This post originally appeared on March 6, 2013. It has returned in honor of Throw-Back Thursday!
Yesterday, as I was washing dishes, I ran the sponge over the final cutting board and Randi and I caught of whiff of something foul. We looked at each other. “Did you smell that?” I asked. We checked behind us (beware floating clouds of filth!). We checked our shoes. I even went so far as to smell–discreetly–my own armpits. We narrowed in on the sponge at the same time, bending over the sink, our nostrils flared and sniffing.
Once, when I worked in a Berkeley retail store, someone thought it was a good idea to set mouse traps in ignored corners of the building–the back of the photo lab, along the balcony, amidst the scores and scores of refrigerator-sized boxes of Croc Shoes and Gaiaim yoga mats. The traps were then forgotten until one day the scent of decay wafted over the ventilation system.
The sponge smelled like that. Randi and I both reared back, the same wrinkled noses and gagging tongues. Our reaction was so synchronized, it felt premeditated. I tossed the sponge in the trash, activated another, and immediately rewashed the entire dripping stack.
In “The Strange Politics of Disgust,” David Pizarro, a psychologist who studies the way emotions affect moral judgements, presents a handful of interesting findings about this basic human emotion, including the origins of disgust (as a survival skill) and the psychology of disgust (and how it ties into hate). In the past, I’ve had a handful of writing prompts that revolve around fear. This year, I thought why not turn our pens towards another powerful feeling? And so, here are three writing prompts inspired by Pizarro’s talk: Continue reading