The Chamber Pot – A Reminder of our own Humanity

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While I continue to be overwhelmed by the improvements that technology has provided in our lives, I question how far it can actually go to address . . . shall we call it . . . the more “granular” aspects of our humanity. We are at the verge of self-driving cars. We have bots whose voice recognition is replacing apps. And we have genetic targeting in our bio-pharmaceuticals.

Our lives continue to become increasingly more interesting, easier, and productive, through the tools and resources technology provides.

But what of the humble chamber pot? It’s not so much the chamber pot itself, which is a receptacle device. It’s more about the function that requires the need for a chamber pot.

Our toilets today are extraordinarily efficient. One flush and it’s gone. And if you add aromatics – whether bleached, sanitized, or infused – the function fundamentally remains the same.

Chamber pots two centuries ago. Toilets today. Even Japanese TOTO toilets (the Japanese appear to take the process quite seriously). And no doubt some future variation that makes the experience even more pleasant.

But when it is all said and done, the one thing the technology of waste disposal cannot address is the need to create the waste to begin with. Human beings are fundamentally human, as much as we might like to disguise that simple fact.

In 1933, William Somerset Maugham wrote a book called “Of Human Bondage,” which went to film in 1958. It dramatized the story of how impossible it is to escape our own human dimension. 

Chamber pots are no different. We might like to disguise, introvert, or massage it – but it’s all the same. We are human in all dimensions. And as humans, our humanity is tethered to the fact that we continue to complete the bodily functions our anatomy requires.

I have no interest in using chamber pots – I much prefer a functioning toilet. But, I don’t deny the seeming need human beings have to strive for ever more elegant ways, in the midst of the avalanche of methods we conjure, to come to terms with our humanity.