Emperor’s New Clothes


Welcome to Mythic Deviant.
I’m see Gabriel, and today the Emperor’s New Clothes.
Once upon a time, there was an emperor and he loved his fashion.
He did not love his people.
He did not love his army.
He did not love his economy.
He loved only fashion.
So when two swindlers came to town, they approached him and they told
him that they could make him the most beautiful outfit that had ever existed.
Not only would it be woven in intricate patterns and reflect vivid
colors, it would also be magical.
It would help him discern.
Who were the best participants in his community.
You see this fabric, they said, could only be seen by those who are very intelligent
and extremely competent at their jobs.
And the emperor immediately thought ‘that sounds great.’
I need to have this make me an outfit as soon as possible.
And the two swindlers demanded grape silks and cold thread and they immediately
stuff those in their suitcases.
And they pulled out looms and they put nothing on them.
So a few weeks later, when the prime minister was sent by the emperor to go
check on the status of the clothing, he walked in and he saw the empty looms
and the two swindlers pretending to weave on them and he thought ‘Oh no:
I’m reasonably certain that I’m smart, but I must be terrible at my job.
I can’t let anyone know this.’ And so he said, “oh, what beautiful
patterns, what vivid colors.
I must hurry back and tell the emperor.”
He wanted to get out before they asked him anything
So, he got back to the emperor and he said “they are the most
beautiful fabrics I have ever seen.”
And the emperor immediately sent more silk and more gold thread…
that the swindlers then put in their suitcases.
And another couple of weeks went by and the emperor sent a second person from his
council to go check on the attire and that person got there and they looked, and they
looked, and they saw nothing, but clearly there were people attempting to weave on
those empty looms and this person said, ‘well, I know I’m very good at my job.
Everyone tells me this.
So I must not be very smart, but I don’t want anyone to know
because I might get in trouble.
They might fire me.
I’d lose.
So, this person told no one.
Said, “those are beautiful fabrics.
What intricate patterns, what vivid colors,” just as the first one had said.
And this person went back to the emperor and reported that the
fabrics were lovely and everything was coming along beautifully.
So the emperor arranged to wear the new outfit at his next parade.
So the morning of the parade, the swindlers came to the
emperor and they dressed him.
They pretended to put a cloak over him.
They pretended to tie something around his waist.
They pretended to lay out a train.
And two people came to carry the train as the emperor walked
through town and they, not finding anything, pretended to pick it up.
And a big canopy was placed over the emperor as he paraded through town and
everyone looked on and thought, ‘oh no, I’m not as good as I thought I was’
until they got halfway through town.
When a small child yelled “The Emperor’s wearing not any clothing at all, nothing!”
And the people started to whisper the impersonal, wearing no clothing.
The emperor is naked out there.
There’s no clothing on the emperor.
And they were all very relieved.
“I thought it was me, but really he’s just naked” The emperor, however, doubled down
the emperor stood ever so more proudly, and walked ever so more upright, and
continued parading through town as if he was wearing the finest clothing ever.
What always gets me about this story is the idea that the emperor was
perfectly comfortable with going out naked in front of all the people who
were incompetent or unintelligent.
I guess their opinions didn’t matter.
I don’t know.
But in this case he was genuinely naked.
And when we look at the story, most people talk about, you know, what is
it that we’re pretending we see, but I don’t think it is what we’re pretending
when we say, especially right now, we have such amazing echo chambers with
advertising and social media and all the digital world . We have smart devices
everywhere that want to parrot back to us, because human beings have confirmation
bias, whatever it is we already believe we are happy to have validated.
We will believe that, but if we don’t believe it, we are not happy to learn it.
We dismiss that.
So we’re already inclined not to take in new information.
I could go on at great length about why that is, but in large part it’s
so that we can think of ourselves as worthy members of the group.
In any event, we are encountering all this information that validates our existing
beliefs, and we are painting clothing to put on the emperor in our own minds.
We imagine exactly what the clothing looks like.
It’s like we think that we understand how everything is working when we’re
rarely actually looking below the surface to see that actually the
emperor is wearing nothing at all.
The images of the clothing that we see are painting within our own
eyes and not on the emperor himself.
So what is it that you believe so firmly that you no longer take into
account that it might not be true.
How can I look at the ways that things seem so obvious to me because I am
invested in them and not because they’re, what’s actually happening.
I hope that you will look at this with me this week and I
hope you have a lovely time.
Thank you so much.