The Homebody’s Hats

“There are shops full of merchandise of wonderful things made by people[…]who believe, or used to believe, in magic[…]before colonization and the savage stripping away of such beliefs[…] All much be touched.  All touch corrupts.   All must be corrupted” (10-11).  This passage referring to the touch that corrupts is viewed negatively by the Homebody, because of her identity as a consumer in the U.K.  Her thoughts on the postcolonial world, though romantic, do carry some insight.  The hats she purchases for her party become emblems of the primitive lifestyles that existed before it “washed up upon our culpable shores, [their] magic now shriveled into the safe container of aesthetic, which is to say, consumer appeal” (17).  She is, at least, aware of the consequences that come with being a consumer.  She resents this identity at times and acknowledges her own lukewarm domestic life, though, she is not too hasty in changing it if that change is even in her power.
I am still perplexed by her statement “all must be corrupted” and its implications.  To say that the magic of older civilization (which also implies superstition, terse ritual, and fear) was not corrupt would be blindly romanticizing the past, especially since it is in the history of a foreign land.  I think both extremes, the magical and the modern, have oppressive natures built into them.  I’m not trying to support the acts of colonizing by any means but I think by saying all touch corrupts she is implying a pure state of being before the contact, which is naive.  In this modern age of information the “touch” should lead to more empathy between peoples, not to the lonely-in-limbo-state in which we find the Homebody.

As a side note, I couldn’t help but think of this song while reading of the pillbox hats:

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