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Here is an excerpt of a manifesto on the merits of shit, by the architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

The French version of this text was first posted on : in 2004

The English translation has been adapted by André Leguerrier and posted on 2017-08-16

Update: 2017-08-16

Shit Culture – The Holy Shit

Excerpt from the manifesto « Scheißkultur. Die heilige Scheiße »

Vegetation needed millions of years to cover the sludge, the toxic substances, with a layer of humus, a layer of vegetation and a layer of oxygen, so that man may live on earth.

And this ungrateful man brings back to light these same poisonous substances that had been covered through long and tedious cosmic labour. By the misdeed of irresponsible man, the end of the world will be like the beginning of times. We are committing suicide. Our cities are cancerous ulcers. This is clearly visible from above. We do not eat what grows in our own country, but import our food from far away, from Africa, America, China and New Zealand. We do not keep our shit for ourselves. It is washed far away, polluting rivers, lakes and seas, or it is sent to highly complex and costly purification plants, seldom to centralised composting factories. Or it is destroyed. Our shit never returns to our fields and never returns there where our food came from. The cycle from food to shit is working. The cycle from shit to food has been broken.

We have a misconception of our waste.

Every time we flush the toilet, thinking it a hygienic action, we violate cosmic law. For in truth it is a godless deed, a wanton act of death. When we go to the toilet, lock ourselves in and flush away our shit, we end it all. Why are we ashamed? What are we afraid of? That which actually happens to our shit afterwards is something we repulse, like death. The toilet hole seems to us like the gateway to death: we want to get away as fast as we can, forget the decay and putrefaction. But we are quite wrong. It is with shit that life first begins. Shit is much more important than food. Food only nourishes mankind that increases in quantity, diminishes in quality and has become a deadly threat to the Earth, a deadly threat to vegetation, the animal world, water, air, the humus layer.

Shit is the building block of our resurrection.

As far back as man can remember, he has sought immortality. Man wants to have a soul. Shit is our soul. Shit enables us to survive. Shit makes us immortal. Why are we afraid of death? Whomever uses a humus toilet is not afraid of death, for our shit makes future life and our regeneration possible. If we fail to value our shit and turn it into humus to the glory of God and the world, we lose our right to be present on this Earth.

In the name of false hygienic laws, we lose our cosmic substance, we lose our regeneration. Filth is life. Sterile cleanliness is death. (Editorial comment: all disinfectants are biocides, lifekillers.) Thou shalt not kill, and yet we sterilize all life with poison and a layer of concrete. This is murder. Man is just a tube. On the one side he puts things in, on the other side they come out again, more or less digested. The mouth is at the front, the anus at the back. Why? It should be the other way around. Why is eating positive? Why is shit negative? What comes out of us is not waste, but the material from which the world is made, our gold, our blood. We bleed to death, our civilization is bleeding to death. Our earth is bleeding to death by the insane interruption of the cycle. Whomever bleeds simply loses blood. If the blood is not replaced with new blood, he will bleed to death.

Freud was right when he said, in his interpretation of dreams, that shit is a synonym for gold. We must now realize that it is not just a dream, but a reality. When Passolini had actors eat shit in a film, it was a symbol of the continuation of the cycle, a desperate short cut. We must devote the same love, time and attention to what comes out from « behind » as to what enters « in front ». The same ceremony as for meals, with table-laying, knives, forks and spoons, chopsticks, silver cutlery and candle-light. We say grace before and after meals. No one says grace when they shit. We thank God for our daily bread, which comes from the Earth. But we do not pray that our shit becomes earth again.

Waste is beautiful. The sorting and reintegration of waste is a joyous activity, an activity that takes place not in cellars and backyards, on dung-heaps and in toilets, but there where we dwell, where there is light and sunshine: in our living rooms, in our parlours.

There is no such thing as waste. Waste does not exist.

The humus toilet is a status symbol. We have the privilege of being witnesses, with the help of our own wisdom, to the transformation of our own waste, our own shit into humus; just as a tree grows and the harvest ripens. At home with us, as if it were our own child. Homo – humus – humanitas, three fateful words with the same origin. Humus is true black gold. Humus has a good smell. The fragrance of humus is holy and closer to God than that of incense.

Anyone who walks in the woods after the rain knows its smell. Of course it is a bit shocking when the waste bin is placed in the centre of our apartment and that the humus toilet becomes the seat of honour, the most beautiful place. But this is precisely the about-turn that our society, our civilization must now make if it is to survive. The smell of humus is the smell of God, the smell of resurrection, the smell of immortality.

By Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Algajola, Venice, New-Zealand, 1979-1980



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