This is the current state of play of my hair. At least that is from last weekend when I was in London, drinking ale with fine friends in the 'Harp' pub nr Charing Cross.
One friend has observed that I look like an elf emerged from the woods.
This longer haired image is a departure for me. Now I know how it fees to have my ears perpetually stroked. Now I have something else to play with when I feel nervous or reflective. I can curl the hairs at the base of my neck around my fingers in the manner of an aspirant wizard. To that end, it might be wondered if I should grow a moustache and beard? To that the answer, at least for now, is no.
In the past, hair washing was a simple straightforward affair-over almost as soon as it began. Now when I wash my hair, it runs through my fingers properly and takes a serious amount of water to be rinsed. I love it when my long hair is wet, the way it becomes, Medusa-like, a sprawling conflagration of snakes and horns. When hair is short, as it usually has been, it might as well not be there, one might think. But now the relevance of my hair pokes its way into my mind on a regular basis, and must be having some real effect on my consciousness and self-relation, though what that might be I'm not sure. Perhaps its fluid and anarchic extravagance, its boisterous langourous hussiness, massages my thought and heart processes in a complementary fashion; or maybe not. The association of short hair with the straightjacketed brain-in-a-box dynamics of the military contrasts in popular imagination with the loose and flappy, or wild and angry, persona of the hippy or ardent rocker. Presumably, these stereotyped characterisations are both simplistic. But are they in any way revealing? Would one be as willing to bow down and kiss Caesar's ring, for example, if his hair flowed out like wine? Wouldn't there indeed be something oddly paradoxical about taking stern orders from such a head of hair? And what does the standard portrayal of Jesus with hanging locks portend? All the nice things I think, in my opinion. I have never seen the crucified and resurrected one - the man from history I most admire and love - as a stern and demanding taskmaster. Trying to manufacture such a Jesus out of the Gospels will require a generous dose of eisegetical nerve. Anyway, it would be nice to get to the bottom of cultural and male motivation for having a trim or not.
I wonder what my long haired readers out there..properly long haired readers, whose hair goes down past the shoulders, male and female, think about how their hair relates to them? In what kind of a crucial, defining way does the length of your hair make you feel about yourself? Upon cutting your hair, would you feel amputated? After having cut your hair, if you have cut it, how did you feel...liberated, bereaved, cleansed, exposed? I wonder if your neck screamed out loud hosannas of thanks? Samson-like, do you feel your strength residing in your hair, or some other essential soul-like quality. Or would you not care overmuch if it all disappeared tomorrow?
The longest I'd grown my hair before was in 1990, when I was 18. Then it never got as long as it has now. I stopped its progress because I was going to Africa and thought that in the heat it would attract irksome sweatiness. But also because it kept on growing outwards and upwards and not downwards in the manner one envisages, as a teen or young man, cool hair should be- thin and straight and vertical, comfortably clenchable by hairband for ponytail. Actually, talking of ponytails on men, in the early 90s, when they were fashionable, I was never that enamoured of them on men. On girls they can be sexy, very-but somehow I'm not taken by them on men that much. I wonder, is there a picture of Jim Morrison anywhere?
Now, I just don't care what happens to my hair. It's an experiment. My worries about being 'cool' or at least not looking 'too strange' have dissolved into the dusty indifference of early middle age. My thoughts about whether or not women will find it attractive founder on the rock of the realisation that throughout my life considerations about what I think women want have had no fertile results. My main objection to my hair is that it seems to want, without my permission- without even asking for my permission- to turn grey. This insolence on its part, reflecting the obnoxious, and one presumes, ever-to-expand development of the deconstructive ageing process, is making me wonder whether I might hide behind the artificial masks of dye. For some reason -or maybe this is particularly in conservative Slovakia- it is thought poor form for ageing men to dye their hair. There is also the point often made that grey hair makes men look 'distinguished'. Well, that may well be, but really what it does is make you look old; and while, of course, there is nothing wrong with either looking or being old (and certainly many real advantages in being old), there perhaps is something nice and good about looking young, especially if that makes you feel young...and especially, moreover, if one is looking, courtesy for example of rebellious hair, old in one's mid thirties.
It's curious but not surprising that nobody would object to a woman's right to dye her hair to combat the march of the grey. I don't even have to ask whether this is fair or not. Of course, women are also more encouraged to be playful colourwise, and from an early age. My dear friend Liz dyes her hair very regularly, various different colours, but nobody thinks this unusual (perhaps the fact that she avoids purples and greens is part of the explanation). Why is it that if I dyed my hair on a regular basis, and maybe even if I dyed my hair just to avoid greyness, society might want to think that I had done something effeminate or even, heaven forbid, gay?
Peculiar. It's the same with clothes. Why don't we think that women who wear trousers are transvestites, when that would be thought of me if I wore a dress? If I wore a dress to work or just out and about (I have no desire to do this as it happens) what would people think? Would they think me gay? Actually I don't see why they would. How many gay men do you know who wear dresses? I don't know any. Probably, they'd think me an aspirant transsexual, or even a fully accomplished one, such as to no longer be a 'man' at all. Or maybe they'd just think me 'very strange'. But my point is that if a woman wears trousers, or a man's shirt or jacket, nobody thinks like this: either that she is a lesbian or that she might want to become a man. Or that she is strange.
It may be thought that the prohibitions against cross-dressing go back to the Old Testament. I don't know about this. Certainly there are references here, I believe, to the inculcation of sartorial conventionality, but that such conventionality and demacation by gender was absent from surrounding non-Israelite cultures, I would highly doubt; so presumably it extends back to earlier than the time of the Mosaic codes.
Basically, I am wondering if there is any concrete rationale for men to wear dresses and skirts, and what that might be? Maybe I should ask the Scots regarding the kilt. Of course, they might want to place a dagger at my throat for even suggesting that a kilt is a skirt. Actually, I know it is not, so they can back off. But we can at least agree that the kilt shares a very similar shape and form to the skirt?
Personally, I would like to wear a kilt, but have not yet done so. As for wearing a dress..this indeed I have done, but only twice. Once dressing up for 'the hell of it' with a friend called Joanna in Surrey, and at another time when I wore a long, flowing purple number at a burlesque style party in the noble cafe of Vennels, Durham city, in the distant past that is 1996.
I've just had a thought. Fewer and fewer women wear skirts and dresses. Why is this? Is this only because women want to make the symbolical statement of their emancipation from patriarchy, or might it just be because women don't like wearing skirts and dresses that much?
Yours awating enlightenment, and with love.