Monday, 4 February 2008


A gentlewoman of the same city saw a fat hog cut up; when the entrails were opened, and a noisome savour offended her nose, she much misliked, and would not longer abide; a physician in presence told her, as that hog, so was she, full of filthy excrements, and aggravated the matter by some other loathsome instances, insomuch this nice gentlewoman apprehended it so deeply that she fell forthwith avomiting, was so mightily distempered in mind and body, that with all his arts and persuasions, for some months after, he could not restore her to herself again; she could not forget it, or remove the object out of her sight. [Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, Pt. 1, Sec. 2, Mem. 4, Subs. 3]

What are the routes through this manner of melancholy? To deny that there is any fundamental similarity between oneself and the pig ('...for I have a soul' and so on); to simply forget, distract oneself, put it out of one's mind; to drive through the middle and address one's own disgust ('...and what, exactly, is so disgusting about viscera? They are functional, after all: my disgust is irrational') Or the contrary; to insist upon the instrumental parallels between pig and person: the viscera revolt my eyes, but how nice they taste when properly prepared. See viscera, think sausages. As with the beast, so with me, I must devour myself to avoid disgust.

No comments: