January 17, 2009

"'Cloaca,' what you see in front of you, might be a shit machine..."

"...but actually it's about a whole range of other ethical and moral issues, from the food we eat to what we do with feces."

It's Wim Delvoye's "Cloaca No. 5," a "'machine/sculpture' that recreates the phases of human digestion, from chewing to defecation," on display at the Université du Québec à Montréal gallery. You can buy the freeze-dried fake shit in the gift shop. Is it a faux pas to make a gift of faux poo? Perhaps you'll want to keep it for yourself.

Now, I'm reading about this not because I have a Google alert on "cloaca," but because the nostalgically nicknamed Fred4Pres linked to it in the comments to that post about Maureen Dowd. He quipped:
I know lots of op-eds, like Maureen Dowd's column, that have been doing this for years.
I read, mildly amused, and then I'm stunned:
Mr. Delvoye, who will be in Montreal today for the opening, has been exhibiting various versions of Cloaca -- the name is Latin for sewer -- since 2000. His other work has included biker-style tattoos on live pigs and mosaics using tiles that carry images of his own feces.
Wim Delvoye — I'd forgotten the name, but he inspired the blog post that I've often said was my best: "Tattoos remind you of death."

How I love when things come full circle, and perhaps — it seems — so does Mr. Delvoye.

Now, here in the middle of the night, I'm reading the comments on that old post about mementos, and even as I delight at the names of some commenters who are still with us, I see some that I'm sad to have lost. Like Goesh, who says:
I was blessed to have been born and raised on a farm, and we used to finger-paint the pigs. We just assumed they would like it. What pig wouldn't want to look pretty, and we enjoyed it too. Kids are kids as they say. If you scratch a pig on the stomach, it will plop down on the ground. Let's face it, it is pretty darn hard for a pig to scratch its own belly if you think about it. They can rub against things to get their sides and back and butts scratched but not their bellies. Once the pig was lying down, one sibling would keep scratching his/her stomach while the rest of us made pretty pictures. When Porky and his pals would get sent off to market, we would always check to see if any of our art went with them. Often bits of it did and we always wondered what the butchers thought when our pigs came down the slaughter line. My younger brother once remarked that maybe they wouldn't kill them if they saw our paintings. This recollection yields a bit of a sad feeling, but hard reality sets in as I recall that Keith, my younger brother, relished bacon as much as the rest of us did.
We know the finger-painted pigs are long gone, but what of Goesh? He used to write poetry here too, under the moniker Lonely Donut Man/LDM.

But where are the snows of yesteryear?

Old blog posts remind you of death. Those pseudonymous commenters who are no longer with us — how can I know if they are, as they say, no longer with us? What if Goesh has scarfed his last doughnut and pooed his last poo?

I considered spelling "doughnut" his way, as a tribute to our lost poet. I looked up the old posts — here and here — where I talked about my spelling preference. The first one has some poetry by Robert Frost (and the speculation that he ate frosted doughnuts). The second one, in the comments, has a poem by Lonely Donut Man:
Verily thou could'st reference my lovely, lonely verse
its subtle allusions to the trans-fatty acids curse
O! Sugary, longing words of lust n'er terse
Lo!The collusion of flesh and grease, which be'th the worse?
I hope Lonely Donut Man still waddles on this earth. If only he'd return I'd feel such... mirth!

IN THE COMMENTS: Pogo said:
In the blog commenters come and go
talking of loaves and donut holes.
Ricpic said:
How jejune and utterly predictable of the avant-garde it is
To make a production of pinching a loaf and spraying a whiz.

29 comments:

blake said...

I remember Goesh! He has a private blog, Lonely Donut Man, which I am not privy to.

Ann Althouse said...

Yes, but unless we can break through the privacy wall, we can't know whether he's posted recently.

Eric Hammerbacher said...

If energy lags,
Or appetites sag,
When strength is fagged
Pep up with DOUGHNUTS.
--Good Housekeeping ad from the fifties I saw on the wall at a doughnut shop in Portland.

blake said...

I'm sure he'd let you in.

Right? You have one of those All Access passes, don't you?

Chip Ahoy said...

My 2¢ for what it's worth
because an impulse given birth
your word "waddles" skirted "girth"
A kindness that calls Goesh firth, I mean forth.

Ron said...

Christmas Trees, Althouse! Here I am at 6:30 AM, and you've been a'postin already! Yeah, well, it's been goddamn cold here too, and it's kept me up also. Hell, I even worked on my novel! No, really! Here you are mooncalfing over lost commenters when there's a gaggle (murder? wiki? passle?) of us living, breathing fools who could use some sweetness while we're here to enjoy it! Bah! Got no time for bloggers who've 'dropped' me by not bothering to blog anymore, so a thicker hide may be needed...

Paul Zrimsek said...

Where are the loaves of yesteryear? [/Titus]

traditionalguy said...

Professor, have thought about designing a course [Could be an online course] in the Blogging Arts? Call it "Blogging the Night Away-the New Social Activity for Debutants with Brains".You could write the Standard Work, come to think of it you may already have, and it would easily make the NYT Bestseller List in "Sometime Fiction- Sometimes Not"category.

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael H said...

Thanks for reminding my why I am unable to break the Althouse Blog habit. Some days it just grabs me and won't let go.

Now I crave donuts
No ifs ands or buts
In my head the voices
Scream "too many choices"

So into my cold car
I'll need to navigate far
To one of those sweet smelling places
Owned by people with Indian faces

There to acquire a bagful of course
Then whisk back home with belt notch remorse.

EDH said...

Back to cloaca. Wouldn't that exhibit be better suited for a science museum?

Transcendently, I think the "sausage machine" metaphor for the legislative process has just been replaced overnight.

"The cloaca caucus voted for cloture." Say that three times fast.

Pogo said...

In the blog commenters come and go
talking of loaves and donut holes.

ricpic said...

How jejune and utterly predictable of the avant-garde it is
To make a production of pinching a loaf and spraying a whiz.

Ann Althouse said...

traditionalguy said..."Professor, have thought about designing a course [Could be an online course] in the Blogging Arts? Call it "Blogging the Night Away-the New Social Activity for Debutants with Brains".You could write the Standard Work, come to think of it you may already have, and it would easily make the NYT Bestseller List in "Sometime Fiction- Sometimes Not"category."

In fact, I have thought of writing a book of this sort, but in the end, I decided against it for numerous reasons, including:

1. With blogging, I'd rather teach by example.

2. Contradicting #1, I recommend idiosyncratic blogging, so each blogger will have to discovery his/her own style.

3. It would take time away from blogging and be counterproductive.

4. I don't want to tell my secrets — even to myself. There is only the blogging in the present, for me.

5. At the request of one publication or another, I have, from time to time, stated my theories of blogging, and that distanced analysis of it bores me now. It seems so obvious to me.

6. The times I've explained these things to people in person, I could tell I was annoying them. It was not what they wanted to hear.

7. I'm not sufficiently attentive to how other people blog to do anything but talk about myself, and I much prefer to just be myself on the blog than to talk about how that's what I do (which I wouldn't be doing if I did).

Jake said...

Wondering why the digestive system is of so much interest to this guy. Someone potty trained at the wrong end of a twelve gauge?

TMink said...

Let us go then, you and I, when the letters are spread across the sky like a blue screen flashin an error code. Oh, do not ask what is it, let us go and make our visit.

I have read the posters typing each to each. I do not think they will type to me.

I should have been a ragged keyboard clicking over silent intertubes.

Selah.

Trey

Titusdiditlastnight said...

I must say that I am really proud that my "pinching loaves" has left such an indellible impression here. You have to admit "pinch a loaf" is a rather delightful phrase.

My small contribution to this site. No need for a bunch of thank yous.

Titusdiditlastnight said...

My mouth has the taste of refried beans. I did a mexican last night and I tossed his salad so I detect some beans in my tastebuds this morning.

How are you?

Do you guys know what the term "tossed a salad" means?

Titusdiditlastnight said...

I should probably have a tag on this post given all of the loaf quotes. Please fix this ASAP. Thanks doll.

Titusdiditlastnight said...

I haven't pinched my morning loaf yet but I sense it is going to smell like Brownsville, Texas.

Titusdiditlastnight said...

OHHH. I spoke too soon. My morning loaf is beginning the percolating process.

Titusdiditlastnight said...

False alarm loaf.

You have been there before.

You sit on the throne prepare to pinch and all that comes out are a few light airy farts. The farts don't even stink, and they just say PAAAA.

The loaf is just not ready.

Fred4Pres said...

There are a lot of blogs that have been doing this for years.

Not Ms. Althouse's blog of course!

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EDH said...

”It’s fun when you work at the fun factory!”

chickenlittle said...

OT but if anyone is ever in Rome with time on their hands, I recommend taking a stroll along the Tiber and look for the opening to Cloaca Maxima. It's fascinating, really.

knox said...

The other day I heard two expressions for "pinching a loaf" I'd not heard before: "taking the Browns to the Superbowl" and "putting it down on paper"

knox said...

On Althouse's 5th anniversary, I went back and tried to find my first comment. (the earliest I could find was June 2005, though I started reading in 2004) There were lots of commenters I'd forgotten about, who I miss: Lindsey, Pancho, Allah, Dirty Harry. And I was surprised how many regulars were commenting even back then: Meade, mcg, synova, ron, victoria, john stodder...

I'm sure there are more in both categories I am forgetting. Anyway, it gave me a nice sense of the history and continuity here.

Trochilus said...

For the sake of perspective, recall that long ago, one of the perks of being the President of Harvard University was that he had the night soil rights to the outhouses on campus . . . fertilizer, you know.