Friday, 27 March 2020


It's rather cheering that our first line of defence against this new virus is old-fashioned soap and water – good news for retroprogressives everywhere. Also good news for those of us who simply enjoy using soap; it's surely one of life's pleasanter chores to work up a good lather with a pleasingly scented soap and wash your hands with it for the prescribed 20 seconds.
  With soap again in the ascendant, it's only fitting that we should mark the birthday of the French writer Francis Ponge (born on this day in 1899), whose most enduring – or perhaps I should say least forgotten – work was Soap (Le Savon). And soap was, most definitely, its subject. Ponge was for a while associated with the Surrealists, but he drew away from them to plough his own furrow. He was in the French Resistance during the war, and in 1947 (a commendably early date) completed his decoupling from the Surrealists by leaving the Communist party. Believing that 'a mind in search of ideas should first stock up on appearances', he developed an art form all his own, consisting of minutely descriptive prose poems on mundane everyday objects, written in paragraph form, like essays. And the greatest of these was the book-length Soap. I had it, and read it, in my youth, when I was fixated on all things French and avant garde, but I can't say I remember much about it, except that it was all about... soap.
  Here is a representative sample –

'Soap has much to say. May it say it with volubility, enthusiasm. When it has finished saying it, it no longer is.
Soap was made by man for his body’s use, yet it does not willingly attend him. This inert stone is nearly as hard to hold as a fish. See it slip from me and like a frog dive into the basin again … emitting also at its own expense a blue cloud of evanescence, of confusion.
For a piece of soap the principal virtues are enthusiasm and volubility. At any rate ease of elocution. This, which is excessively simple, has nonetheless never been said. Even by the specialist in commercial publicity. And what do the soap-manufacturers offer me—not a penny! They have never even thought of it! Yet soap and I will show them what we can do...' 
Soap owed its inspiration to the war years, when soap of any kind was hard to find, and people began to appreciates its value – none more so, surely, than Francis Ponge.

Oddly enough, the great American writer Stanley Elkin (author of The Dick Gibson Show, The Franchiser, etc) was also a lover of soap, compulsively collecting pieces of it wherever he went. He did this partly in homage to his father, a travelling salesman who also picked up soap wherever he found it. In the title essay of his collection Pieces of Soap, Elkin describes his compulsion, identifying it as a form of 'anal greed' and, like all compulsive collecting, a symbolic way of staving off death. At the time of writing the essay, he had amassed a collection of more than 5,000 pieces of soap, picked up on his travels and hoarded away against... what? Perhaps, like many hoarders, he had a feeling they'd come in handy some time. And it turns out he was right in the end.


  1. شركة نقل عفش
    اهم شركات مكافحة حشرات بالخبر كذلك معرض اهم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والخبر والاحساء والقطيف كذلك شركة رش حشرات بالدمام ومكافحة الحشرات بالخبر
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة الجوهرة من افضل شركات تنظيف الخزانات بجدة حيث ان تنظيف خزانات بجدة يحتاج الى مهارة فى كيفية غسيل وتنظيف الخزانات الكبيرة والصغيرة بجدة على ايدى متخصصين فى تنظيف الخزانات بجدة
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام
    شركة نقل عفش واثاث


  2. شركة سكاي لخدمات نقل العفش والاثاث بالمنطقة العربية السعودية نحن نوفر خدمات نقل اثاث بالرياض ونقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة ونقل عفش بمكة ونقل عفش بالطائف نحن نقدم افضل نقل اثاث بخميس مشيط ونقل عفش بجدة
    شركة سكاي نقل العفش
    مدونة لنقل العفش
    شركة نقل عفش بمكة
    شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
    شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة نقل عفش بجدة
    شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
    شركة نقل عفش بالدمام