18 December 2013

Naked people have little to no influence on society.

Last evening, during my indepth discussions with Tathagata about life, the conversation somehow veered towards human being’s fascination towards how they dress up.

I think we were talking about Shakespeare – specifically, Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 3. Polonius gave some memorable advice to his son Laertes before he left home at the age of 21 (or was it 25?). A couple of great examples:

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be // For loan oft loses both itself and friend”

“Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice // Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.”

But as I explained to Tathagata, there was a particular advice that vexed me no end since I cannot, even to this day, align my values to that advice. It ran thus…

“For the apparel oft proclaims the man,”

That means you reconcile yourself to a world where you will be judged by how you look. That bothers me a lot. Mostly because I do not look good or dress good ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seriously though, I have been deeply conflicted on that advice.

Tathagata, with his vast knowledge of literature, reminded me of a quote from Tagore

“Juta ki manushke boRo korite pare?”

Roughly translated to Shakespearean English it would be

“Shoes maketh nary a man, nobler”

I was absolutely delighted by his quick quip from a different language, different poet, different times.

Maybe I like him so much because he is my friend from elementary school.
Maybe I like him so much because he knows so much about literature and poetry.
I think though I like him mostly because he comes up with quotes that I can agree with better than the ones I come up with myself I ๐Ÿ˜‰

Later driving back home, I remembered a Mark Twain funny quote on this topic I wish I had told him.

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little to no influence on society” ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted December 18, 2013 by Rajib Roy in category "Musings


  1. By Rajib Roy on

    Tagging Shoumyo. Also tagging Andy since we talked about this piece of “Be true to thine own self” recently…

  2. By Narayan Venkatasubramanyan on

    reminds me of an old dave barry line: “The type of luggage you carry says a lot about you. For example, if you’re carrying somebody elseโ€™s luggage, it says you’re a thief.”

  3. By Somnath Daripa on

    Good post Rajibda. Guess ‘naked’ is figurative here, coz Mahavir Jain and his predecessors and followers have had much of an influence.

  4. By Hal Boyd on

    Mark Twain was a genius and truly the voice of the South. I so enjoy his writing and his wicked sense of humor.

  5. By Nitin Chandekar on

    I agree with you Rajib, and have grudgingly reconciled to this sad reality – truer today than during Shakespearean times perhaps. Btw you could have simply quoted to your friend “don’t judge a book by its cover”.
    I was listening to a discussion on this topic on NPR, and I agreed with the general consensus that we (as a society) have become busier doing more things at the cost of becoming more superficial ie trading off depth for breadth. As a result we want a quick and easy way to sort people out :-). Armani suit, Rolex watch or Gucci bag quickly announce to the (busy) world that one is important ( or is seeking attention) – it has little or opposite effect on me:-).
    I agree with Einstein who said “If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies…. It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.”


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