Clothes make the man

A story told by Arthur Naiman

A man goes to a tailor to try on a new custom-made suit.  The
first thing he notices is that the arms are too long.
	"No problem," says the tailor.  "Just bend them at the elbow
and hold them out in front of you.  See, now it's fine."
	"But the collar is up around my ears!"
	"It's nothing.  Just hunch your back up a little … no, a
little more … that's it."
	"But I'm stepping on my cuffs!" the man cries in desperation.
	"Nu, bend your knees a little to take up the slack.  There you
go.  Look in the mirror -- the suit fits perfectly."
	So, twisted like a pretzel, the man lurches out onto the
street.  Reba and Florence see him go by.
	"Oh, look," says Reba, "that poor man!"
	"Yes," says Florence, "but what a beautiful suit."
		-- Arthur Naiman, "Every Goy's Guide to Yiddish"



1 Comment

  1. According to Wikipedia

    From this perspective, Adorno’s writings on politics, philosophy, music and literature could be described as a lifelong critique of the ways in which each tries to justify self-mutilation as the necessary price of self-preservation. According to Adorno’s translator Robert Hullot-Kentor, the central motive of Adorno’s work thus consists in determining “how life could be more than the struggle for self-preservation”.

    According to Jonathan Rée

    His reputation was founded mainly on Minima Moralia,a book of aphorisms and observations published in 1951. The general premise was that we live in a “false society”, where everything is “totally organised” and people are treated as things, and things as people. There was no value except exchange value, and it had infiltrated our lives so completely that we had forgotten how to love anything for its own sake. We had even lost the ability to give thoughtful presents: the act of making a gift had degenerated into a tactical ploy, a grudging exchange of objects executed with “careful adherence to the prescribed budget, sceptical appraisal of the other, and the least possible effort”. Meanwhile every encounter with popular culture made us coarser and more stupid, and we were always far too busy to spend much time on art, settling at most for “trashy biographies” that “humanise” the achievement of great artists by bringing them down to our own level. The strenuousness of original thinking had been replaced by the “salaried profundity” of university professors, who train their students to harmonise their judgements with those of their colleagues so as to earn a living as “spokespersons for the average”. The only possible remedy was to turn our backs on the “cultivated philistines”, renounce the old ideal of “theoretical cohesion” and strive to attain truth in the only form that still has any meaning: not the premasticated platitudes of common-sense rationality, but jagged fragments of insight whose value lies not in their plausibility but in their “distance from the continuity of the familiar”.


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