Monday, December 28, 2015


We were talking of farts, Thassalius, Quintalian and I, since it was not possible to do the reverse, and anyway, it is our custom to deliberate upon important matters before puffing contentedly on our evening pipes.

"I maintain," said Quintalian, "that farting is a way of marking territory by humans, just as animals mark their territory by means of odour. Observe, for instance, the dog, thoughtfully leaving his or her essence upon a tree, so that other dogs may KNOW they hath been there. Consider, too, the ways of the bee; who, in swarming season, is guided by the scents of the scouts who have gone before her, and thereby establishes a safe new hive for her sisters and brothers. So, too, we may draw an analogy with the human animal, whereby they, in their natural environment - such as the desk at their office, for instance, or the elevator they are sharing with their boss - mark their territory, perhaps unconsciously, by releasing a smell, a natural pheromone, into the environment, that will prove attractive to their family, and repellent to their enemies."

"A judicious observation, Quintalian", said I. "It is certainly true that my own farts frequently smell pleasant, whereas those of my enemies - who are many - or those who do not know me - who are sadly more numerous still - are abhorrent to my organs of olfactory apprehension. And yet, I find that the universal social contract is to deplore the practice of flatulence, wherever it may occur. What sayest thou, Thassalius?"

"It is certainly not a practice that I find to be impolite", murmured Thassalius. "For, wherein do true manners lie? In not giving offence to our neighbour, our friend, by giving false witness unto them - or, in being generous to them in their needs, and courteous to them in their wishes. But I find the practice of farting plays no part in this; for what one man finds disturbing, the other finds no trouble with; and what is of so little consequence can give no real offence. 'Tis but a bubble, Sir!"

"It would indeed prove to be a fit subject for an ESSAY, PAPER, or DISQUISITION, Thassalius," I said.

"Perhaps we may look forward to it further in your own productions, Palpatius", put in Quintalian. "I, for one, find it easier to avoid giving even the appearance of offence to my fellow humans; I wait until I am out of their company before letting NATURE take the air."

(It struck me hereabouts, of course, that whereas humans may make a great show of taking offence, other animals, more sensitive to the aromas around them, may already be well aware of the digestive productions of HOMO SAPIENS. Would not, say, bees regard the gaseous emissions of humans in a benevolent light, as one of the many fragrances of NATURE, just as humans regarded their own hive smell as an example of the universal goodness? If I had had more time to frame these thoughts into words I may well have said them to Quintalian, but here Thassalius came in with another striking thought.)

"Indeed," cried Thassalius, "I frequently regard the farts of others as a compliment. For what more simple way could there be to make expression of your comradely trust and the familial bond than to give way to an expression of wind in the company of others?"

"How true!" I enthused. "Thassalius, thou hast made a great discovery! And, paradoxically, does not one find even amongst the most frivolous of companions - school boys and the like - a desire to bond through their mutual flatulence, even by producing the odour that will be the most repugnant of sensation to one another? But who knows where this laudable desire for mutual betterment may lead them? Through their dedication to finding the most potent herbs, the most odiferous saps, the most productive of the plants and beans, that they may not - unbidden - make a Great Scientific Discovery?"

This being said, the three of us, done with our deliberating and asseverating and cogitating, drew out our pipes as one, and let the clouds wreathe up around us and ascend into the heavens above.


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