PROCLAMATION OF YOUR HAT.

I had intended to post a translation of this excellent post (“о норме”: ‘on the norm’) over at Anatoly Vorobey’s blog, but my computer crashed when I was almost done, and I don’t have the heart to do it all over again, so I’ll just say that he’s explaining the poor correspondence between the alleged “rules” propagated by alleged purists and the actual rules of the language, and pointing out that the situation in Russia is still worse because there even the linguists largely subscribe to the shibboleths—a sad situation indeed. (And I note comments in the thread like one saying sure, there are educated people who use the “illiterate” verb ложить, just as there are educated people who consult horoscopes, and I sigh.)
Anyway, John Emerson in this thread kindly links to a post by Rohan Maitzen at The Valve, Make loudest possible proclamation of your Hat!, and I enjoyed it so much that as a substitute I will copy the passage from Carlyle found there:

Consider, for example, that great Hat seven-feet high, which now perambulates London Streets. . . The Hatter in the Strand of London, instead of making better felt-hats than another, mounts a huge lath-and-plaster Hat, seven-feet high, upon wheels; sends a man to drive it through the streets, hoping to be saved thereby. He has not attempted to make better hats, as he was appointed by the Universe to do, and as with this ingenuity of his he could very probably have done; but his whole industry is turned to persuade us that he has made such! He too knows that the Quack has become God. Laugh not at him, O reader; or do not laugh only. He has ceased to be comic; he is fast becoming tragic. To me this all-deafening blast of Puffery, of poor Falsehood grown necessitous, of poor Heart-Atheism fallen now into Enchanted Workhouses, sounds too surely like a Doom’s-blast! . . .
We take it for granted, the most rigorous of us, that all men who have made anything are expected and entitled to make the loudest possible proclamation of it, and call on a discerning public to reward them for it. Every man his own trumpeter; that is, to a really alarming extent, the accepted rule. Make loudest possible proclamation of your Hat: true proclamation if that will do; if that will not do, then false proclamation,—to such extent of falsity as will serve your purpose; as will not seem too false to be credible!

I have long since made proclamation of my Hats, and I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, that there are not finer hats in the realm!

Comments

  1. Is there a word for hat envy? I am almost entirely hatless, as off-the-rack hats are never big enough for my head, and having them custom-made is beyond my purse. I have an XXXOS sort of sized cricket hat which I squeeze on to my head in extreme sunshine, but that’s it.

  2. I do not like hats at all, but I recognize that some do, and despite their foolishness, I still love them according to their nature.

  3. I do not like hats at all, but I recognize that some do, and despite their foolishness, I still love them according to their nature.

  4. i thought how come i never read Russian blogs
    glad to find a nice one, thanks

  5. Towards the beginning of one of Ronald Firbanks’s novels, I thinkThe Flower Beneath the Foot, there is a scene in the royal chambers. The King and Queen are rather bored. She is complaining about various indispositions, and the Royal Physician is fussing over her. The Queen says to a maid: “Take out these earrings, they tire me.” The King, piqued at not getting his share of medical attention, tries to top that with a symptom of his own: “Whenever I go out, I have an impression of raised hats!”.

  6. Forgive the boast, but I own Carlyle’s smoking cap. I once lent it to a chum who was writing his PhD on Carlyle and suffering writer’s block. It worked.

  7. I have just more or less completed a complicated house-move, but my books are still in storage. That’s why I couldn’t check the Firbank. Here is the passage, recovered from the internet (“Firbank”, “earrings”). It’s a long excerpt. But I promise I won’t say another word about hats.

    “There is sunshine, ma’am … and you have your anemones on …” the Countess cajoled, “and to please the people, you ought indeed to squeeze him.” And she was begging and persuading the Queen to rise, as the King entered the room preceded by a shapely page (of sixteen) with cheeks fresher than milk.

    “Go to the window, Willie,” the Queen exhorted her Consort fixing an eye on the last trouser button that adorned his long, straggling legs.

    The King, who had the air of a tired pastry-cook, sat down.

    “We feel,” he said, “to-day, we’ve had our fill of stares!”

    “One little bow, Willie,” the Queen entreated, “that wouldn’t kill you.”

    “We’d give perfect worlds,” the King went on, “to go, by Ourselves, to bed.”

    “Get rid of the noise for me. Quiet them. Or I’ll be too ill,” the Queen declared, “to leave my room to-night!”

    “Should I summon Whisky, Marm?” the Countess asked, but before there was time to reply the Court physician, Dr. Cuncliffe Babcock, was announced.

    “I feel I’ve had a relapse, Doctor,” her Dreaminess declared.

    Dr Babcock beamed: he had one blind eye – though this did not prevent him at all from seeing all that was going on with the other.

    “Leave it to me, Madam,” he assured, “and I shall pick you up in no time!”

    “Not Johnnie, doctor!” the Queen murmured with a grimace. For a glass of Johnnie Walker at bed-time was the great doctor’s favourite receipt.

    “No; something a little stronger, I think.”

    “We need expert attention, too,” the King intervened.

    “You certainly are somewhat pale, sir.”

    “Whenever I go out,” the King complained, “I get an impression of raised hats.”

    It was seldom King William of Pisuerga spoke in the singular tense, and Doctor Babcock looked perturbed.
    “Raised hats, sir?” he murmured in impressive tones.

    “Nude heads, doctor.”

    The Queen commenced to fidget. She disliked that the King should appear more interesting than herself.

    “These earrings tire me,” she said, “take them out.”

  8. AJP Crown says:

    I once lent it to a chum who was writing his PhD on Carlyle and…
    I thought you were going to say his housemaid threw it on the fire.
    What do people think of Fassbinder’s characteristic trilby and Ray-Bans? I wonder if he got the hat from Joseph Beuys. It is an unlikely combo that worked for him. I suspect it wouldn’t work for many others. Beuys always included some (animal fat and) felt in his works, see here under ‘Early Life’.

  9. AJP Crown says:

    I have long since made proclamation of my Hats, and I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, that there are not finer hats in the realm!
    You say there that you will show pictures of the actual Hats. That was in 2003. I think you also ought to add a picture of yourself, but I somehow feel sure you won’t do so. By the way, the Elizabeth Bishop link doesn’t work anymore.

  10. Roger Depledge says:

    I hadn’t come across the “educated people who consult horoscopes” analogy before. How exactly would one rebut it in discussion with someone who wasn’t already converted?

  11. “Should I summon Whisky, Marm?” the Countess asked
    Interesting. It is now Mam (“as in ham, not Marm as in farm” as the equerry said in The Queen).

  12. AJP Crown says:

    I noticed that too.

  13. AJP Crown says:

    Over the past week or so Grumbly has changed his name from Grumleby, revealed that he is a Texan, of all things, a Ronald Firbank reader living in Køln, with a good (sorry) knowledge of German. He has a brother who is currently in prison for tax evasion — what’s next Grumbly? Can you keep this up?

  14. I can tell that he was born… Hungarian!

  15. And yes, I should really get around to adding pictures.

  16. How funny that everyone noticed “Marm”. I double-checked extra-special on that when I was copying out the passage from googlebooks.
    Shucks, AJP, how kind of you to notice! I took over “Grumbly” from JE, after having the pants teased off me. There’s probably more consternation to come. Can’t help it, really. At 60 since yesterday (Happy birthday to G.!), it all adds up over the years.
    Let’s see, now … I once came third in the El Paso spelling bee.

  17. Does it seem to anyone else like the OED’s

    In 1936, R. W. Chapman (S.P.E. Tract II. 241) observed that ‘Except to royal persons, the contraction (whether mahm or măm) seems to be going out.’

    really ought to be XLVII?

  18. Here is a tip for those of you who eat food.
    Jamessal’s girlfriend Robin has a really good food blog, as some people probably know (in fact I’m making her roast chicken recipe tonight). So now Jamessal himself has a competition going, post your own poem about food in the Comments and win an exotic piece of cookware. It’s made for you lot, write a poem win a pot.
    And now back to your regular programming…

  19. I second Crown’s recommendation of both blog and contest.
    Also, happy birthday, Grumbly! Nice to meet a fellow geezer. I’ll buy you a drink next time you’re in Hadley, Mass.

  20. michael farris says:

    “(And I note comments in the thread like one saying sure, there are educated people who use the “illiterate” verb ложить, just as there are educated people who consult horoscopes, and I sigh.)”
    I say we take this one back, let’s rephrase this:
    “Sure, there are some educated people who believe in silly prescriptivist rules that have basis in reality, just as there are educated people who consult horoscopes.”

  21. Thanks, Hat. I am rather partial to a good Margarita. They’re hard to come by in Tschoimany. The next time you see one shimmering in its salt, pity the poor emigrant.
    My favorite foodpoem in the competition so far is:

    Herbs cook quickly in a wok.

    It’s not only Chinese — how fast

    Thyme fries.

  22. What is this reality I’ve been hearing so much about lately? It’s enough to make a guy seriously consider taking up dancing lessons with Noetica. I’m not sure Noetica would take me on – though a kindly eye was cast on my tumbler recently. I have the spirit, nevertheless, if not the cartloads of souliers that I would wear out before I could say: “See you in Covent Garden” and know that I wouldn’t wait in vain.
    And yet, and yet … I’m with Hat on this one.

  23. AJP Crown says:

    I’m sure they’d consider food poems auf Deutsch, Grumbly, something nostalgic about curriwørst on the barbecue down by the old homestead. And Happy Birthday.

  24. Somebody is teasing me again, I just know. Ich hab’s im Urin, as the Germans say – a very earthy lot, don’t you think?

    Die Angler waren diesmal fündig:

    Ein Fest des Meeres, kurz und bündig!

    In der Pfanne, auf dem Grill,

    brutzelt frisch gefang’ner Krill.

    Nebenher wird Sud geseiht:

    Sellerie-, Lauch- und Möhrengeist.

    Die Scholle bräunt schon in Panade,

    Von weitem naht die Remoulade.

    usw.

  25. AJP Crown says:

    No one’s teasing you, I talk like that to everyone. Ok, now just get rid of the ‘usw’. and turn it in.

  26. Nothing wrong with teasing. I’ve just been so goddamn touchy lately. Obstipation of some kind, I don’t doubt.

  27. AJP Crown says:

    I’m touchy, we’re all touchy except Language and MMcM..

  28. How dare you say I’m not touchy, goddammit!

  29. AJP Crown says:

    …and Siganus Sutor. And Bulbul. Even Language was touchy once. Or twice, maybe.

  30. AJP Crown says:

    There, I’ve said it.

  31. AJP Crown says:

    Obstipation
    Don’t eat all that German fruit.

  32. I’m touchy, we’re all touchy except Language and MMcM..
    Enquiring minds wish to know: How do you know this? I’m also wondering if the use of “belief” as a verb in the cooking blog you linked to is familiar to other LH readers. It was new to me.

  33. Kron, people have been saying some things about you behind your back, and I was wondering whether, as a friend I should tell you what they’ve been saying.
    But then I thought again, and decided that that would be spreading gossip and sowing discord, and I decided to keep the peace by remaining silent.

  34. Kron, people have been saying some things about you behind your back, and I was wondering whether, as a friend I should tell you what they’ve been saying.
    But then I thought again, and decided that that would be spreading gossip and sowing discord, and I decided to keep the peace by remaining silent.

  35. Stuart: He just makes it up, a practice that is (sadly) all too common among the pernicious commenting class. You should take everything you read here with a grain or three of salt. Unless of course I say it, in which case it’s unimpeachable.
    Hey, stop throwing those peaches!

  36. Stuart: He just makes it up No, really?! I’m shocked, absolutely shocked to learn that lies do not make our Crown uneasy.

  37. marie-lucie says:

    LH, the “he” in “he just makes it up” is ambiguous, like all 3rd person pronouns. I assume you mean John Emerson, a master at this game (keep it up, JE).

  38. Crown, Hat: Thanks for the recommendations! You guys are the best!
    Grumbly: Good to hear your favorite poem; I’ll take it into account.
    Stuart: I just skimmed the most recent entries and couldn’t find “belief” as a verb — where is it?

  39. komfo,amonan says:

    komfo~amonan, ex-cartographer, is envisioning a map where countries are colored according to how prescriptivistic [?] their linguists are.

  40. The prescriptivist tendency seems to transcend gender, so I suggest that you avoid the use of pink and blue.

  41. Stuart: I just skimmed the most recent entries and couldn’t find “belief” as a verb — where is it?
    From the “About” page:
    …she hopes that others will understand that her decision to belief in nothing is no less of a right.

  42. Really, an excellent conceit, komfo,amonan! I once possessed an elegant foulard, couleur merde d’oie. That should fit in. And various hues of bilious green and intransigent brown. To set off the whole, a really loud red.
    On further thought, since it’s not so much regional, as a question of altitude on the social scale – perhaps an isotwit map?

  43. Touchy? Moi? Pah. I am the most tough-skinned of commentators. In any case, is The Queen really reliable on the contextual pronunciation of Ma’am? After all, it shows the title character actually offering her hand to be kissed (which Tony Blair duly does), which as I understand has not been done for several generations, though the term “kiss hands” has been retained.

  44. AJP Crown says:

    Oh, no. I see others have been reading my comments. Imagine my embarrassment.
    Stuart, you prescriptivist: if you don’t watch out, Robin’s going to start posting on how to make a couple of kiwis last a week. Roast kiwi, warmed-up kiwi, cold kiwi, kiwi sandwich, kiwi soup, kiwi surprise (no kiwi)…
    John Cowan, you aren’t touchy.

  45. AJP Crown says:

    komfo~amonan, ex-cartographer: you could start with a map of Language Hat, where comments are colored according to how proscriptionistical they were.

  46. AJP Crown says:

    Language is right, by the way, take it all with a grain of salt. Nobody’s touchy here. i shouldn’t drink and comment, probably.

  47. We’ll still be talking about you behind your back regardless, Corona.

  48. We’ll still be talking about you behind your back regardless, Corona.

  49. I’m not touchy. I am occasionally feely.

  50. AJP Crown says:

    Dearieme, you’re not touchy. I really just meant Emerson.
    I certainly hope you talk about me, Emerson, whether it’s behind my back or in front of it. Actually, all I said was a bunch of people aren’t touchy and immediately a bunch of other people appear saying ‘How dare you say I’m touchy!’ Proving? Well, proving they are, in fact, a teeny bit… touchy.

  51. Chill, dude.

  52. Chill, dude.

  53. komfo,amonan says:

    Isotwit! I’m gonna help myself to that one.

  54. AJP Crown says:

    Isotwit?

  55. Can I cite AJP for using unconscionably vile abusive language? I would have thought that “preecriptivist” would be the N-Word on a blog like this one. At least I can revel in my newfound editorial powers – a passing query about an unusual usage gets in a whole paragraph of someone else’s blog rewritten. I feel like Ozymandias.

  56. And to get back to hats, there is the scene in the boardroom in the middle of Monte Python’s The Meaning of Life:
    CHAIRMAN: …Which brings us once again to the urgent realisation of just how much there is still left to own. Item six on the agenda: the meaning of life. Now, uh, Harry, you’ve had some thoughts on this.
    HARRY: That’s right. Yeah, I’ve had a team working on this over the past few weeks, and, uh, what we’ve come up with can be reduced to two fundamental concepts. One: people are not wearing enough hats. Two: matter is energy. In the universe, there are many energy fields which we cannot normally perceive. Some energies have a spiritual source which act upon a person’s soul. However, this soul does not exist ab initio, as orthodox Christianity teaches. It has to be brought into existence by a process of guided self-observation. However, this is rarely achieved, owing to man’s unique ability to be distracted from spiritual matters by everyday trivia.
    [pause]
    BERT: What was that about hats, again?

  57. Stuart (aka Ozymandias): Ha! I’m guessing she must have written that “about” section a while ago, because apparently after I told her about the typo she just took out the whole paragraph. I’m gonna go tease her!

  58. Let’s not let our Hat power go to our heads, boys.

  59. Let’s not let our Hat power go to our heads, boys.

  60. she just took out the whole paragraph
    Someone commented fairly recently about how much they connected with what she said about religion in the “about” page”. Snce I don’t cook, I thought the “about” page was one of the more interesting parts of the blog. That and the photography. I don’t know how she gets the utensils to turn blue or the focus to be on the exact part of whatever she is photographing, while something even one inch away is out of focus.

  61. AJP Crown says:

    Stuart, my vile and abusive language has nothing to do with your being an Arsenal supporter. Absolutely nothing. I completely understand. You have a right to support any team you wish. Including Arsenal.
    What, by the way, is ‘the N-word’?

  62. AJP Crown says:

    Oh, it’s ‘nigger’, of course. Sorry. Brain not yet functioning.

  63. Snce I don’t cook, I thought the “about” page was one of the more interesting parts of the blog.
    It’s still there, the “about” page. Just minus one graph about atheism — which, though she still believes it, Robin decided wasn’t really the most apposite bit of info to introduce her food blog. I agreed: she’s mentioned her atheism only handful of times throughout two years of blogging.
    We’re sorry you don’t find the food interesting, but the photography is an important element too. I’m sure Robin would talk to you about it if you stopped by. The atheism, too.

  64. Well, I can’t say Hat didn’t warn me — “Let’s not let our Hat power go to our heads, boys” — but you guys got me in trouble!
    From the new “about” section:
    “Robin is a very liberal atheist. She has also demoted her boyfriend, jamessal, from editing her writing after he poked-fun at her liberal-minded atheism paragraph, leading her to believe he was poking fun at her beliefs rather than a typo. Take that as you will, Hatters, but Robin believes he deserves a beating.”
    It’s not true, I swear — I was poking fun at nothing. But protestations are now clearly beside the point. I blame Stuart. Dirty prescriptivist.

  65. Oh, the food is interesting enough. I would be delighted to help out with any leftovers. I just don’t have the attention span to cook anything that takes more than 2 or 3 minutes.
    But to say that anyone deserves a beating I find shocking, especially after the previous kind words about raising animals in big open pastures and with lots of love. Can’t she just feed you bread and water for a few days?
    As the risk of being called a prescriptivist, I would also say her use of italics and dashes is somewhat, uh, creative. She needs you, jamessal. She should take you back on full rations, maybe even with some extra chocolate thrown in for an emergency edit of that new paragraph.

  66. As>At, the coffee (organic and fair trade) is brewing now.

  67. I say first she beats him, then she gives him the full rations and chocolate. That’ll teach him. Oh, and put the video up on YouTube!

  68. The liberal atheists and the Unitarians were discussing a merger, but talks broke down on the question of who was tolerating whom.

  69. The liberal atheists and the Unitarians were discussing a merger, but talks broke down on the question of who was tolerating whom.

  70. When the Unitarians are mad at someone, do you know what they burn on their lawn?
    A question mark.

  71. AJP Crown says:

    I thought this might happen, but I so hoped I would be proved wrong. It’s a nice quiet friendly blog and you all go berserk. Someone’s going to have to pay for that toilet seat. I’m sure as hell not clearing up the throw up, either. Language louts. So embarrassing.

  72. I would also say her use of italics and dashes is somewhat, uh, creative.
    Not only are her itals and dashes just fine, but she’s my girlfriend — I live with her. C’mon.
    The liberal atheists and the Unitarians were discussing a merger, but talks broke down on the question of who was tolerating whom.
    I like that.
    I thought this might happen
    Your recommendation is still appreciated, Crown, even some people can’t behave. (I’m looking at you, Hat. YouTube, indeed.)

  73. I live with her. C’mon.
    ZOMG, of course you should say it’s just fine–you don’t want to cross that fine line into being a control freak. I had forgotten there might be guys with enough subtlety to know the difference, which is why I’m more than content to keep my sometime-boyfriend at a thousand mile distance. At any rate, peaking at the paragraph again, it looks like she’s got it straightened out, and that you’re eating again.
    I once had the good fortune to work with a retired editor of a major newspaper; his saying was always “a new pair of eyes”. Once he handed me something he had written for publication, and right away I saw something really obvious. He saw it too, as soon as I pointed to it, but he had read and revised the thing so many times he couldn’t see it objectively any more. One thing I wrote that we had both looked at too many times, he gave to a third person to look at. But yeah, it’s probably not so good if boyfriend is the “new eyes”.

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