Towels and Hooks

Two things are important in public toilets and similar confinements we find ourselves in for distinctively private affairs and these things are towels and hooks. Why write about them? What can we possibly gain from it? If you’re not interested in towels and hooks, stop reading and enjoy your day. It’s about metaphysics, perhaps. These things are so common that we don’t perceive them as long as they’re there. Their absence however, can cause some significant inconvenience.

Try using a public bathroom with a muddy floor and no hooks. Do you keep your overcoat on? Hold it in your hands? Do you put your briefcase on your knees, perhaps put it on the water reservoir? Or after you’ve washed your hands and there’s nothing to dry them with, will you simply wipe them on your trousers, risking the frown of many onlookers once again in public? These are simple, everyday questions and we normally don’t ponder them since towels and hooks are always available.

Does that make these questions metaphysical questions? Where exactly do they go beyond the practicality of proper hanging of our belongings and proper drying of our hands? Lies there a deeper meaning in the need for hooks and towels? The need to keep it dry and hang it high, the need to never completely be consumed by our surroundings, never to sink away in the foam of the nunc stans.

No. Hooks and towels are practical enough to evade these philosophizing descriptions. They are what they are: towels and hooks. I prefer cotton towels over paper towels and hand dryers for environmental reasons. As for hooks, sure a carved or turned wooden peg is ideal but sometimes a rusty nail can make us happy, too. Does the absurd loom in the unexplored perifery of our everyday experience?

Or should we cherish it there? The absurd fragility of us, temporary beings clinging to temporary objects with worries that we but express using a timeless grammar. Isn’t it there, right at the point where we discern the absurdity in our everyday routine, that we learn that our grammar, too, is subject to the fragility that makes us who we are? Isn’t it there that our empathy has a chance of becoming more than an instinct for group survival?

We need towels and hooks, and we need the occasional absence of towels and hooks more than ever.

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Published by

Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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