[NOT cross-posted to the Valve]
According to the June 6, 1885 edition of Medical News, physicians "believe the love of the beautiful has greatly lessened." The human race, laments the anonymous author, ignored Oscar Wilde and "moved steadily on, trampling under foot all flowers in its persistent pursuit of the utilities, though a big helianthus was waved before them in passionate remonstrance." Because of this deplorable situation, "the average man and woman plod on in life, giving more attention to justice and truth...than they do to beauty."
Such a situation cannot be allowed to continue. Therefore, our anonymous oracle exhorts, "we must [find] the source of the love of the beautiful, the fountain of the aesthetic, and see whether the evil so greatly mourned does not originate there." This "fountain," he avers, are "woman's [boobs]."* If
women had no breasts, there would be no love of the beautiful possible for the human race. The Amazons, those unhappy creatures who took off one of their breasts, became celebrated as athletes, but not as aesthetes.
That the female breast is beautiful we might prove by showing that it has the chief characteristics, such as its lines, color, and smoothness, which Plato indicated in Philenus, as essential to beauty.
Our anonymous philosopher knows how to hustle Victorian sensibilities: Plato said boobs are the foundation of aesthetic experience. Who are you to refute Plato? In the unlikely event that his Platonic gropings further inflamed the passions of his readers, our author concedes that his argument need not rely on the supple curves, the milk-white flesh, or the gentle undulations of her delicately dimpled bosom, her profferred fruit heaving under the, uh, need not rely on the Platonic appreciation of breasts:
[W]e prefer at once explaining its connection with the aesthetic faculty, which can be best done by quoting from [Erasmus] Darwin's Zoonomia. Erasmus Darwin in this work, which in some respects is as remarkable as any of the productions of his illustrious grandson, Charles Darwin, tells us that soon after a babe "is born into this cold world it is applied to its mother's warm bosom...which the infant embraces with its hands, presses with its lip and watches with its eyes, and thus acquires accurate ideas of its form. Its pleasure at length becomes associated with its form. And hence in our maturer years when any object is presented to us, which by its waving [?] or spiral [?] lines bears any similitude to this form--whether it be found in a landscape with soft gradations of rising and descending surface, or in the form of some antique vases, or in the works of pencil or chisel--we feel a generous glow of delight."
E. Darwin's reprehensible heteronormativity notwithstanding--Some Gay Guy certainly feels no "generous glow of delight" when encountering lines of Man or Nature resembling pale mounds of swollen flesh--I'm inclined to agree with the conclusion our anonymous author draws from him:
In short, the use of the nursing bottle is the cause of the decline in the appreciation of beauty. [Here here!] Those who love the beautiful, and who mourn its decline, must seek the remedy for the latter by encouraging maternal lactation...when there will be hope that the coming race will attain the poetic ideal in this regard. In an age when so much is accomplished by voluntary organizations, such as for the promotion of charity, the suppression of vice, etc., there might be a society for the promotion of this object.
Wait wait wait. Is anyone else confused? More lactation brings about more refined aesthetic appreciation, I understand that, but a public society for the promotion of breasts? Surely our anonymous author jests:
As women do not nurse because they cannot, their breasts not being sufficiently developed, or because they will not, this society would have its work divided into two great sections--one devoting itself to the culture of the moral sentiment which will compel a mother to nurse her infant, and the other to discovering the best means for cultivating mammary glands.
Then again, maybe he's deadly serious. He really seems to be advocating the formation of a society dedicated to the cultivation of mammary glands. I'm not sensing much opposition from the patriarchy. Even so, surely he only speaks figuratively:
The latter [cultivating] section would be divided into several subsections, each of these giving itself to the special study of these organs. Thus one subsection would investigate the typical form, another the embryogenic development, a third the blood-supply, a fourth the minute anatomy of the glandular structure, and thus on...
Then again, maybe he's deadly literal. (Can you imagine the difficulties our anonymous author would face finding volunteers for the first and fourth subsections?) Lest it slide by unattended, I should note that our friend is suggesting a society dedicated to increasing the aggregate aesthetic appreciation of Western Civilization by studying how breasts form and develop and thus, implicitly, how they might be enlarged. The larger a mother's bosom, the greater the likelihood her son will develop into the next James Joyce.** But our friend still has one "final class" to describe, and it's
a very large one probably, [and] would be composed of those who do not see the purpose of this article, and would be occupied with lymphatic investigation. A society with such various and elaborate breastworks would be invincible. It, of course, would be international, and could be bisected, trisected, and quadrisected--in fact, divided into so many sections that everyone could occupy an official position.
That's it? The end of the article? That can't be the end of the article. I want to know more about my official position in the international breastwork! You don't think he's been pulling my leg, do you?***
*I call that "Fun With Brackets!" The actual text reads: "woman's mammary gland."
**And, as we all know, artificially enhanced breasts and cities packed with starving artists are the keys to a more cultured kingdom. Could Victorian England have produced Debbie Does Dallas or spared the lives of its imperial soldiers with precise deployments of pin-point accurate smart-bombs? I think not.
***Yes, I do, you immature twit.