Deconstructing my Haircut
Perhaps a experience to share? Well I needed a haircut, from a personal level I hate haircuts, the whole barber experience, the need for small talk, the silence. Although always brief, it has it’s own time, like the eternal wait in the patients lounge. I experienced today another haircut, another time to put my head in someone else’s hands, this time however I have reflected on the experience and will try to deconstruct the text, share my interpretation of the encounter, look into it’s eyes.
It began as normal, the short wait whilst the current incumbent relished his interaction and gladly paid the price, sporting an affective outcome. Beckoned to the “chair” by the 30ish hirsute man, myself and my condemned locks, lolloped over and defined the desired result, and plumped, slumped, poured carcasely into my Lacanian mirror, shocking as always.
“What shall it be” was the opening gambit? Conscious of my desire for silence I stated “Short, number 1 back and sides and short on top”, this was my favoured condition for my hair, short, short so that it needs no combing, short and to the point. The barber acquiesced, appointed the various barbaristic apparatus around my attire, selected the trimmer and began to hack away, black and grey fluffy ex-hair tumbled into my lap.
Let the discourse begin.
“Going anywhere nice for summer?” – “Spain” – “When?” – “August” – ” oh hot”, then I let me guard slip and succumb to his bait “Well it is a dry heat, it is always worse when it is humid”
Then I became the source of the discussion “What about the elections next week, they are going to get a bit of a beating, I had a conservative candidate around and I told him I was going to vote Anarchist..” I paused, the relationship was not established, I had perhaps given too much away of my intentions, I adjusted the negotiation … “or green party”.
“oh yeah, that is next week innit…”
“with all that scandal around their expenses they are in for a kicking”
“they are all the bloody same, I don’t vote, I used to vote Labour but now..” he paused perhaps assessing the risk her was taking, perhaps defining himself politically would be a dangerous move …. ” … I don’t vote” let continued and perhaps indicated a little of his intent ” well I have a mate, he is real labour, through and through, well to wind him up I said I was going to vote BNP, he went really mad, really ,mad….” pause for effect, affect? I think he could detect something, I wanted to come back at him, back up the labour voter, but my hair was in his hands, his eyes were engaged in his own story, the number 1 clipper yet to finish the left hand side, I said nothing with my voice, but there were other ways I was communicating.
Further the barber explloed “The papers, sometimes they get it right, sometimes wrong, .. they say they have almost found Madeline McCann, they won’t say what…. and that mother who killed baby P – two years – a disgrace…” me now “she needs to have a lot of physciatric help, anyone who does that is not well…” – “needs putting to sleep she does” retored, continued “and in France, child kidnapping is rife, all those Algerians, here I remember years ago, my mother would leave us all in prams outside the shops, grouped together with all the other mums” – “you can do that now” said I “it is just a fear factor”.
The haircut was complete and he tailed of his work with the double Lacanain view of the back of my head whilst looking directly at myself, I was pleased with the result, pleased it was over quickly, yet the discussion left me in a strange in-between ness, unsure of where I was, what his view of me as a customer, human, person, was. I paid, left, walked, reacted and thought.
The first response to the encounter was perhaps that of an emotional response, angry that people had these views, racist, media driven closed. Then I started thinking where I was, unchallenging, passive, careful. I was a customer, wanting a service, not wanting the extra “something for the weekend”, yet perhaps I did, a desire to engage? I did engage, but felt that the negotiation was more that that dispelled by the vendor. Thinking about him, again perhaps what he was saying was for me, thinking of his customer, what to they want to hear? By condemning him as racist I did not see my complicit part in his action, if I perceived him as racist, stupid etc. then is it not me who is receiving what he thought I needed to hear. Is he the barber just the messenger of the symbolic Other of the media and the state. It is not him, I am responsible for making him force the discourse, he told me what he thought I was wanting to hear. Perhaps is reality he sees me as the racist? Fantasising him at home “they are all the same, all they want to talk about is the same”, the negotiation has left us both in a position of distrust, a neagive outcome perhaps, but due to the power relation of cutter, courted, the discourse is on a quicksand and to survive the encounter there are islands if refuge where you think the natives are.
As from Stonarch and Maclure, in the post modern reading of Hannah Cullwick are we not in discourse and negociation the following:-
We suggest to that Hannah too can be read as a shape -changer and a trickster figure: a mistress in disguise, simulation and dissimulation; a boundary dweller who lived, painfully but irresolvable in-between the binary oppositions that structure Enlightenment thought – private/public, wife/servant, master/slave, clean/dirty, man woman, personal/social, high/low, self/other, appearance/reality. And because of this unresolvable in-between-ness, we suggest, Hannah too is a transgressive figure, an eccentric subject, liable to trouble and destabilise the foundational categories that shore up or theories of class, culture, subjectivity, sexuality and identity.
In all of our encounters, porfessionally, personally, individually are we not all this shape-shifter? We will never find the answer to the question, we will never know the question, this is the failure that is needed to succeed, a success that we will never attain.