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August 17, 2005

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Patrick J. Mullins

Those aren't the best places to get prime rib, nor steak either. Since most of the Tad's Steaks went out of business in the 70's--and I only went once anyway to the one on 72nd Street--I've tended to use businessman restaurants like the Bull & Bear for Prime Rib or just settle for filet at the Pierre, La Caravelle (now closed)or Rene Pujol.

Lynn

My long time haircut guy got cancer. I spent six months getting haircuts from other guys while he recovered. By the time he returned I had established other relationships. How was I to know he was Lazarus?

The whole episode still breaks my heart. I still think of him often and fondly. I doubt if he feels the same.

Kim Dot Dammit

My most sincere condolences. Shit. I HATE when I get a bad haircut. It just fucks me up for the two months (or TWO YEARS as in the Last Bad Haircut Incident) that it takes to grow out. Nothing wrong with wigs.

Bill Wilson

The great meditation on Modernism (as Constructivism) ends with a woman's hair:

Wallace Stevens - Of Modern Poetry


The poem of the mind in the act of finding
What will suffice. It has not always had
To find: the scene was set; it repeated what
Was in the script.
Then the theatre was changed
To something else. Its past was a souvenir.

It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.
It has to face the men of the time and to meet
The women of the time. It has to think about war
And it has to find what will suffice. It has
To construct a new stage. It has to be on that stage,
And, like an insatiable actor, slowly and
With meditation, speak words that in the ear,
In the delicatest ear of the mind, repeat,
Exactly, that which it wants to hear, at the sound
Of which, an invisible audience listens,
Not to the play, but to itself, expressed
In an emotion as of two people, as of two
Emotions becoming one. The actor is
A metaphysician in the dark, twanging
An instrument, twanging a wiry string that gives
Sounds passing through sudden rightnesses, wholly
Containing the mind, below which it cannot descend,
Beyond which it has no will to rise.
It must
Be the finding of a satisfaction, and may
Be of a man skating, a woman dancing, a woman
Combing. The poem of the act of the mind.

Hair is meaningful in too many ways to count. On one plane, the style and condition of the hair are legible signs that can be decoded as information about pubic hair and its environs. Elizabeth I is said to have worn a merkin, i.e. a wig for the pubic area. Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock plays with relations between hair on the head and hair at the groin. Belinda laments that a lock of her hair has been stolen: "Oh hadst thou, Cruel! been content to seize/ Hairs less in sight, or any hairs but these!" On another plane, hair is to the head as the imagination is to the mind. A style of hair can be an image of the style of the imagination: bouffant hair above a bouffant brain, perhaps, but then people do let their hair down sometimes. Hair comes between the brain and the sun, the way the imagination comes between the mind and reality. Priests and other persons capable of mediating with a transcendental God have often left their heads bare, or tonsured, claiming no imaginative images between their soul-minds and God, their raw bald heads suggesting unmediated relations with the reality of God. Other religious never cut their hair, submissive to the will of the Tranescendental God who acts through natural forces. In Middlemarch, a woman whose hair has been her pride learns that her husband is a public disgrace, therefore she goes upstairs to arrange her luxurious hair in a severe knot. Woody Allen's film, Manhattan, follows the contrasts between the hair of Mariel Hemingway and of Diane Keaton. Hair is obviously thematic when it must be stylized for a play or a movie wherein the style of hair is a farther elaboration of the other stylizations, and clarifies the characterizations: the Devil has been a red-head, a red-head has been a devil. One expects Donald Sutherland and Simone Signoret to let their hair go gray, to allow truth to do its work in their art. A man who performs the news like Sam Donaldson is as dubious as his hair color. Gerald Ford was said to have said that Ronald Reagan didn't dye his hair, it was just prematurely orange. When Socrates is approaching execution by suicide, as Phaedo reports: "Now he had a way of playing with my hair, and then he smoothed my head, and pressed the hair upon my neck, and said: To-morrow, Phaedo, I suppose that these fair locks of yours will be severed [as a sign of grief]." More piquantly, Parmenides asks the young Socrates if every ordinary something has an eternal essence or pure form (a criterion-idea by which the actual is judged): "And would you feel equally undecided, Socrates, about things of which the mention may provoke a smile?-- I mean such things as hair, mud, dirt, or anything else which is vile and paltry; would you suppose that each of these has an idea distinct from the actual objects with which we come into contact, or not?" John Milton judged that a man's hair should not extend beneath the shoulders. Compare the Roundheads whose laboring encouraged short hair. How`did factory work in wartime change the styles and lengths of women's hair? My point: People think with hair, and think with images of hair, whether or not they know it. I think that we do well to know it, especially upon the approach of various fundamentalist religions with prescriptions for how to wear hair. But note that Mohammed Atta was exempted from some religious strictures, and wore his hair short, apparently legible for reading as the image of an idea, but actually rigged for misreading.

Kareem Harper

Wow! I'm speechless, I really am. Wow!

I think your son doesn't yet understand the trauma of having to walk around with a horrible haircut among peers... I still have nightmares of when I decided to bleach my hair... horrible nightmares.

Jodi

Bill--incredible short excursus on hair through the ages. Engrossing. I kept trying to interpret my own hair issues through the snippets you provide. Alas, to no avail. I'm stuck on my own reluctance to change and my partner's initial remark, 'well, retro late 80s is supposed to be big this year..."

Bill Wilson

A director of a play/movie would prescribe a hair-do that was a farther and minute elaboration of the large theme of the fiction to be made visual. A make-up artist or hair-handler would have to devise a hair-do that both fit the face of the actor, bodied forth the character the actor was representing, and exemplified the style of the whole production as it conveyed the meanings and values of an era and a place. A hair-do in a dramatic fiction can be an image of the exemptions expected or owed to a character. John Waters chronicles the hair-dos and hair-don'ts of Baltimore, at least when a competition among hair-dos was occurring. When hair becomes so ornamental, it takes on the function of ornaments and jewelry, which is to cloth the soul the way flesh clothes the bones (Levi-Strauss). The ornate hair-dogs of Baltimore look gleeful, but may reveal unspeakable fears and dreads that are indeed not spoken of. Look at the military photographs of women soldiers killed in Baghdad, and read both their self-denials and their expectation of no exemptions to them because of being women. Look at people in travesty, or at transgendered persons, to read what they want their hair to convey, usually a hopeful report on the condition of more erotic hair at the groin. Look at women of Arabia and of Islam, with their adjustments of degrees of fundamentalism in tension with degrees of emancipations, semaphored by visible hair or absence of hair. Most of all, revisit Truffaut's Day for Night to see the specific and precise expressiveness of a blue vase, a nothing-special car, and especially a series of wigs, as the J. Bisset character, preparing as a performer, must be fitted with one wig from among several subtly different wigs. The moral is to look in the mirror and to ask what the old hair-cut would have exempted you from, and what it might have opened you up to, and then, understandably bothered by a hairdresser prescribing different exemptions and different possibilities, nevertheless see if you might not want to play the part the hair-cutter has tried to direct you into playing.

I have to write this somewhere, as I roam some weblogs to study the language: I am shocked by gentlemen of liberal enlightened politics who record their taste for steak, ribs of beef, and hamburgers. I am sure that they are good feminists to a man, and worry about ecology and rainforests, but now I worry about them. Why not veal? Why not foie gras? Or, why not extend their politics to the food they eat? They seem to exempt themselves from some responsibilities, but how long are their exemptions going to last?

Patrick J. Mullins

This actually comes as little surprise, but one does wonder exactly how it came about. Vaguely one knows, so that may be enough.

Patrick J. Mullins

(I think it's obvious enough that previous comment was not referring to the official document of the space.)

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