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Scutwork published on

Today’s phrase is “the scutwork of the flesh,” from Alison Bechdel’s pretentious but fascinating graphic memoir Fun Home. She uses the phrase to refer to the minutiae of embalming that her father did when he ran the family funeral home. It’s a perfect word; it sounds foundational and visceral at the same time, as if it involves ploughing through muddy trenches or the furrows of an open abdominal cavity, trudging with dismal work. It also has a Shakespearean sound. “Poor forked creatures…” I think that phrase is from Shakespeare, but I can’t find out wherefrom.

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