Wednesday, July 16, 2008

History of Nasalism

If you saw the recent PBS documentary[35] - History of Nasalism - much of this will be familiar to you, but if your knowledge of Nasalism comes only from that film, you are sorely misinformed. It's not easy to criticize a film that includes Denis Haggerty's remarkable footage on the Coribundi Indians[36] and their now-famous picking ritual, not to mention Richard Boynton's fiber-optic studies of crust metabolism and trigeminal excitation,[37] but its repeated reference to me as the "Founder"[38] of our practice seems to me a sacrilege. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Nasalism knows how little I deserve this title.

No mention is made of Klondyke or his extraordinary book, which was published more than a year before my first nasal blog appeared; of Robert Fawck, whom so many have called our spiritual conscience; of the brilliant Kenyan rhinologist, Maggie Ettingoff, who in my view has done more than anyone else to translate Klondyke's basic research into accessible language and form.[39] Nowhere within this supposedly faithful history was there reference to Peggy Ann Taylor's then-scandalous music video,[40] which, when it appeared on MTV, four months before my breakthrough crust arrived, was - according to Viola Brussel's Nasalism and Media[41] - the first time serious Nasalism was seen on television.

[35] PBS, Sherman, M.J. Director, History of Nasalism, September 5, 2017. Now available on, PBS Home Video, my own website:, and

[36] Shown throughout the month of November 2011 on Showtime, currently available on as well as Haggerty's website:, and of course, the website he helped the Coribundi themselves establish,

[37] Boynton, Richard, Crusts in Process, 2010. First shown on National Geographic Cable channel, August 19, 2008. It should be noted that, for all his scientific, technological, and cinematic brilliance, Boynton has been criticized for what Marlin Gilgooley (reviewing the PBS documentary for The Annals of Neurorhinology, in June of 2011 after its theatrical release two months earlier) calls "rhinology so naive that it sends one back to AntiNasalism."

"Perhaps because his background is in rhinology," writes Gilgooley, "the great drama of Boynton's footage occurs in the frontal sinus. No one could argue with his images of crust origination there or with the succeeding images of crust expansion and descent through the superior turbinate and eventual coagulation in the maxilla, but how is it possible that, at this point in time, educated as we've been by Linchak, Fawck, and Klondyke, work financed by the National Institute of Health should ignore the neurophysiology that catalyzes such rhinology? Is Boynton unaware of Nelson Plaque's recent survey of rhinologists which showed that 78.9% thought it more likely that crust formation is initiated in the enteroventral striatum in the midbrain?"

[38] It's true that Sherman is not alone in his misunderstanding. See Janet Hanratty's unauthorized biography of me [Walker Linchak, Authorized (New York: Disney, 2010)] and Ornette Max's profile in Vanity Fair, ("Linchak Reflects," August 2012: 72-74), and, most shocking of all, Yael Kakutani's unfortunate review of my own The Complete Book of Nasalism (New York: Murgate, 2013) in The New York Review of Books (December 16, 2013).

[39] Ettingoff, Margaret. Klondyke and his People (New York: Basic Books, 2008).

[40] Taylor, Peggy Ann. MTV, August 15, 2010.

[41] Brussel, Viola. Nasalism and Media (Los Angeles: UCLA, 2009) 12-24.

[42] Freud, Sigmund. Papers of Sigmund Freud, Library of Congress (Washington, D.C., 2004) 1246-1298. Figure 3.

[43] Akmen, Ari. "Nasal Fossils in the Nile Delta," United Archeology Vol. 78 (Spring 2013) 217-298.