Gross Me Out/In: The Butthole Surfers, “Lady Sniff” (1984)

A Master Work-Man shall blow his Nose so powerfully, as to pierce the Hearts of his People, who are disposed to receive the Excrements of his Brain with the same Reverence, as the Issue of it.   Hawking, Spitting, and Belching, the defects of other Mens Rhetorick, are the Flowers, and Figures, and Ornaments of his.  For, the Spirit being the same in all, it is of no import through what Vehicle it is convey’d.[1]

*

“Lady Sniff” is a collision between two runaway trains on the same track.

“Lady Sniff”

Gibby Haynes

Train #1 is the desire to make an immediate and forever decisive Gesture, letting everyone know what for, deal with it or be damned.  Train #2 is the desire to turn all possible material into music—more broadly, the desire to turn whatever seemed inexpressible into forever compelling Expression.

Sometimes a jest is a pretty good gesture, and “Lady Sniff” certainly jests by grossing us out with sounds of vomiting and belching.  Jests and shocks.  Whoever does this is beyond being restrained by anyone or any expectation.

But the thesis that even vomiting and belching belong to music is interesting, too, claiming our attention insofar as we’ve bought into the shared project of discovering what music can say and be.

I have to speak of a collision here because grossing me out and engrossing me are opposite actions.  Can I register both at the same time?  YEAH!  And how tangy is that?

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[1] Jonathan Swift, A Discourse Concerning the Mechanical Operation of the Spirit (London, 1710).

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About Steve Smith

Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies and Director of Film Studies at Millsaps College
This entry was posted in Passions & Attitudes, Rock Aesthetics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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