My partner @opsimaths found this gem, and not since last year’s poop transplants have I seen such a strong science/poop crossover story. But language is so interesting. When is it better, or more useful, to use “excrement” for “waste”, “poop” for “fecal matter”, “take care of business” for “excretion”?
Click through to see various bloggers’ treatments, and check out a much more extensive list of poop names here.
My thought, though, is that writers have to deal with poop carefully. A poll from PoopReport suggests that 92% of respondents are not ambivalent toward poop. Whether they think it’s funny or gross, there exists quite of bit of language that especially invokes the yin or the yang of animalian digestive tract waste products.
A theatrical director and good friend of mine told me once that “Anyone can say poop and be funny”. This was in the context of trying to stop using it to get quick laughs. When an audience laughs at poop when you say it, it usually has nothing to do with you being a special snowflake comic genius. Instead, it usually has to do with the universality of people’s responsiveness to poop: anyone can say poop and it will be “funny”.
This is surely an oversimplification, as is any reduction of “two sides of a thing” to that of an explicit dichotomy, or yinyang. I’d love to have the time to write some longer creative pieces that try to explore the ideas of waste/poop each in a funny/repulsive light, but I’ll put some rough experiments in the comments. I encourage you to experiment as well, here or in the safety of a smaller or larger audience.