Bum notes

Like many others – I guess – I have rather over-indulged over Christmas and New Year. I find myself with a nicely padded bottom as a result. But hopefully this won’t last, as I won’t be spending too much time sat in front of a computer in the coming months. Indeed, my 2014 resolution is to write more effectively. I want to apply to my academic writing what I have learnt in the process of blogging. I find composing short pieces in a defined period of time extremely stimulating and I am sure there must be ways to apply this to composing articles and book chapters. In many ways, I have already started doing so in the last few months, especially when I had to give papers.

I do have a plan B, however. If I end up sat on my backside for hours on end, I will take consolation in the words of the Great Master himself. Aristotle, in his Parts of Animals explains the adipose human bottom in the following way:

The beautiful buttocks of the Borgheses Hermaphroditus. Paris, le Louvre.

The beautiful buttocks of the Borgheses Hermaphroditus. Paris, le Louvre.

But man cannot easily remain upright continually; the body needs to rest and to be seated. For that reason, man has buttocks and fleshy legs, and for the same reason he does not have a tail. For the nourishment, on its way to the place of the tail, gets used up for the benefit of the buttocks and legs. In addition, the possession of buttocks takes away the necessity for a tail. [Aristotle, Parts of Animals 689b].

In Aristotle’s great scheme of things, man is able to stand upright because he is the most perfect animal – all animals are inferior to him and have for purpose to serve him. (I say ‘him’ because, let’s face it, Aristotle does centre his philosophy around man rather than around humans.) Buttocks and fleshy legs give balance to man’s standing body and provide him with a nice cushion when resting. Meanwhile, so much nourishment gets consumed in this process that not enough remains to grow a tail. Doesn’t it all make sense?

Now that does make me wonder how those clever Aristotelians in the Middle Ages explained why the devil has a tail, and a forked one at that!

Happy New Year Everyone!

This entry was posted in Food history, History of the body and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bum notes

  1. garethhevans says:

    A timely post. I’ve partly seen blogging as a writing exercise. More to the point, I’ve have been using a posture stool for the last few years whose upholstery had ‘deflated’, I developed a condition, previously unknown condition to me, that was like having a sore tail. I will in future trust to my god-giving parts of my anatomy and use a conventional seat. Best wishes for the new year.


  2. Pingback: Giant’s Shoulders #67 | Early Modern Medicine

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