Jack’s Naughty Bits: James Joyce, Ulysses, Part Two

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Jack's Naughty Bits

To eat or not to eat — ass that is. In Joyce’s Ulysses, Bloom eats it; in a story of mine, one of the characters munches away (I won’t say what this suggests of me and Joyce — we are fiction writers after all), yet my various cocktail party surveys have all indicated the same thing: not many men that I know eat ass. I was a little surprised to learn this, for, from what I hear, most women like it — a lot. The body doesn’t have many orifices, after all; you’d think people would want to take advantage of all there are (think of the benefits of having three martinis instead of two). But the curious truth is that while most men are willing to fuck any part of a woman’s body — the ass, between the breasts, in the armpit, behind the knee — they still get a little squeamish putting their tongues in the excretory vacuole.


It’s not that I don’t understand — shit gets a kind of bad rap, and the uninformed seem to think that rimming has a lot more to do with feces than it really does (which, by the by, makes me speculate about the hygienic habits of the nay-sayers). But all trepidation and exaggeration aside, what would one not do to give pleasure? Various Motown hits have enumerated the deserts one might cross, the mountains one might climb for the beloved, so I ask, is licking the anus really so daunting? Anthropology is one long lesson in how one man’s abominable is another’s pleasant. What is unthinkable on one side of the globe is commonplace on another (or in between). So while you might think that this is a simple sermon on doing all and everything to make your lover happy (even though, granted, there are some people who are not exactly begging for the spécialité du chef under discussion — yet), I’m really talking about ethics and perspective. The “inherently” gross is inherent only within a context, and that context can change — like one’s mind. When in Rome, we are told to do as the Romans. In Southeast Asia, you might well eat fried termites. And in bed with your true love? Demur at you own risk.

Eating ass is one thing; writing about it is another. Never have I lingered so long over my clay tablet as when I tried to describe that most curious of tastes (odder still than either the durian fruit or fresh sea urchin). The sad truth is that the excerpt below — Joyce’s description of Bloom’s bum-kissing — dodges the issue slightly. Joyce opts for cadence and mellifluence instead of hard adjectives — he describes the act more than the experience — and it’s a shame, for nothing would have given me more pleasure than to see the consummate wordsmith butt up against the aggressively corporeal — in all its ineffability.

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From Ulysses by James Joyce

He kissed the plump mellow yellow smellow melons of her rump, on each plump melonous hemisphere, in their mellow yellow furrow, with obscure prolonged provocative melonsmellonous osculation.

The visible signs of postsatisfaction?

A silent contemplation: a tentative velation: a gradual abasement: a solicitous adversion: a proximate erection.

© James Joyce