A Hat Thought

In the real world, one of the things I am known for, I suppose, is my tendency to wear classic hats - fedoras, porkpies, caps, even a bowler, now and again. I think there are so many good reasons for wearing them - protection, warmth, shade, the soft feeling of a good felt, and, perhaps best of all, the fact that tipping (or doffing) one's hat is, it seems to me, the last sign of respect which can both excite joy, and never offend. Everyone understands and accepts the hat-tip as a sign of respect, and it's a wonderful thing.

So I've been thinking - why has this wonderful thing disappeared. Somehow, this idea got mixed up in my mind with thoughts of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest (accidental thought collisions are probably the only thing responsible for my limited creativity) and I realized that, among other things, that is a story of height - the narrator sees himself as small, even though he is huge, and sees the imposing nurse as huge, until the protagonist restores the narrator's faith in himself, and the narrator sees himself as big. We've all experienced this, a feeling of elevation when we are "winning" because height and size are power, in our common metaphoric structures. (Great Lakoff tie-in)

So, the thougt occurs - a hat, especially the bowler, looks rather rediculous on a short man, yet few can disagree with the look of it on a tall man. Even more so with the fedora (though it does not look as silly on the short man). Could it be that the disappearance of hats is symptomatic of the disappearance of the can-do culture. Think about it - which culture still has the can-do attitude in America? Cowboy culture, perhaps? And which culture still wears hats, in the traditional sense? Even more curiously, isn't a bare head associated with shame, even biblically? Think about crowns in cultures across the word, and laurel wreaths. Interesting, interesting, interesting.

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