Beware of The Emperor's New Clothes Syndrome - a New Epidemic - Don't be a Sheep

The Emperor's New Clothes Illustration  Virginia Frances Sterrett 1921
The Emperor's New Clothes
Illustration  Virginia Frances Sterrett 1921

Today's post was prompted by an article I had read in The Guardian newspaper.

An article written by author Paulo Coelho , about his thoughts and opinions on James Joyce's book,  'Ulysses'.

It's also worth reading the comments people have left on the above article.

James Joyce's Ulysses
James Joyce's Ulysses

James Joyce's 'Ulysses' is considered by some to be

"The best book in the world"

I beg to differ, I have tried to read this book more times than I can remember, I don't think that I have ever made it past the half way mark. 

Now, I am no author, but I am a great reader, a random list of books, classics, new classics, poetry, biographies, chic lit, fiction and non Fiction.

I am never without a book or two or three on the go.
I have never not finished a book, however much I disliked it, except for this one, Ulysses!

On the other hand I have read a few of  Coelho's books and enjoyed them.

But this post is not about liking, or not liking certain books, or whether they are good or bad, it's about what people think they should like.

Paulo Coelho  -  Brazilian lyricist and novelist
Paulo Coelho  -  Brazilian lyricist and novelist

Maybe Coelho was a bit strong with his wording, in the article in the Guardian newspaper:

 " James Joyces's Ulysses is harmful to literature"

but, it was his opinion, he didn't like the book.

 He was honest, but what an uproar in response to his opinion, how dare he malign one of the world's great writers?

This makes me wonder how many of the objectors really liked the book, how many had actually read it?

And this brings me to the story of the Emperor's new clothes.

The Emperors New Clothes Illustration by Edmund Dulac
The Emperors New Clothes
Illustration by Edmund Dulac

Many of you probably know the story of the Emperor's new clothes, a classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, for those who don't, here's a short summary.

A couple of sly tailors promise the Emperor, who cares only about his image, that they will make him a suit of clothes, which will be invisible to stupid and ignorant people, only the cleverest of the land will have the ability to see them.

In reality, the tailors have made nothing, and mime the actions of presenting the clothes to the Emperor, and dressing him.

 Of course, the Emperor can see nothing, but is afraid to appear stupid, and so pretends he can see the suit of clothes and praises the two tailors for their magnificent work.

The Emperor parades his suit before his subjects, who have heard all about the invisible suit.

 They oooh and ahhh, oh how exquisite, playing along with him for the same reason, they pretend, so as not to appear stupid.

A small boy, too young (and honest) to understand the meaning of all this, shouts aloud;

 'But he isn't wearing anything at all!'

Maybe a large number of people who rave about James Joyce's book "Ulysses" have the "Emperor's new clothes syndrome", or am I the stupid one, for not liking the book?

All I know is that I don't like it, but I accept that maybe it is a very good book, we all have different tastes.

 The point is, I am honest, I don't care if I am ridiculed for not liking it, I don't read books to appear as something that I am not.

Are some afraid of looking unintelligent if they say they don't like it, if they have a friend that they regard as clever and praises the book, do they think' oh well so and so likes it, it must be good'?

So they  become one of the flock, a sheep, and go along with everyone else.


We have all done it, I know I have, in my younger years, especially, wanting to 'fit in' by wearing things that I didn't really like, listening to the 'right' music, pretending to like it when I thought it was terrible!

I thought the thing to do was to 'fit in' follow the crowd.

If only I knew then that different is better !

It does need a lot of confidence and a strong character as a young teenager though to be different and if you are, different, what happens ?

 A trend is set!

People start following you, you have to start being different all over again!

The Emperor's new clothes syndrome is every where, its head pops up in art, in food, the 'in' place for holidays

Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko

Famous artist Mark Rothko, two schools of thought here, either brilliant, what talent or...I could do that.


Caviar, how many 'absolutely adore it darling' or just think that they should 'absolutely adore it darling'!

Politically correctness, how many are really politically correct because they believe it is the only way to be, or are just scared not to be? I fear the latter.

Politically correctness
Politically correctness

Jeremy Clarkson comes into his own with his un-politically correctness.
I am a sure many people agree with what he comes out with but are just too afraid to say it.

Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson

Below, is one of the funnier PC 
'titles' I've come across.


Another is the correct way to say a person is short, "vertically challenged"

I read a brilliant comment on Facebook, by a lady bored by the tour de France cycling this year, in Yorkshire.

She had stopped telling her friends that she was really bored after the weeks and weeks of preparation, seeing all about it every time she turned on the television etc,  because they shouted at her for being miserable.

After that, she pretended that she thought it was absolutely fabulous.
Anything for a quiet life!

People can't believe that I don't like Brad Pit, I don't, I don't like
"pretty boys"

I like this !

Add caption
Jack Nicholson

and this!

Jean Reno
Jean Reno

and this!

Serge Gainsbourgh
Serge Gainsbourgh

MGG (My Greek God), on taking my Father to see the Acroplis, when he first visited Athens, said to him;

"It's just a pile of old stones"

I suppose it is, but he did give my Father a laugh, he gave his honest opinion though.

This is not about always being right or that yours is the only opinion that counts, it is about being honest, about being yourself and if that means being different, well, 

Be different!

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