As the culture of a business degrades the language euphemizes. As it improves the language clarifies.
In the degraded business, bosses are leaders; employees, team members; firing is letting go; something rotten is pleasant and neutral.
One of the strange things about the business world is the extent to which its jargon is euphemistic. When we talk about leaders, we’re talking about bosses. Yet for some reason bosses don’t like to admit what it is they do. That’s why employees become “team members,” why firing becomes “letting go.” In a way, it suggests that people’s human instincts are that capitalism is something rotten; the more you describe it with precision, the more horrendous it sounds. At the level of uplifting abstractions, derived from self-help culture, everything can be pleasant and neutral. It’s only when you hack through the forest of buzzwords that you can understand what is actually being discussed.
The Unendurable Horrors of Leadership Camp, Current Affairs
Filed under: chronotopes, departure lounge, the sweet life | Tags: justice, Pericles
Here is real democracy, vague and far off, and in retreat. We have the few, the creative class; real democracy favours the many. We have the coalition of the ascendant where advancement is kept for a select class; real democracy cares not for class. We have funding by ‘political action’; real democracy removes the poverty obstacle.
The administration of Athens favours the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy.
If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if there is no social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit.
Nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is never hindered by the obscurity of his condition.
Filed under: departure lounge, unseen world | Tags: Elizabeth Insogna, painting, This Image in Witchcraft
Elizabeth Insogna, 2008
Filed under: brave new world, chronotopes, departure lounge, the sweet life, unseen world | Tags: England, europe, germany, New England, power, witch
Western Alps: worker of magic, lurid orgies
Germany: flying witches, always a woman, wicked, lone female, wicked thoughts, satanic, dangerous, insatiable, commanding.
England: blood compact with the Devil, marked bodily, enchanter using charms, ointments and effigies.
The continent: hand walker, rode hyenas, attended forest bacchanals, stole babies and penises, extended pregnancies.
Scandanavia and Scotland: flying witches
Massachusetts: general mischief involving cattle, letters, hay and beer, witty and could either be diminutive or strong.
Witchy qualities / adjectives are established by clergy and authorities who were terribly threatened. Each adjective is a restatement – and a mask – of a root female quality that challenged the authority’s power. The root qualities are perennial through centuries: joy, curiosity, yearning, abandon etc.
What exactly was a witch? Any seventeenth-century New Englander could have told you. As workers of magic, witches and wizards extend as far back as recorded history. The witch as Salem conceived her materialized in the thirteenth century, when sorcery and heresy moved closer together. She came into her own with the Inquisition, as a popular myth yielded to a popular madness. The western Alps introduced her to lurid orgies. Germany launched her into the air. As the magician molted into the witch, she also became predominately female, inherently more wicked and more susceptible to satanic overtures. An influential fifteenth-century text compressed a shelf of classical sources to make its point: “When a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil.” As is often the case with questions of women and power, elucidations here verged on the paranormal. Though weak willed, women could emerge as dangerously, insatiably commanding.
The English witch made the trip to North America largely intact. She signed her agreement with the Devil in blood, bore a mark on her body for her compact, and enchanted by way of charms, ointments, and poppets, doll-like effigies. Continental witches had more fun. They walked on their hands. They made pregnancies last for three years. They rode hyenas to bacchanals deep in the forest. They stole babies and penises. The Massachusetts witch disordered the barn and the kitchen. She seldom flew to illicit meetings, more common in Scandinavia and Scotland. Instead, she divined the contents of an unopened letter, spun suspiciously fine linen, survived falls down stairs, tipped hay from wagons, enchanted beer, or caused cattle to leap four feet off the ground. Witches could be muttering, contentious malcontents or inexplicably strong and unaccountably smart. They could commit the capital offense of having more wit than their neighbors, as a minister said of the third Massachusetts woman hanged for witchcraft, in 1656.
Matters were murkier when it came to the wily figure with six thousand years of experience, the master of disguise who could cause things to appear and disappear, who knew your secrets and could make you believe things of yourself that were not true. He turned up in New England as a hybrid monkey, man, and rooster, or as a fast-moving turtle. Even Cotton Mather was unsure what language he spoke. He was a pervasive presence, however: the air pulsed with his minions. Typically in Massachusetts, he wore a high-crowned hat, as he had in an earlier Swedish invasion, which Mather documented in his 1689 book. Mather did not mention the brightly colored scarf that the Devil wound around his hat. Like the Swedish devil’s gartered stockings or red beard, it never turned up in New England.
The Witches of Salem, Diabolical doings in a Puritan village, BY STACY SCHIFF
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: charisma, hubris, leadership, narcissism, sexes
photo: Andras D. Hajdu
The ancient Greeks had a vote in which the most popular senator was ostracized because they understood the corrupting influence of power. Often it’s the most aggressive person who advances and not the most qualified, capable or instinctual, and it’s painful to be left behind. The talkers take charge of the knowers and feelers; confidence manages competence. Hubris is mistaken for leadership ability.
“In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our inability to discern between confidence and competence. That is, because we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence, we are fooled into believing that men are better leaders than women. In other words, when it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women (e.g., from Argentina to Norway and the USA to Japan) is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women. ”
“This is consistent with the finding that leaderless groups have a natural tendency to elect self-centered, overconfident and narcissistic individuals as leaders, and that these personality characteristics are not equally common in men and women.”
Why do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? Harvard Business Review