Wednesday, 8 August 2007


"Two hundred years before the birth of Christ the Chinese of the Han Dynasty demanded that their courtiers address their emperors only when their breath had been sweetened with a mouthful of Javanese cloves ..." Why has nobody written a cultural history of that most most essential topic, bad breath?

For instance it'es interesting that breath in this context is defined in terms of otherness, not of oneself (nobody ever described asthma as bad breath: I wonder why not?). The mingling of spirit, hygeine and fit, inner and outer purity, all voice and intimacy all contained within this boundary. One day I'll do it, maybe.

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