Bogeys - or bodily betrayal

Author: joe

Thursday, 31 July, 2008 - 21:13

Featherstone and Hepworth note how a loss of bodily control can be associated with a loss of social acceptibility - they describe this as 'bodily betrayal'. On ageing, they say:

"Degrees of loss impair the capacity to be counted as a competent adult. Indeed the failure of bodily controls can point to a more general loss of self image; to be ascribed the status of a competent adult person depends upon the capacity to control urine and faeces."
 
[Featherstone & Hepworth, 'The mask of ageing and the postmodern lifecourse' in Featherstone, Hepworth & Turner, 1991. The Body: social processes and cultural theory, London: Sage, cited in Nettleton & Watson (eds.), 1998. 'An Introduction' in The Body in Everyday Life, London: Routledge, p1-20 (and by the way, isn't that gobful a nice exemplar of the constructedness of knowledge?)]
I wonder if their analysis extends to what Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctors tend to call 'muck'? Last year as my sinusitis entered its, oh, 3rd or 4th month, my doctor asked if my mucus was discoloured. I said I wasn't sure. Is a green bogey normal or discoloured? Here's something worth meditating on: your snot.

Do you notice when your snot is clear? Before my doctor asked this question, I had never considered that snot was any colour than green. I mean, snot is normally green isn't it? Aren't bogeys green? Actually, snot is only green when you have some kind of infection (it is a sign of bacterial colonies growing in your nose. Nice). But the rest of the time (like if you have hay fever) your snot is clear. And because it is clear, you don't notice. And by 'you don't notice it' I mean 'I don't notice it'. The clear stuff that came out of my nose when I had a bit of hay fever or early stages of a cold, wasn't 'snot', or mucus. It was invisible, irrelevant. How had I managed to think of snot as only green? What did I think the clear stuff was? I don't even remember. I wasn't even in control of my body to start with.

So when my doctor asked if my 'mucus' was 'discoloured', I thought, 'What - other than green? You mean, terracotta? Puce? Fuscia? Magnolia? Purple? Shit-brown? Or just normal, everyday green?"

I think I'm going to lump this with the rest of my parents' failings, alongside neglecting to tell me about smegma and ejaculation. I don't need to tell you how freaked I was in the bath THAT day.

Categories: body, snot, mucus, betrayal, embodiment, health, self, identity, competence, urine, faeces,
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