The Great Paraphernalia Argument

Written by Issa Dioume

Following one long monday afternoon, after school Jack and Suzy were at home having an argument about an idea that had been brought up during one of their classes. A class that discussed the meaning of ‘beauty’ in our contemporary society. They rapidly derailed from that and began discussing garments and adornments that everyday people wore.
Jack argued that one could never base themselves on the exterior panoply of clothes and accessories of someone to define that persons’ personality for some people do not take the time to think what they put on and just go with whatever is sitting at the top of their pile of clothes; others that take time to get dressed might just be actors putting on a mask or playing a role. The one their clothes and apparel give them. Wearing an image that would define their true self in the eyes of others.  He was profoundly convinced of these facts and that clothes were a way for people to adopt a sort of persona.

However Suzy counterclaimed that a lot could be understood on someone through their accoutrements and impedimenta.
“But, explained Suzy, if someone is wearing clothes as a way to become somebody else then you can learn a whole lot about their inner self if you pay close attention! For example: If you see someone wearing an extremely bedazzling outfit, with a lot of make-up, carrying an extensive quantity of jewellery and accessories on their body; They are most likely trying to get noticed! and by that you can infer that they have some deep inner insecurities, lack of confidence or complexes that riddle them.”

“Yes, perhaps, replied Jack trying to mime a thinking philosophers face, but that is the case only for a small amount of people and some could just be eccentrics or fashionistas or maybe just people who felt like portraying that personality even if they do not have some deep seated complex on their physique – or social abilities! You are talking about exceptions. For the great majority of people it is almost impossible to make assumptions that turn out correct based solely off their apparel!”

Suzy smiled in response noting, “Almost huh? Okay, but admit that it is possible to judge some characteristics based on the exterior! Even simply their backgrounds, wealth of family for example.”
-“Well.. retorted Jack, what if someone poor just gets gifted some beautiful clothes that used to belong to the son of his rich Uncle? What then?”
-Well, what happens then is that you are also making exceptions! said Suzy with a smug proud look on her face.
-” That’s because that’s exactly my point! There are too many exceptions to make generalities. The only generality there is, IS that there are too many EXCEPTIONS! So there are no exceptions but the exception that everyone is an exception.”
-” But then, thought Suzy aloud, what sure way do you have to know things about people?”

-” Pffffff, you talk to them obviously! said Jack convinced.
-” But people can lie! and that’s exactly what you were saying when you explained that people can just wear clothes to creep into a ‘role’ or persona. It can all be just a grand illusion. Your own argument contradicts this.”

-“….. ” Jack said nothing. He had to admit that he had not thought of that possibility at all, no matter how obvious. This argument about clothes had suddenly turned into a quite deep conversations about humans and true selves.

” I don’t know, because sometimes people can change and truths change about them… he sighed, is there any true way of ever knowing ANYTHING about anyone then?”

-“… I guess there is no way.. if you can’t know by talking and can’t know by observing.. what can you even know? We can’t get in there minds so I guess the only way is to trust them.. Trust what they show us to be true. Trust what they say to us to be the truth and risk looking and feeling like idiots for believing them.”

– “Easier said then done, it’s nice to have some assurances.. but I guess you’re right… answered Jack solemnly, there is no unique way to truly know someone but by trusting them.”

Jack felt completely morose and depressed by this newfound reality he had just uncovered with Suzy.

-” AHA! exclaimed Suzy triumphantly, so I was right! You agree!”
-“Yes, sure you were right, Jack admitted somewhat reluctantly, but what about people who lie to themselves and honestly believe what they tell us?”

-” Pfffffffffffffff, who cares! exceptions, exceptions! all that matters is: I was right and you were wrong!” said Suzy half laughing half singing mockingly, overall quite pleased with herself having accomplished her duty: proving him wrong.

Jack smiled silently, interiorly laughing at how the situation had boomeranged back on himself unexpectedly.

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