Archive for October 23rd, 2010
Richard Zacks’ An Underground Education is a bottomless repository of ways in which human beings have been brutal and beastly to one another over the millennia.
Of interest today is Zacks’ accounting of how the wealthy once relied upon the teeth of the poor and the dead to replace their own rotting dentition.
Ambrose Pare, sometimes described as “the father of modern surgery,” wrote of “a lady of the prime nobility who had her rotten tooth pulled, then at the same time had a sound tooth drawn from one of her waiting maids, to be substituted and inserted, which tooth over time took root and grew so strong that she could chew upon it as well as any of the rest.” It is said that the practice among Parisian dentists of the 1780s, of yanking teeth from the mouths of the poor to fit them into the rotting gums of the French aristocracy, was one of the factors that ultimately encouraged the French peasantry to support removing the heads of said aristocrats.
The guillotine, however, hardly stopped the practice. Zacks tells us that George Washington’s dentist, John Greenwood, returned from a trip to Europe in 1805 with an entire keg filled with human teeth. Zacks notes that “[a] whole generation wore ‘Waterloo’ dentures made from teeth yanked from the corpses on the battlefield and the practice continued as late as the Civil War, when thousands of teeth were stolen from bodies moldering at places like Bull Run and Gettysburg.” Prayed one supplier of stolen teeth: “Oh, sir, only let there be a battle, and there will be no want of teeth. I’ll draw them as fast as the men are knocked down.”
I was reminded of these practices when I read today that the shameless corporados of Colgate Palmolive stole a folk toothpowder used by the people of India for centuries, patented it in the US, and have now returned with it to India, hoping thereby to reap billions by knocking out the native competition in the Indian oral-hygiene market.
Okay, this is pretty cool.
My daughter, when she was 16, wrote a novel—then intended as the first work in a trilogy; now, I believe, the first of a projected seven. No publishers have yet picked it up, because they are Wrong. But still she perseveres.
Apparently she has been hanging out of late at a website called deviantART, which appears to be a sort of vortex for illustrating Young People. There she posted her novel, which I discovered has somewhere along the line been renamed Maiden of Woodland Secrets, which sounds sort of literary-erotica. I don’t recall any particular lubriciousness the last time I read it, but who knows? Things change.
In any event, deviant people are there giving her feedback, which is quite nice. One of the deviants even created a drawing of the book’s title character, Violet, which I have stolen and posted here.
If you too would like to read this book, you can access it via my daughter’s deviant gallery here.
My daughter is a Star, and someday by this world that will be Seen.