Tea, dressing gowns, and Arthur Dent.
Or An Englishman, his vestage and beverage.
When enquiring into the uses, significance, and importance of both tea and dressing gowns, it is important to understand exactly what we mean by both of them. The significance of the first law of thought is not to be underestimated here.
The first law of thought (or the 'law of identity'), as formulated by George Boole in his work 'An investigation of the laws of thought on which are founded the mathematical theories of logic and probabilities' states that whatever is, is. The Law of Identity preserves the individuality of every object which exists. A, it states, is A, and has the same sense of self-identity. Whilst to a rationalist these seem perfectly logical and self-evident, their significance as general principles1 is great. Taking the tea as the first object for the discussion, we may not be sure as to the implications and significance of tea until we are sure exactly what tea is.
According to the dictionary, then, tea is 'An aromatic, slightly bitter beverage made by steeping tea leaves in boiling water2.' To take this as an example of a prior piece of knowledge, in this circumstance, seems the most sensible option. However, in the fashion of a true empiricist (and much to the credit of Lord Russell's theorising on general principles), the practical applications of tea may only be derived by experience and, as such, the principle of induction must be applied here. To put it bluntly, the dictionary goes down the pan, and we must simply experience the tea itself.
From experience, then, tea is a calming, soothing beverage, well-suited to a pre-slumber drink, quite juxtaposed to coffee. It is an evening drink, or - if we take the state of somnolent, graceful civilisation which correlates with the state of mind before bed - it is the drink of the civilised, discerning, gentleman (or woman). This state of mind, then, being the state of mind which is (almost without exception) brought about by tea must be the subject of any judgement of tea, for the effect of tea is closely bound up in the significance of it. This state of mind, being rational, calm, but at the same time creative, calm, and pensive, represents the best qualities which are inherent in humanity.
If a bachelor is an unmarried man, and Arthur Dent is an unmarried man, then Arthur Dent is a bachelor. If Arthur Dent drinks tea, and tea inspires hope, calmness, inner peace, rationale, creativity, and thoughtfulness, then Arthur Dent must encapsulate these qualities.
The dressing gown being representative of almost all of these qualities, and being also the staple garment of Arthur Dent, the muse of the philosophy of the beverage and vestment, the relationship between dressing gown and tea is one which forms a double-helix.
Significantly, before delving into further detail of the relationship, it must be noted that the double-helix is the basis of all life, being the exact shape and form of DNA, the fundamental building block of life as we know it. The obvious undertones of the dressing gown/tea relationship being this, then, we cannot but conclude that they take a very important part in human existence, regardless of the incidental existence of the individual.
The relationship, then, having strayed into the field of double-helixed symbolism, is a close one. Tea is, as mentioned, a somnolent drink inspiring of calm moods, and frequently drunk before bed time. This parallels directly the nature of the dressing gown, which - also - is worn before bedtime. For the the civilised person, the dressing gown is also worn in the morning, and so we begin a form of dialectic ascent: The tea inspires the mental state which causes the drinker to wear the dressing gown in the morning, which - in turn - inspires the drinking of tea in the morning. As well as the pure efficient, spiritual simplicity of this innate relationship, the obvious parallels with the Socratic idea of the ascent to true knowledge are (or if not, should be) well documented.
The relationship, then, furthers - and betters - the cause of the human, culminating in a state which (taking a practical example) enabled Arthur Dent himself to save the Heart of Gold from almost certain destruction whilst above the surface of the planet Magrithea. Significantly, the three entities destroyed in the accomplishment of this, the saving of the civilised entity, were all either incapable of the ascent to dressing-gowned perfection3 or created by creatures who, whilst wearing a dressing gown-like object, have found their own end (corrupted from the original). The scientists who worked on the nuclear missile will have worn the ubiquitous white lab-coat.
This white lab-coat, then, epitomises the antithesis of the dressing gown and tea. The creation of it (the genocidal nuclear warhead) being uncivilised, unethical, and immoral, the scientists in possession of their false idol (the white lab-coat) must be branded as none other than heretics.
Whilst the scientific study of tea yields many other positive benefits of tea, the pursuit of the science used to ascertain these both dehumanises the tea, and adds to the heresy so prevalent in this modern world, through the means of science and the white lab-coat. Whilst not all science is evil per se, the attitude which is innate in modern science is quite at odds with the very honourable philosophy of the tea and dressing gown. Tea and dressing gowns, then, hold lasting significance for the whole of humanity.