What is now to be.
The end of the third stanza reminds me of the rhyming Latin expression "Cacatio matutina est tamquam medicina" ("A bowel movement in the morning is just like medicine").

Jim. K. drew my attention to Justin McCurry, "Boardroom bards - Japan's salarymen bare their souls in poetry", Guardian (May 14, 2007), a report on the Dai-ichi life insurance company's annual salaryman senryū (short satirical verse) contest. A recent second-prize-winning entry was, "The only warmth in my life is the toilet seat," not only a lament of the lovelorn but also a tribute to Japan's high-tech, well-heated toilets.

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