Home > Rants > I am Nirak, and I’m a member of the Nacirema.

I am Nirak, and I’m a member of the Nacirema.

            In 1956, Horace Miner wrote an ethnography called, “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema,” in which he detailed some of the horrifying rituals these people practiced. Highlights included a twice-monthly ritual in which the women would go to a special facility and have their heads baked in ovens, a summary of the “holy-mouth-man” and his ceremonial/torture instruments, and the daily beautification rituals of the men.

            I am Nirak, and I’m a member of the Nacirema.

            “The Nacirema have an almost pathological horror of and fascination with the mouth, the condition of which is believed to have a supernatural influence on all social relationships,” Miner wrote. “Were it not for the rituals of the mouth, they believe that their teeth would fall out, their gums bleed, their jaws shrink, their friends desert them, and their lovers reject them.” In short, this is a people with an absolute fixation on all things oral.

            …do you get the joke yet? Miner was my kind of humorist, to be sure.

            I had my teeth whitened yesterday in preparation for my mother’s upcoming wedding, and let me just say this: never again. While I did get a new dentist out of it (which I needed to do like six months ago), the procedure was kind of right up there discomfort-wise with getting braces put on, having cavities drilled, and choking all at once.

            They coated my gums with this stuff that hardened under UV light before they did the chemical treatment so as to protect my gums from searing pain. After that, it was three 15 minute sessions of bleaching. The tech painted the bleaching compound onto my teeth, then set me up under a light and heat machine…the technical name of which escapes me…for the chemicals to take effect.

            About five minutes into the first session, it occurred to me that I was pretty much gazing into the eyes of a radioactive cow skull. Those of you who have been through this will totally know what I’m talking about, here. And it pretty much reminded me of the head ovens used by the Nacirema women, which, consequently, also remind me of cow skulls.

            And maybe, just maybe, I have an odd way of relating things to skulls because my dad and uncle used to collect roadkill when I was young. And maybe, just maybe, I was the only girl for miles around who had no problem being in the same room with a bunch of skulls that were, sadly, not radioactive.

            Long story short, thanks to the radioactive cow skull, I now have blindingly white teeth. Win? I guess?

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Categories: Rants
  1. July 13, 2011 at 11:43 am

    For anyone interested in the entire essay, here’s a link to Miner’s piece: https://www.msu.edu/~jdowell/miner.html?pagewanted=all

  2. July 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Eeet eez better to look mahvalous, dan eet eez to feel mahvalous, dahling! Yoo look MAHVALOUS!!!

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