Dr Seuss - The Hat as mask
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The Author Himself Was a Cat in the Hat - By LESLIE KAUFMANFEB. 3, 2013
Theodor Geisel was born in 1904 in Spingfield, Mass., at a time when hats were a much more common part of a man’s wardrobe. Still, Geisel, who was something of an iconoclast and prankster, enjoyed them more than most, largely because of their costumelike quality.
During a brief time studying at Oxford University, he wore a cap. As he traveled to 30 or so countries in his 20s, he wore a Panama hat. It was then that he started his collection.
After his sister Marnie returned from visiting him in the autumn of 1937, The Springfield Union-News quoted her as reporting: “Ted has another peculiar hobby — that of collecting hats of every description. Why, he must have several hundred, and he is using them as the foundation of his next book.” She added, “I have seen him put on an impromptu show for guests, using the hats as costumes,” and “he has kept a whole party in stitches just by making up a play with kitchen knives and spoons for the actors.”
Robert Chase, co-founder and president of Chase Art Companies, which represents modern and contemporary artists, ...... said the hats showed up early in the advertising work and editorial cartoons of Geisel, who died in 1991. “By putting a hat on a character” Geisel “realized he could give that character a lot of personality,” Mr. Chase said. “In some cases the hat became a punch line.”
The collection does feature a red Robin Hood-like cap with feather that is exactly like the one that kept reappearing on Bartholomew Cubbins’s head. A tall blue military cap with red yarn balls that is also in the show under the name Triple Sling Jigger, seems to have been the inspiration for a hat in “The Butter Battle Book,” Mr. Chase said.
Then there is the striped, red-and-white stovepipe hat that is clearly the twin of the one worn by the most famous, mischievous cat of them all. Mr. Chase said he has no documentation as to which came first — the hat on display or the illustrated one in “The Cat in the Hat.”
But even when the hats in the collection did not directly inspire the drawings in the books, they certainly seemed to inspire the man. The exhibit quotes from a book called “Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel” to illustrate how this sometimes worked:
As editor in chief of Beginner Books at Random House in the late 1960s, Michael Frith worked closely with Geisel, sometimes into the early hours of the morning. When they were stumped by a word choice, Mr. Frith said, Geisel would often bound to the closet and grab a hat for each of them — a sombrero, or perhaps a fez. There they would be, sitting on the floor, Mr. Frith remembered, “two grown men in stupid hats trying to come up with the right word for a book that had only 50 words in it at most.”