So It Goes: Musings on Superficiality

When I’m feeling particularly superficial I refer to this line in Slaughterhouse Five

“Like so many Americans she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.” 

Vonnegut was referring to religious meaning, a crucifix as replacement for church, but I’d rather think of my affinity for material goods in philosophical terms, especially when I’m eyeballing a designer handbag and going

So beautiful crying gif

So is spending an exorbitant amount of money on, say, a Kate Spade clutch justified, in the literary sense, if it’s a book clutch? By virtue of the object does it turn my artificial wants into something more meaningful? Or is my intellect called into question when I’m wearing a book as a wrist ornament?

So It Goes necklaceOut of Print Clothing necklace

My appreciation for pretty things stems from the basic rules of aesthetics: quality and symmetry. I like to think the same goes for books, words that compose an appealing aesthetic in the mind. The Kate Spade book clutch is really an ingenious marketing scheme. The appeal is stolen from the reputation of the story or the author, the mindful aesthetic, and turns it into something visible and functional. It serves two purposes: Purse, obviously, but our choice in book cover serves as a statement, the connotations carried over to reflect ourselves perhaps as cynics (The Age of Innocence) or romantics (Pride and Prejudice). The same can be said of our carefully curated book shelves. Books that I treasure I seek to own and admit deliberation in my display of them. The objects speak for themselves and in turn for me. This reappropriation of literature is evident in the books we choose to read (or I guess wear?) outside of our Kindles. As far as money goes this may be the first, and only, time in my life that I can splurge on things that aren’t important. I have a decent job, no car payments, no mortgage, no kid (my cat basically takes care of himself.)

I guess you can call this my roundabout way of trying to justify these superficial tendencies. So the book is judged by its cover. But it’s not defined by it. It’s okay to drool over Tory Burch shoes and also wax philosophical about Nietzsche. I don’t need to be pigeonholed intellectually or as a person based on these things. And I will forever live by the Tom Haverford mantra:

treat yo self - tom haverford

Rebecca Ritchey

Your resident book eater.

  1. If you want to philosophize with Vonnegut, couldn’t you say that you had no choice but to buy those things (in a tralfamadorian sort of way)? I suppose Kate Spade doesn’t make Slaughterhouse 5 clutches?