Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Subject of F**t

A reader stumbled upon my recent posting of a news item on a man arrested by police for passing gas assault. This is what he typed in his Google search: Chinese culture, passing gas. I was intrigued; is there a culture surrounding that natural activity that humankind and animals alike partake or even revel in? How many times a day do we, to put it politely, break wind? Or throwing civility to the wind, fart?. A website has gone to great length to answer all manner of questions on fart. And these are some of the questions we may have but are afraid to ask:

  • Where does fart gas come from?
  • what is fart gas made of?
  • What makes farts stink?
  • Why do farts make noise?
  • Why are stinky farts generally warmer and quieter than regular farts?
  • Do men fart more than women?
  • Do men's farts smell worse than women's?
  • Is it harmful to hold in farts?
  • How can one cover up a fart?
  • Is it really possible to ignite farts?
Dear readers, if you are in desperate need to know the answers, click on the website above.

Sorry, I couldn't find any literature on the Chinese's view on fart, but there are plenty of write-ups in the western world where it seems, the subject is well researched and documented. There is one website called Monsterfart. Another, a farty person who calls his website Mr. Methane, a modern day Le Petomane, Fartist Extraordinaire. Born in 1857, this Frenchman made plenty of money from his bizarre ability to control his sphincter muscles. He was able to play the Marseillaise tune through his arse. This was not his only accomplishment though. He could also expel farts with such force as to extinguish lighted candles several metres away. He later went on to perform in Moulin Rouge where he even out-grossed the leading actress and actor.

Though not as often talked or written about as 'love', it is neverthelss the subject of a poem by Sir John Suckling:

Love is the fart
Of every heart;
It pains a man when 'tis kept close
And others doth offend when 'tis let loose.

In his book, "Who Cut the Cheese? - A Cultural History of the Fart" Jim Dawson took a humorous look at the influence of flatulence on religion, science, literature, music, television, television and films. Here are two excerpts:

Excerpt 1

Excerpt 2

The Arabs also were not adverse to writing about this noxious bodily function. The Arabian Nights recounts a story of an unfortunate bridegroom on the night of his wedding:

A writer has even suggested, tongue-in-cheek that what is needed in the world is A Natural History of the Fart:

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