10.27.2005I suppose you don't much care about this, but I have a confession. I have very recently become fond of taking a shit in the 4th floor bathroom of Greg Hall. I do it late in the evening after nearly everyone has left, and where I can take my time without interruptions or knockings at the door. It is deeply satisfying, beyond the mere gastrointestinal relief.
Two points to help contextualize this.
The first is that, up until this very year, I never took a shit in a public restroom. Never. I would hold it until it gave me cramps and I felt as if I was going to pass out, but I would hold it just the same. I assume it was some sort of social anxiety disorder, though in nearly all other ways I am rather blase about standard biological functions. The bathroom on the 4th floor, however, is isolated, and HUGE- it is a single room, nearly as big as my first studio apartment, with no interior walls and two plush chairs, and a big, comfortable throne. The toilet paper is cheap industrial 1-ply, which was one of my standard excuses for not using public restrooms, but somehow in this situation it doesn't bother me.
The second point to make is that as a kid in my teens I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. I would go in to take a shit and wouldn't come out for hours. I would devour entire Calvin and Hobbes collections in one sitting. In our house, with 2 bathrooms and 7 females, it was extremely hard to get into the bathroom in the first place, so when I got the chance I emptied out my entire body cavity. I should note that this was in my pre-masturbatory youth- this wasn't sexual, it was just alone time, away from the rumbling of the house. I do remember my parents teasing me with jokes I didn't quite get, assuming it wasn't just innocent escapism, but honestly, it was.
In any case, the 4th floor bathroom here in Greg Hall has reawakened this aspect of my youth, and it has proved more than cathartic (yeah, go ahead and intend that pun)- it has proved useful. In the course of these visits I have been flipping through various books I wouldn't have read otherwise, and happened upon Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition, which has an excellent description of technology and its relation to humanity. So for the next few days I will be quoting extensively from passages in the book, specifically in chapter 4: Work.
The chapter begins with section 18 and 19, about the durability of the world and the reification of the artifacts we construct, but I will being with section 20: Instrumentality and Animal Laborans.