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Eric Shackle Writes: The Wind Doth Blow

Eric Shackle raises a windy issue.

Most of us use the euphemism “breaking wind” when speaking of flatulence, the passage of gas from the anus. It’s also called breaking spider, bottom burp, fluffer-doodle and air biscuit. We all do it, sometimes loud and often, but let’s not pussyfoot around. We’ll simply adopt the centuries-old word, Farts.

In 1722 Dean Jonathan Swift, author of the brilliant satire Gulliver’s Travels, wrote a pamphlet called The Benefit of Farting, playfully changing a single letter of The Benefit of Fasting, written by the most celebrated writer of the previous century, Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down and Connor and Vice-Chancellor of Dublin University.

The London literary critic Gary Dexter wrote in the November 21, 2009 issue of The Spectator magazine:
“Swift proves not only that the suppression of farts leads to ‘Quakerism and Enthusiasm’ but also to the excessive talkativeness of women.

.As he puts it:

A Fart, tho’ wholesome, does not fail
If barr’d of Passage by the Tail
To fly back to the Head again,
And by its Fume, disturb the Brain:
Thus Gunpowder confin’d, you know, Sir,
Grows stronger as ‘tis ram’d the closer;
But if in open Air it fires,
In harmless Smoke its Force expires.






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