27 April 2012

Personal Hygiene

Filed under: Reflections — ktismatics @ 1:16 pm

In the shower I use a washcloth but no soap. I gave up the soap over a year ago and neither I nor my loved ones have noticed any unpleasant consequences. I do shampoo regularly.

I shave with a disposable razor and canned shave cream. I used to use a shaving brush and shaving soap but I think I threw the brush away the last time we moved. I gave up on shaving gel because it felt too cold when I smeared it onto my face. It’s my understanding that some men shave before showering, though I have no idea why.

I cut my own hair using an electric trimmer with the three-eighths inch attachment. Usually I do this outdoors so I don’t have to sweep up the clippings. The hardest part is getting the back of the neck even.

I remove unsightly nose and ear hairs as needed with an electric rotary trimmer.



  1. Interesting, esp. about the no soap. may need a luffa scrubber even if you think your aroma is sufficient if not improved…I use disposable razors, but forget the garbage generic ones. This is one area where CVS, at least, is not worth a shit–one won’t even give you a decent single close shave, but I think I remember the Rite-Aid ones do (a disposable would give 7 or 8 even), which I may try once before giving it back up to Gillette. Use shave cream or gel, either one, if I forget to buy, just use regular soap lather for one day. Never even saw the function of a shaving brush. Shaving after showering is better, because the skin has softened, I can get at least one decent shave from the rest of the CVS blades till they run out. They are TRUE crap. Rite-Aid antiseptic soap very good for whole body, but not CVS either, it has perfumes that irritate in it, I still like a luffa, just boil it it gets funky till you get another..

    Cut my own hair for maybe 15 years, but that was for the birds. Go to a barber and get a short cut every 2 months or so. One of the Russians there misunderstood and gave prison haircut, so his next-door guy gets the business now, they’re all Russian.

    Wherefore the extreme asceticism, or is it environmental consciousness?


    Comment by Patrick J. Mullins — 27 April 2012 @ 2:06 pm

  2. I agree about the uselessness of generic razors: not even one good shave to be had. I too use Gillette. They keep adding blades to the razors, which I don’t quite understand — seems like something to take to extremes on an SNL skit. Asceticism — you mean the fact that I don’t use soaps or unguents or emoluments? I just found the soap to be drying, so then I’d use some sort of lotion to compensate, until I decided to use Occam’s razor and got rid of both. Or is it my self-administered prison haircut? I’ve come to prefer it short, since it goes well with the male pattern semi-baldness; I cut it maybe once a month. The washcloth has adequate exfoliant properties; I presume the luffa is more abrasive, though I’ve never used one. I wish I’d brought a French washcloth home with me: it fits over the hand like a glove.

    This seems like the sort of thing I could write on Twitter: just got out of the shower, using Barbasol these days.


    Comment by ktismatics — 27 April 2012 @ 2:29 pm

  3. LOL ’emoluments’, did you do that to tease me? I love it.

    No, not a prison haircut. I’m going to get one time after next, I have to get a nicely smart one on Tues. or Wednesday for later this month, when I’ll be under pleasant scrutiny, and have to project chic (kraut shaves appeal to a smaller demographic, as well they should.) But for the summer, a prison haircut is great, because you don’t have to comb your hair for a month.

    Luffas just feel great and dig out anything from city water, etc. I think they come in that kind of glove-form too, just like hot-pads for the kitchen do. Very cheap, too, these are even serviceable from CVS and Rite-Aid.


    Comment by Patrick J. Mullins — 27 April 2012 @ 7:29 pm

  4. I was surprised to see that the two words have different etymologies: emollient comes from soft; emolument, from grind. So that means the washcloth and the luffa are the emoluments. I didn’t address the issue of eyebrow trimming because a quick scissor snip seems to do the trick, but I wonder how long mine would get if I didn’t intervene. And why did I write this post again?


    Comment by ktismatics — 27 April 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  5. Because you want to continue down the garden path that you informed Anne about–the Firbankalisms that replaced the intellectual virtues she began to see evaporating, but wouldn’t have called attention to on her own. Although as the neurotic little pansey himself might say “It may have only have been feigned amazement”…

    In ‘The Artificial Princess’, there is discussion of some towel that has gotten wet, and one of the characters says “Of course it was in Sicily, so it dried very quickly”.


    Comment by Patrick J. Mullins — 27 April 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  6. Oh no, not more Firbankalisms. At least I haven’t started shaving my legs.

    I’ve begun reading Downriver by Iain Sinclair, a set of interconnected stories about a rundown part of London undergoing regentrification during the Thatcher era. The narrator refers to one of the character’s “preening erudition,” and in so doing he’s surely being at least a bit self-referential. But the style, while dense, is far from stuffy or academic — more like our friend Pynchon with some of Burroughs’ delirium. I think the book is constructed by Sinclair walking through the neighborhood observing people, engaging in brief conversations, then inventing stories about them, which he interweaves with stories drawn from the region’s history and lore. It’s almost hermetically regional sometimes, littered with references that only a Londoner would understand, but in its fantastic and acrobatic prose the book is compelling. It’s possible I’ll find it too much to finish since there’s no real plot or continuity to build momentum. But each of the twelve chapters stands alone, so I can stop before I feel overwhelmed.


    Comment by ktismatics — 27 April 2012 @ 10:12 pm

  7. Sinclair is heavy going. I started Downriver but… He shares a lot of interests with( and seems inspired by) the fantasy writer Michael Moorcock, who of late has gotten sort of literary and brought out a few like ‘Mother London’ . Moorcock’s got an impressive productivity and imagination, but his style is not the most readable… do love the Jerry Cornelius novels though. Also Peter Ackroyd ( London: the biography; Hawksmoor…) seems to be an influence and kindred spirit. There’s a distinct genre dipping into quasi-mysical symbolism (like the distribution of Hawksmoor’s churches), for instance the ‘graphic novelist’ Alan Moore visited it in his Jack the Ripper tale ‘From Hell’ – the one that became a movie.

    Sinclair is as much a poet as a novelist, and his novels seem like very long poems. Maybe to dip into rather than read from beginning to end. His essays for the London Review of Books are all very entertaining, though. There’s lots in the online archive. Some of them will be free to view, but I don’t know how to tell which – you’ve just got to click on them. Otherwise, non-subscribers just get the first quarter, like in these 2 which are on topic ( of Sinclair and London, not personal hygiene – the first one’s a review of Moorcock’s London books):



    Comment by lafayettesennacherib — 30 April 2012 @ 5:22 am

  8. That first article especially reflects the cadences of Downriver. So far I remain captivated, though I accept your permission to sample if the time comes. I also agree about the book’s poetics — here’s the last sentence I read, which appears on page 136:

    He arrived just as the exanimate sun fell behind the mosque, innocently emphasizing the glory of its bilious brickwork — against which lurched the lengthening shadows of the unquenched vagrants.

    Reading this sentence now in isolation, noting the incongruous adjectives, I’m reminded of Borges. Sinclair’s book is like poetry, but also like short stories, a concentrated literary form that allows for intense and experimental style without inducing reader fatigue. In the second essay Sinclair tacitly acknowledges that he cannot imagine writing in or about anywhere other than London. His book swarms with a host of minor gods and devils who seem almost indistinguishable from the architecture and topography. What’s that newfangled term? Ah yes, it’s mentioned in Sinclair’s wikipedia page: Psychogeography.


    Comment by ktismatics — 30 April 2012 @ 11:17 am

  9. Even though I like the worlbuilding aspect I don’t seem to read much fantasy fiction. Downriver veers toward fantasy, with London being its own planet riddled with timewarps and psychotic breaks. I felt obligated to read China Mieville’s Embassytown, a mongrelized fantasy world that I presume is modeled on London. It was pretty good, though I’ve read bits of two of his subsequent novels and found them boring.

    In context of the post, Sinclair seems taken by the his characters’ lack of personal hygiene, probing with undisguised relish their pustules and suppurations as the bodily manifestations of their squalor.


    Comment by ktismatics — 30 April 2012 @ 11:23 am

  10. I went through a phase of reading fantasy and SF, when I was a student – a change from the stuff I was obliged to read. That seems to be the demographic for that stuff. They used to seem like more value for money than literary fiction – if you’re going to be taken off on a flight of fancy, then the more exotic the better – but eventually they just all seem the same. And they’re so REACTIONARY – it’s always tales of kings and wizards and feats of arms – some overlap with the Stormfront world, as is the world of gaming.

    And then there’s always a new one that bucks the trend, but of course they never do much. The current rave seems to be George R.R. Martin’s ‘Song of Fire and Ice’ series ( 5 vols so far) which is now coming out as an HBO tv show, ‘Game of Thrones’, whose 2nd season is now underway. And very well-done it is too – no way is it up with Lost. or Battlestar Galactica (2003 SF channel remake) or the Wire etc – but it looks great, and is good fun so far. But the only thing that bucks the trend is that it’s got sex in it, even gay sex! Gay male sex too; not just the starship’s chief shemale officer having a token lez-up for the lads, which crops up embarrassingly often.

    Still, it’s good that CGI has got accessible and cheap enough to convincingly realise stuff like this – saves reading the books. I hope HBO or someone has a go at some of Jack Vance’s books.


    Comment by lafayettesennacherib — 1 May 2012 @ 12:12 am

  11. Game of Thrones I’ve heard of but not seen; maybe I’ll give it a trial run. And I’ve seen previously that you’re a persistent viral spokesman for Battlestar — or maybe it was Babylon 5. Scott Bakker, author of Neuropath which I wrote a recent post about, is primarily a fantasy writer.


    Comment by ktismatics — 1 May 2012 @ 4:49 am

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