We’re still pretty enamored with the information on gestures that Elisabeth told you about yesterday--which, by the way, was inspired by an actual reference request about a gesture--and as such, I’ve just got to mention one more.
To pull down your pants and expose your buttocks is an insult, naturally. No real confusion there. However, in Desmond Morris’s explanation in Bodytalk, many questions emerge:
“The...message is an ancient one...The human species is the only primate to possess a pair of rounded buttocks. In earlier centuries it was believed that this made the Devil intensely envious. [!] Lacking buttocks himself [!!], Satan was outraged by any reminder of this fact. ...And since the Devil, in place of buttocks, carried on his rump a second face [!!!], it became a familiar taunt to shout out ‘Kiss my arse’ when the display was aimed at human companions” (15).
Okay, so, to recap: the Devil is envious of humans for having buttocks and he has a SECOND FACE ON HIS RUMP. Let us not overlook the fact that Morris states that it was super fun to show your behind and yell “kiss my arse” at human companions...as opposed to when you want to tell your pet hyena or that gaggle of geese what’s what.
On days like today, when I’m given the opportunity to share these pieces of fascinating information with you, I feel so lucky to be a librarian. In what other profession would this be considered work?
In unrelated news, we're so excited that so many of you are using our new chat reference service! Keep your questions coming!