Random neuron firing, lame philosophy, literary pontificating, movies, sex, clothes & other femme stuff

Friday, February 13, 2004

Back pain, naso-genital theories

My back was hurting a bit yesterday. I thought it might go away by today. Ha ha, it said. No such luck. I'm spending today flat on it, which for some reason appeases it, with my knees (really their sweaty . . . backs? insides? versos? ventrals?) supported by pillows. And my allergies are driving me crazy, so I keep coughing and sneezing, which causes my back muscles to clench exquisitely, sending pain shoots to all corners of the land.

It's amazing, you realize when you injure it, how many random mundane actions your back has a hand in, as it were. Brushing your teeth, for example.

For some reason, too, I've been horny all morning. But I'm not masturbating. Not as I write this, anyway. If sneezing from my nose sends my back into pyrotechnical spasms of pain, just imagine what sneezing from down there would do . . . .

I'm sure Freud's nosy friend and influential mentor Wilhelm Fliess had something to say about this somewhere. He's the guy who strove to invest with scientific respectability the notion (which Freud credited for some time) that the nose and genitals are so inextricably interlinked that, for instance, chronic rhinitis is a reliable indicator of excess masturbation. * If you've never read about what Freud and Fliess theorized about, and perpetrated upon, the nose of poor Emma Eckstein, Wikipedia has an excellent capsule summary of the story, along with a link to a diverting review of the play, "Emma's Nose," based on the incident, and to the letter Freud wrote Fliess finally informing him that in removing the turbinate bone of her nose to cure her depression, menstrual cramps, and chronic masturbation Fleiss had accidentally left behind within the wound a half a meter of surgical gauze, resulting days later in a serious, fetid infection and, during removal, a nearly fatal hemorrage (much later, also, the caving-in of one side of her face).

Also, Fliess advocated the theory of bisexuality, a football Freud instantly picked up and ran with straight out the door of the stadium, and of biorhythms, which he left behind but others have picked up and absconded with since (for your own Web-o-rhythm, click here).

I've read some speculation about the current of homoeroticism Fliess and Freud's seventeen-year, love-hate, nasal-erotic, cocaine-fueled, academic relationship may have been structured to channel. This speculation seems right on the mark to me. On the other hand, I have not read much speculation about the likelihood that Fliess's family, embarrassed by Wilhelm's shenanigans, reversed the vowels in their surname upon emigrating to the United States, where many years later in Los Angeles a great-granddaughter, sharing some of her ancestor's interests, had considerable success in the service industry.

The connection between nose and sex organs was, of course, already a cliché in the 1760s when Laurence Sterne wrote the "Slawkenbergius's Tale" section of Tristram Shandy, which he cast entirely in Latin, not just to piss off the reader (as with the all-black page and the marbled one, not to mention his persistently inconclusory narratorial tortuousness) but in my opinion so that he could baldfacedly write the word "vagina" whenever Slawkenbergius sheathed his "sword" (which he did every other page or so).

I certainly wouldn't be surprised to learn that nose and genitals are more intimately connected than we know now.
There is heavy evidence that the vomeronasal organ (also called Jacobson’s organ) acts as the pheromone receptor. It is a little sense organ (part of the "sixth sense") just beside the cartilage of the nasal septum and just beside the olfactory nerve. It is only stimulated by pheromones and not by odours, while the olfactory nerve is only stimulated by odours and not by pheromones.
In fairness, I probably should note that this passage, though persuasively backed up there by references to scientific articles, comes from a web page advocating putting needles in your nose to achieve menstrual and genital improvement.

Clicking around to find links to illuminate parts of this post, I've come up a veritable trove of sites I have to talk about as soon as I have time. But right now I promised Leigh I would write up a piece about her dad to be put in a birthday-present memory book.

* Because of chronic allergy-driven rhinitis I've been known among friends since high school as a devout kleenexian, generally maintaining at least one fecund kleenex box within reach in all my habitual spaces and a travel-size packet (for which Anneliese sewed a beautiful green fabric mantle, the best present she's given me since the coconut bra) in my purse. Thus I refute Fliess.

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