A Fart of Gold

In ye heat of ye talk it befel yt one did breake wind, yielding an exceding mightie and distresfull stink, whereat all did laugh full sore.
Mark Twain
1601, Conversation as It Was: by the Social Fireside in the Time of the Tudors
In ancient Japan, public contests were held to see who could fart the loudest and longest! And this popular Fart Battle scroll is believed to have its origin in the 1840s.

A not-so legend has it that there was once a gracious yet shy girl, who went out with her friends for an alfresco meal somewhere in northern Manipur. It was a foothill where nature has generously presented its magnificence that people living in the noise- and garbage-filled Imphal will be envious for decades, if not centuries. Well, the place was insignificant on that day as the girl passed, oops, gas.

It happened while they were chatting, real chatting, before the meal. So apparently it was the breakfast or particularly those breads the girl ate earlier in the day that were the culprit; and it was not even the worst kind of blowing wind—you know those types, which can cause commotion or loud condemnation. However, our girl was so self-conscious that she died of embarrassment.

This is not a fart joke. Indeed, it is a tragedy, a sort of fall from grace, if we consider the girl’s helplessness and that all because of a low and odourless gas, she ‘passed’ away. I suggest she should have been that kind of person who after farting stares at you suspiciously as if you have done it. That could have been, in spite of its malice, quite a life-saver.

In a way, a fart is a non-attention-seeking and bighearted fellow who likes sharing excessively. It is the smell that tags along him which spoils the party.

On dictionaries, such a grand word as ‘flatulence’ would mistaken to be some brilliant leadership qualities of our elected representatives. However, the term describes the process of a fart. Its definition is ‘the accumulation of gas in our alimentary canal’. It may not produce giggling whenever one hears the word because of its scientific overtone but ‘fart’ always does, regardless of the level of ‘science’ in it. It seems that fart has a great sense of Russell-Petersesque humour as much as it is funny and embarrassing at the same time.
The royal composition

Have you heard about The Historic Fart? It could be an all-sound-and-fury-signifying-nothing tale in 1,001 Arabian Nights for you and me albeit in the story, not all but some sound and fury signified a life-changing moment for Abu Hasan. He was a successful merchant who thrived in the town of Kaukaban in Yemen. After the demise of his first wife, and upon insistence, he agreed to re-marry a lady who was ‘as beautiful as the moon shining over the sea’.

However, on the wedding day, he had too much food and drinks that when he was called to the wedding chamber, where the bride was already present he blew a hard royal wind from his rear. He was so mortified that he fled all the way to the Malabar Coast in India. 

Scheherazade, on the other hand, knew that she cannot afford to tell a story so short or else would share the same fate as those of Shahryar’s first 1,000 wives.

So, out of homesickness, Abu Hasan returned to his native place ten years after the incident. There in his hometown, he found that his bong of the bum on a failed wedding evening had become a sort of fable and the date of the flatulent occasion a day that would be remembered forever. Unable to bear it, he went back to India, and this time, for good.

For that matter, literature as a loyal reflection of life is filled with fart. We can cite the aforementioned Mark Twain’s 1601. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, remember how Absalom almost died when Nicholas attacked him with a rear outburst in their feud over a girl. Well, a fart is indecent and sometimes it is too vulgar even to mention the word.

Yet nobody can deny its literary charm. It can even make a rat’s ass out of morally superior people around us. It ought to be indecent though, because what was just up behind somebody’s ass is now up your nose!

After literature, the category of fart jokes in silly joke books and websites are one of the most popular sections. Sample this. Q: What is the sharpest thing in the world? A: A fart. It goes through your pants and doesn’t even leave a hole. Or this. Q: What’s the definition of bravery? A: A person with diarrhea chancing a fart! And if you are a general-knowledge kind of guy, this is yours: A fart travels at the speed of 4.017 metres per second. Another GK bonus: Farting is a form of greeting for the Yanomami people of South America. Hola! Dhonggg!

On air: Breaking news!

Closer home in my town we are a decent society. We kill each other for a piece of territory. The army and police also help us generously in this killing department. We murder as well for a few thousand of rupees but Manipur is very decent. We are very decent so a fart is strictly a private matter. Never mind our obsession with ‘yongchaak’.

In Manipuri literature too, there are allusions to smoking marijuana and opium or in direct references, drinking booze, but a fart is always a loud ‘No’. So is the case with sex—both are vulgar than our competition in looting from the public treasury and spilling blood at every chance we get. FYI, we are also very mindful of our deco-fucking-rum in the same degree as we can hold in the gas.

No scientist has invented a bum calipers to measure the great gas of gloom or devised a scientific formula to assess its lethal power. Still we can speculate some reasons why a fart is always funny. If we admit it frankly, both farting and hearing a fart are hilarious though the reason can be diagonally opposite. In this context, the theories behind humour and laughter explain why a brash bowel horn is so rib-tickling at times. (Check The Story of Laughter for more info), with the phenomena falling the closest to Incongruity Theory of humour.  

In the Incongruity Theory, thinkers like Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer theorised that laughter and humour are a sudden result of the incongruity or absurdity of what we expect and what we get in reality—or what we expected and what we experienced. In Kant’s word, laughter arises ‘from the sudden transformation of a strained expectation into nothing’.
—    The Story of Laughter, November 2015

Human beings have a unique power to observe the self but more than experiencing spiritual epiphanies, we are more amusingly conscious with the discernible sound and fury in our own body.

A fart is a literal relief from the gravity of a situation in an easy way. Fartologists have as well found that no matter how much we hold in, we just cannot clutch it in our sleep, which is usually when we are relaxed the most. What could be better in this life than a relieving slumber! But once in a blue moon it could end in a tragic way too. Last month (Dec 2015) in the US, a wife was jailed on the charge of domestic violence. She had attacked her husband because the guy just could not stop his back crack track. (Read about it on the Huffington Post)

The concept of age eighteen in schoolbooks as the base year of adulthood is so over-rated. When we were comparatively young, we considered those people in their 20s and 30s to be ‘old’ or that they were mature adults, who would not fight with their siblings over a piece of chicken wing. Only when we reach their age we find how wrong we were in understanding them. No age knows the division between immaturity and maturity. It is this same reason, particularly the former that makes us ‘dig’ at a bottom burp.

Some fart experts consider that the funniness of fart owes to relativity. For instance we hear the body sounds when we are sick. When you are bed-ridden for two days, you can hear the bones when you move the least distance. However it is not funny at all because of its seriousness. Yet, if we consider fart and its cousins like poop and pee, there is no kind of danger; indeed it entertains us and accentuates our growth as human beings, which is most evident from the preachers of optimism.  

Finally, the next time I play Neil Young’s Fart of Gold, nope, I mean, Heart of Gold on YouTube, I’m going to dedicate it to the lady who died for a fart.


PS: Many artists in my town have creatively transformed the wisdom of art for art’s sake into fart for fart’s sake. Apparently they love ‘yongchaak’ too much, even more than how the Thais, Burmese or whosoever relishes this seasonal delicacy does. The credit must also go to their originality in aping others.

Try a bonus tongue twister from this blog for the Fart of Gold readers: Crisp back crack track.



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