This is a book review from someone I don’t personally know, I didnt pay or suck his dong to write this. It humbled me! (good deeds always do that)
Vulgarity, what does it mean? Wikipedia denotes vulgar as common, coarse, unrefined. So who makes those decisions? Who is it that decides what is vulgar, what can be vulgar, and what can be excluded as vulgar? Vulgarity is so often a personal perception, though it can also be a communal, even national one.
As far as creativity is concerned, vulgarity is an unfocused area, one that often shifts and meanders depending on the artist and their perspective. Some artists use common perceptions of vulgarity in order to emphasise a point, others to underline an assumption, others still, use vulgarity to set a scene, and yet others embrace vulgarity as a necessity, an integral part of the human condition. That is the space that Mon Graffito takes up in his latest book The Writing On The (Toilet) Wall.
We are all flesh and blood, we are all physical in our make up, our character, our essence. To pretend otherwise is delusional at best, dysfunctional at worst. Our needs, our urges, our drives are not evil, tainted, or inappropriate. When it comes to sex, those needs, urges, and drives are integral to our character, to our physicality.
We are sexual creatures by nature, it is an integral part of the glory of who we are. Why then should it be seen as something less than, something hidden, something not talked about in polite society? Should we not revel in our sexuality, as much as we revel in our thoughts and in our actions? Mon Graffito takes the discomfort that many feel towards the public exclamation of sex and sexuality, and writes it on the wall, on the toilet wall to be specific.
There is a long history of messages, assignations, meetings arranged on the toilet wall. Public toilets have been ‘haunts for depravity’ since there were such things as public toilets. Gay sexuality in particular used the public toilet system as connection points for intimacy, places for the sanctity of sex, cathedrals of need, urge, and drive.
Mon Graffito has taken that history of sanctity and used it as the essence for this book. As he terms it himself, it is a book of: “…sleazy graffiti, drawings and immoral poems and some colourful pages, from cave paintings to Mon Graffito.” This is a writer that revels in the physicality of life, and in particular, the physicality of sex. The book is strewn with illustrations of the enjoyment of sex, whether singly, as couples, or groups. All are relevant, important and vital. They are a glorification of what it is to be alive, and what it is to feel that life pulsing through and out of you.
Mon Graffito’s poetry cascades across the book. There are encounters, reminiscences, thoughts. There is humour, sadness, analogies and moments, all part of the cavalcade of life whether Mon’s or the readers. All of us understand that our lives are full of moments, scenes, vignettes. Some are tender, some are fumbling, some are full on train wrecks, but they all go to make up who we are, and who we are to others.
Reading through this book, you soon begin to realise that the vulgarity that you perceived is actually an illusion. The spit, sperm, piss that are an integral part of the illustrations and poetry of the book, are also an integral part of who we are. They are all bodily fluids, part of the essence of being alive, being vital, being human, they are not grotesque travesties, they are warm, connective, collaborative.
The Writing On The (Toilet) Wall is not a book to be dismissed lightly. It is an important reminder that we are rooted in the earth. Yes, we may well have lofty ambitions of touching the heavens, that is admirable, but we should never forget that we will always have, and must always have, one foot firmly rooted in the mud of the physical. We are guts and bones, the expansive and the pumping. We are the needs, urges, and drives of the physical body, we are the spit, sperm, piss, and shit of life. If we forget that, or refuse to integrate that into our lives, then we lose the ability to be human.
Vulgarity is common, course, unrefined, and long may it continue to be so.
The author has made it clear to me that he is more than welcome for comments to be emailed to him, whether they be comments of celebration or outrage, all are good to him.
The Writing On The (Toilet) Wall can be purchased viaAmazon.com