Fastidious readers may wish to forego the enlightenment of this post, since the road to wisdom here passes through a district that was not on the map in your Sunday school. I this morning read the unfamiliar word felching, and ever eager to expand my vocabulary immediately hit upon this:
Felching (sucking or eating semen out of someone’s anus) is a sexual behavior about which virtually nothing has been written in the scholarly literature, despite the fact that it appears to be a not-uncommon practice among certain subpopulations of men who have sex with men (MSM).
My first thought upon reading this arresting line was to wonder how anyone could find the scantiness of scholarly literature on felching remarkable. My second was to reflect on the ubiquity of this sort of marveling at the oversights and omissions of scribbling scholars. My third was to ask myself why scholars undertake to scribble a literature about anything at all.
Reflecting on the neglected field of felching studies has helped me to answer this last question. What I see is that scholars will not undertake to scribble a literature about felching until they pass a judgment on felching, and that scholarly scribbling will ensue only if this judgement renders one of four verdicts.
The first verdict is that felching is a human good that can be improved by scholarly scribbling. Scientists can, for instance, discover ways to mitigate the insalubrities of sucking on an anus, and in collaboration with engineers can devise safe but satisfying felching technologies. Social scientists can break down the shame and stigma by which felchers and the felching community are oppressed, and in collaboration with educators can devise programs and curricula that promote felching as one more fragrant flower in the garden of human sexuality.
The second verdict is that felching is a human evil that can be eradicated by scholarly scribbling. Such a verdict on felching is very unlikely in the present climate of scholarship, but the desire to eradicate something they judge to be evil very often sets scholars to scribbling. Eradication naturally begins with identification of root causes, and scholars love nothing so much as scribbling demonstrations that some particular noxious weed is, in fact, just one more sprout from what they have all along maintained is the root of all evils.
The third verdict is that scribbling about felching is intrinsically satisfying, very possibly more satisfying than felching itself. To adapt an expression I have heard scholars use in other contexts, “felching is good to think.” Men and women who live the life of the mind are ennobled, and enjoy a glimpse of the ideal realm, when long and patient study allows them at last to comprehend felching in all its aspects and implications. They consequently undertake to scribble a literature because they hope to deepen and propagate this beatific vision.
The third verdict is that the scantiness of the scholarly literature on felching makes felching the next Eldorado of ambitious scholars. It is one of those fabled “gaps in the literature” that makes a poor scribbler shout “Bonanza” and reach for his laptop.
These are, as I said, the four reasons scholars undertake to scribble a literature about anything at all. They either hope to amplify some human good, to eradicate some human evil, to enjoy (and propagate) an intrinsic pleasure of the mind, or to reap the rewards of a scholarly Bonanza. Consideration of the as yet undeveloped field of felching studies makes these four reasons particularly clear.
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I believe the author of the aforementioned quote is acting on the verdict of Bonanza, since this is the verdict that cannot be spoken out loud. The author’s evasion is evident in the second clause of his arresting sentence. This states that there is a paucity of scholarly literature on felching,
despite the fact that it appears to be a not-uncommon practice among certain subpopulations of men who have sex with men (MSM).
A careless reading of that line may leave you with the impression that felching is not uncommon among homosexual men (MSM), but a careful reading discovers that the author is telling us that felching is not uncommon among homosexual men who felch. This is undoubtedly true, especially of the “subpopulation” of felching homosexuals in which felching is not uncommon.
I draw your attention to this sleight of hands because it is a not-uncommon practice among a certain subpopulation of scribbling scholar, namely those who are motivated by the anticipated rewards of a scholarly Bonanza. The practice resembles what prospectors used to call “salting the mine.” To salt a mine was to sprinkle it with gold dust and nuggets before showing it to a prospective investor or purchaser. And mines were salted to make those investors or purchasers cry Bonanza, thus doubling the bonanza of the prospector who owned and salted the mine.
Scribbling scholars “salt the mine” by magnifying the enormity of the gap they have discovered in the literature, and they do this in the in the hope that publishers and editors will cry Bonanza and double the bonanza of the scribbling scholar. Hence the crafty suggestion that felching is not uncommon in a line that really says felching is not uncommon among the tiny sub-population of fetchers for whom felching is not uncommon.
Now, how about drawing up a contract with me as editor of a new Journal of Felching Studies!