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How to wear a fez

Jeremy Seal's A Fez of the Heart: Travels Around Turkey in Search of a Hat is a fun travelogue, but it's also a bit more. Seal may not quite have the historical sweep of a Jason Goodwin, the literary panache of a Bruce Chatwin or the daring of an Eric Hansen. But in pursuing his personal obsession with the fez (first imposed then banned a century later by regimes seeking to improve Turkey's image), Seal addresses some important cultural and aesthetic questions for the age of PoPoMo globalism. Must memes from traditional cultures be lost as the world gets smaller? And can "modern" or "western" admirers of those memes keep them alive as more than a poor parody of the original? Much of the music I find most compelling attempts be simultaneously reverent and irreverent as it mines traditional forms, but Seal finds that it is no longer possible to wear a fez without irony. I fear that as goes the fez, so goes all traditional culture.

books 2001.09.12 link