THE RAZOR’S EDGE: A short peek at shaving


Stubble in the form of whiskers has been with us almost since the invention of the face. As cultures have changed throughout history, so have people’s attitudes toward whiskers. The early people of the Fertile Crescent wore their facial hair proudly. Artifacts have been uncovered that show a proud Sumerian man with his beard adorned with oil and chicken bones and bits of parsley, although some scholars suggest that these findings merely showcase sloppy ancient eaters.

An early legend tells of a man with his beard decorated with many bits of bread. The story says that, even though this was very attractive to ancient females, the man had a perplexing problem of birds swooping constantly upon his beard. This so annoyed him that he took to pulling large chunks of his beard out until the clean-shaven look was born. Today’s modern men (and even some women) would never consider this gruesome method to be a proper removal of unwanted facial hair.

Actual shaving was done some years later with pottery shards. Many archeological digs reveal literally truckloads of pottery shards. For years archeologists thought these were bits of broken ceramic vessels, but now many believe these shards to be, not broken bits, but original shaving tools. Some scientists believe that the shards even say, “bic” on the back.

As hygiene evolved, new and better tools came along. Finally, a sharpened razor blade with a handle was invented by a Greek inventor named Idios. Idios also invented an electric razor, but electricity was unfortunately not available for 2200 more years. But the razor blade was plenty exciting enough for people akin to using pottery shards.

In fact shaving got to be such a joy that even woman and children got into the act. Thus up until this century children were sometimes affectionately called “little shavers.”

Today stubble removal is easier than ever. Still it requires time and daily attention. If a man spends 3-5 minutes every day shaving then over the course of his lifetime this could add up to hundreds of years. Little wonder then that many men prefer to let at least some of their facial hair grow, the hair above their top lip, or on their chin, or all the hair on the left side of their face for example.

So then what of the future of shaving?  Some analysts forecast a time in the near future when men can get a shave over the internet. A technology institute in Germany is currently experimenting with a hat that projects a holographic image over the wearer’s face so that he appears to be clean- shaven at all times. Holograms, on-line shaving, who knows what’s in store? Call me old fashioned, but I like hot shaving cream, a straight razor and barber shop aftershave.


“I don’t really want to do anything, I just want to own.”

– Gen. Worthington Bulbous, Military Industrial Complex

Filed Under: Reflections on Disorder


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