Blowin' smoke

Posted by ESC on January 16, 2002 at

In Reply to: An amazing followup posted by bob on January 16, 2002

: Got this by email:

: I recently read your posting on the origin of "Blowing smoke up my ass". I
: don't post on the internet, but I thought you might be interested in some
: information from Jan Bondeseson's new, relatively scholarly book "Buried
: Alive, The Terrifying History of our Most Primal Fear". Apparently, it has
: not always been easy to determine if someone is truly dead. This is a quote
: from Mr. Bondeson's book:

: "Antoine Louis had also proposed another method of testing life, or at least
: stimulating the vital spark in the apparently dead person: with a powerful
: bellows, he administered an enema of tobacco smoke. One of the pipes of
: this remarkable apparatus was thrust into the anus of the apparently dead
: person; the other was connected, by way of a powerful bellows, to a large
: furnace full of tobacco (reference 5). Such enemas of tobacco smoke were
: thought to be very beneficiel and were used to try to revive not only people
: presumed dead but also drowned or unconscious individuals. In 1784, the
: Belgian physician P.J.B. Previnaire was given a prize by the Academy of
: Sciences in Brussels for a book on apparent death, which described and
: depicted an improved bellows for enemas of tobacco smoke, which he called
: Der Doppelblaser (reference 6). These enemas were regularly used well into
: the nineteenth century, particularly in Holland; modern science has
: discerned no physiological rationale for their use, except the pain and
: indignity of having a blunt instrument violently thrust up one's rear
: passage must have had some restorativbe effect (reference 7)."

: The text is accompanied by patent illustrations of the Doppelblaser witht he
: following explanation, "The fearful-looking Doppelblaser, an apparatus for
: administering enemas to ttest the viability of cprpses, described in Dr.
: P.J.B Previnaire's Abhandlung Uper die verschiedenen Arten des Scheintodes
: (Leipzig, 1790)."

: Another illustration bears the caption, " A brave German doctor administers
: an enema of tobacco smoke to a corpse in this curious late
: eighteenth-century plate. From the author's collection."

: I leave it to you and the discussion board to determine if this could be the
: origin of this phrase. Although the topic is somewhat distasteful, I
: recommend Mr. Bondeson's book (ISBN 0-393-04906-X). Please don't use my
: name if you choose to post any of this.

: Sincerely,
: [name withheld]

Here I was getting ready to accuse Bob of blowing smoke. But there actually is such a book -- available on