buttons on the back,

a classic utopian insight that people might wear clothes buttoned down the back as an excuse to help each other out: a cliche for a tradition or behavior that largely exists “to bond souls in warmth” — to let one feel needed. The metaphor implies some obvious impracticality, “endearing awkwardness”; most buttons-on-the-back are improvised (e.g. a wizards sudden dispatch) even when they are tied in with some old and regularly reinforced lore.

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