Poop and You

Topics: Satire, Jonathan Swift, Scatology Pages: 12 (3673 words) Published: March 13, 2013
What many people do not realize is that scatology is more abundant than they think. It is in books, music, movies and almost every other medium of communication or entertainment. It has worked its way into our language, and the traditional words associated with scatology have even evolved to have new or multiple implications. Another important detail about scatology which more people need to understand is that it is not, in most cases, used for the sake of mere obscenity. Of course, there are individuals who will use it in this tasteless way, but for the most part, there is meaning behind the utilization of scatology.

It is important to mention that scatological references do get an audience to pay attention, but its use is often less superficial than that. Behind these references there are intentions to relay a message to the audience. After all, it is a subject that none of us, as humans, can avoid. It is one of the basic elements of our existence; part of our every day lives, and people must learn to take a neutral attitude toward its usage in a work, and realize that those who employ it in their work are not to be labeled "obscene," "dysfunctional" or any of the other labels which individuals place on a person or issue which they fear or are not mature enough to address.

"Scatology as such does not make a work 'bad' or 'good' in a thematic, moral, or rhetorical sense. The author's skill and thematic purposes in handling scatology determine whether a work is 'bad' or 'good.' Once we agree to adopt a neutral attitude toward scatology, we are able to examine its literary functions in a given work and divorce them from such extraneous considerations as the author's psychology or biography." (Lee 23)

If Mr. Lee's quote is not convincing enough, then consider his list of the great scatologists throughout history. Some of the most famous authors of all time are also some of the most renowned scatologists. Aristophanes of Greece, Lucilius of Rome, Catullus, Martial, Juvenal and Dante are all credited with being the major manipulators of scatology in their works. Another common bond between these six continental authors is the fact that they all used this scatology for satirical purposes. This leads us to the man who makes use of scatology more than any other major author in English Literature, Jonathan Swift (Lee 1).

All six of these authors were well known to Swift, as well as many other English authors, who read these writers as part of the mainstream of their cultural tradition and inheritance (Lee 7).

Although some of his works were non-satirical, Swift's main purpose in using scatology was for his satire; sometimes for the pure humor of it, but mainly to emphasize the satire or moral point he is making. Similar to the scatologists in the past and to those who include scatology in their work today, Swift was misunderstood. He came under constant fire and endured tremendous abuse from critics. He was labeled obscene and even insane. Of course, considering the time period, this could be expected. "The Eighteenth Century considered Swift's sense of cleanliness odd, if not outright pathological. In habit, in personal delicacy and views of hygiene, the Twentieth Century is far closer to him than his contemporaries were." (Jaffe 120). But to label Swift insane may be taking matters a little too far. In the past, critics and the like have spent enormous amounts of time analyzing and even psychoanalyzing Swift.

In "The Excremental Vision," Norman O. Brown goes into great detail about those who attempted to criticize and analyze Swift. According to Aldous Huxley, "Swift is the excremental vision...and his sexuality was structurally abnormal from the start." P. Greenacre further elaborates Huxley's point in stating:

"Swift lost his father before he was born; was kidnapped from his mother by his nurse at age one; was returned to his mother three years later, only to be abandoned by his mother one month after his...
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