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Powdering My Nose


In this refined, civilised society, we do our very best to pretend we have no bodily functions. Ladies do not sweat, we perspire. We only use the facilities to powder our noses. People pass away to a better world. Only animals copulate; we make love and storks bring us babies. God forbid anyone should point out some funny smell accompanied by the characteristic noise.

In short, we do not fart, burp, pee nor poo. That’s for the lowly beasts; we live on inspirational conversations, interesting thoughts and transcending beauty alone. Such being the case, it is a wonder how we choose to socialise over meals. Surely eating should be a big taboo, along with the obvious accompanying embarrassments of all sorts: namely, mastication, digestion, eructation caused by indigestion, flatulence, and elimination.

Eating is fraught with such menace that I wonder we insist on having meals together on social occasions at all. Especially on dates. How could we eat and drink daintily, without chewing, champing, biting, scuffing, gulping, and swallowing, without ever exposing our raw desire and animal nature? I’m sure even the most liberated of women would have at least one youthful memory of a disastrous dinner date where she could hardly taste what she was eating. We court danger thus, confident that we’ve come so far removed from our furry ancestors that social decorum would be maintained even in the face of such base desire as appetite.

Take clothing, then. You could see that the history of human race is one straight line of putting on more layers. Presumably, we started out with nothing but a conveniently shaped leaf; from there, we progressed to a single big cloth, finally to a set of undergarments, inner clothes, and outer clothes, up to the nineteenth century. The utmost refinement of our society showed in just how perfectly our bodies were covered by various pieces of clothing; which is understandable after all, if refinement means hiding sexual organs and body parts so that our beastly nature would not be excited.

Yet towards the end of the previous century, this phenomenon seems to have started to reverse. We started shedding off clothes, to the point where undergarments of yore are now worn as top layers. In fact, it is not surprising if we see top models walk down the catwalk entirely naked soon. What is happening here? Have we found the roots, are we going back to nature, finally having done with this nonsense of human society?

Not so. Close attention should be paid to the fact that while we are getting closer and closer to the naked state of our sturdy ancestors, we are also increasingly obsessed with shedding off our fur. I do not know about other countries, but at least in Japan, laser hair removal is not just for women. We may expose more of our bodies now, but those exposed bits are a far cry from the hairy beasts that we were. (I imagine the top models will have perfectly manicured pubic hair, as artificial as possible, when they do flaunt their nudity in public.)

So we are still playing that game, pretending that we have no beastly instincts while trying our refinement on risqué situations. What’s a taboo after all, but willingly imposed restrictions to spice up our insipid society?



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