Political Fecology In Practice
I am currently a third year law student and die-hard PoopReport fan. I am writing to thank this site for its unbelievable contribution to our community and to share a heartwarming, albeit somewhat smelly, story.
I must first begin by praising your stand against the abject. So many people these days are fearful of that which they find gross, disgusting, and putrid. This is often referred to as the "ick" factor. So I have immense respect for you and the community you have encouraged on this website because it replaces the idea of disposal with the idea of recycling.
At PoopReport, people transform their experiences with their poop into humorous stories we can all laugh at. We read these narratives and we laugh hysterically. Somehow, in the process, poop becomes less disgusting to us. It becomes more bearable. PoopReport transforms the idea of poop from something to be disposed of into something that we can use to make ourselves feel better.
The articles submitted to this website have inspired a constant search for new methods to deconstruct the logic of the abject and to criticize those who view the world in terms of waste and obsolescence. For that, I owe a thanks.
There is not enough of an effort to recycle our perception of poop. Although I have not personally contributed to PoopReport in the past, I am no stranger to its content. As a college student I participated in debate, and my debate career culminated in an argument that encouraged all people to recycle their poop to create electricity and decrease our dependence on fossil fuels.
Most if not all PoopReporters are already aware that this is possible. The process is easy: harvest poop, keep it in a large container at the same temperature as a human stomach (approximately ninety-seven degrees), and introduce small amounts of lake water containing micro-organisms. The tiny bugs eat the poop in the container and fart out methane. Collect the methane, ignite it, use the combustion to spin a turbine, and generate the electricity we need to power computers, refrigerators, televisions and iPods.
A good amount of research that my debate team used in our argument was "harvested" from PoopReport. M. Cortez's article Brown Meets Green: The Political Fecology of Poopreport.com was indispensable in our preparations and brought us many victories on the national college debate circuit. Through my research, I have been persuaded that poop-based biomass is an underrated solution to global warming.
Poop is a renewable source of energy that can be harvested from every living mammal, whereas oil is finite and harmful to our environment. It is unfortunate that our culture cannot see past the "ick" factor and understand that poop need not be disposed at any cost. Making fun of poop, sharing poop narratives, and laughing at our preoccupation with disgust is the first step in realizing poop's possibilities.
It is for this reason that I share my own poop narratives.
Our confrontation had been hyped all year long. What would happen when the poop energy advocates from the University of R----- went up against the community clowns from a rival school? One team always found a way to upstage its opponents with absurd arguments, while the other was actually serious when they argued that we should recycle our poop in order to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. Finally, at the 2005 National Debate Tournament at Gonzaga University, it happened.
Three judges, thirty spectators, and a subsidiary of ESPN videotaping the event. A representative from the poop energy team gets up to offer the first constructive, reading through a collection of extended quotations ranging from abstract environmental philosophy to narrative stories published on PoopReport, all while the rival clown team is feverishly preparing their response. Nine minutes of speech time disappear in a flash, and it is time for cross-examination. As soon as the timer begins, a member of the opposing team walks outside the room and re-emerges holding a clear plastic bag filled with warm, squishy poop. He walks over to the poop energy debate team's table, drops it in front of them, hands them his laptop computer, and asks his first question. "Ok. So show me how to power my laptop with this poop."
This was an excellent strategy. These two were not just absurd clowns -- they were assaulting the academic poop defenders with non-verbal tactics. The message they were trying to convey was that we, the poop defenders, were too theoretical. We could say "don't be afraid of your poop" all we wanted, but when it came to actually being confronted with real poop, we would be disgusted just like everyone else.
Little did they know we had taken a tour of a real sewage treatment plant just six days earlier in order to learn the entire process of converting poop to energy. Needless to say, you become slightly desensitized once you have personally witnessed hundreds of thousands of gallons of southern California's poop flowing before your eyes.
The poop defender looks up at his opponent, smiling. "Did you REALLY poop in this bag?"
"Yes. Why, is it gross?"
"Absolutely not. I just think it's freaking hilarious that you did that."
This strategy was not as effective as they had hoped it would be. Near the end of the debate, one of the two poop defenders is preparing for his final speech -- a six-minute argument intended to wrap up the previous two hours of discussion and explain to the judges why we win. Right before the speech begins, the cameraman comes over to the debater. "Hey, man, do you think that you might be able to put that bag of shit on your desk so I can get it in my shot when I am taping your speech?"
So I give a six-minute speech about why we should recycle our poop for electricity with a bag of another man's poop two feet away from my face. It might not have been worth it, had we not prevailed at the end. Oh, but victory smells sweet.
At the time of this debate, I was dealing with a bad break-up. I was consumed with anger and hatred. Our team had finished as one of the top eight in the country, and our coach rewarded us with first-class plane tickets for the ride home. So on the plane back to Los Angeles, I was sitting in first class for the first time ever.
I sat next to an old woman whose life story deeply affected me. Her experiences in violent and oppressive relationships spoke to me. It would be unfair to reproduce her story here without consent, but I will say that she had been through the worst of times. She shared a deeply emotional story with me that changed my perspective on the world. In that brief plane ride, she taught me acceptance and forgiveness in dealing with the past and helped me more than she knew.
Right after this transformative discussion, she pooped herself.
She shat her pants on the airplane. The flight attendant came and got her, took her into the lavatory, and for forty-five minutes helped her clean up the mess. Meanwhile, I sprayed air freshener and wiped up her seat, while every other person on the plane inhaled fecal particles.
She came back to her seat right before we landed, silently sitting down. After a few seconds of silence, she said, "Well... that was awkward."
I looked at her. "Honestly, ma'am, of all of the people to be sitting next to when something like this happens, I am the RIGHT person. After everything I've been through this week, I understand that this is definitely not something to be ashamed of."
My ability to comfort this old woman about poop after she had comforted me about my own issues was the most fulfilling moment of the entire trip.
I see PoopReport as a constant deconstruction of the abject. When we laugh at something, we take the "ick" factor out of it; and once we do that with poop, the possibilities are endless. Nothing should just be thrown away. We are too sophisticated for that these days. Fun leads to sophistication.