Dressing for the Heat

1891600_10152484108932683_2793182695933157344_oIt’s during hot weather like today’s that one of the deeply insane aspects of our dominant Western culture stands out to me. It’s the insistence on adherence to standard workplace dress codes, especially suits and ties, which are, at best, only suited to mildly cool weather, during warmer weather. This means, of course, that during outdoor walking or public transit commutes many people are quite overdressed, and workplaces, shops, and theatres, for instance, are overly air-conditioned to meet this norm. Everyone who’s worked in an office building has probably witnessed the incongruity of the secretary who brings in a sweater to wear indoors when it’s sweltering outside.

All of this is of course extremely wasteful; so much energy could be saved if we all wore seasonally appropriate clothes. (I won’t propose nudism for really hot weather, although that’s actually the most logical option.) In some hot countries (e.g., Israel or The Philippines, where you usually see politicians on the news in short sleeve shirts and no jackets or ties), they do wear more appropriate attire. But not here in North America or Europe during hot weather. No, we insist on denying the reality of the season and modifying as much of our environment as possible to create an artificial spring or autumn. We resent nature and want it to conform to our needs, to accommodate our dress codes. (I don’t include myself, or many people I know, for that matter, in this “we”, of course. It’s merely a rhetorical device.) This truly is insane.

—Kaï Matthews

About kaimuse

Kai Matthews is a musician, composer, and philosopher-in-training (with degrees in both fields, to the extent that that means anything.) As a 12th-generation American and 8th-generation Canadian, but born as an ex-pat in Germany and feeling more European in outlook, he feels at once both a deep rootedness in and a critical reserve toward his culture. He feels most comfortable being a little out of his milieu - that is, being uncomfortable and challenged. He's a cisgendered hetero white boy who's lived in a gay neighbourhood in San Francisco, and is a middle-class WASPy anglophone living in a poor, multi-cultural immigrant 'hood where most people's first language is neither French nor English. He was a rock and roll hippie getting a classical composition degree at a jazz school, and is a perpetual beginner student of North Indian classical music, in which his Western training is less help than hindrance. In philosophy, he naïvely wonders why the perpetually feuding analytic and Continental traditions can't just get along...

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