not a leader
August 16, 2014, 6:41 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

To be a leader – in this view below – you must: see yourself, rule yourself, see others, act altruistically, and organize people. There’s a heavy emphasis on charisma, self and action, and a cursory mention of others.

Curiously no mention at all of knowledge or vision: in this view what you know of yourself is more important than what you know of the world. So much so that knowledge of the world isn’t even mentioned. Is this a case of “the worst  / Are full of passionate intensity”?  Charisma is all you need in the age of sheep.

I think a leader pulls us into new places. The rope attached to a dog’s collar is a lead. The whole purpose is wagging your tail on the way to the new place.

Calvino describes the “agile… poet-philosopher who raises himself above the weight of the world, showing that with all his gravity he has the secret of lightness, and that what many consider to be the vitality of the times – noisy, aggressive, revving and roaring – belongs to the realm of death.” A leader pulls us up to a place of lightness and life.

The fatally incomplete list:

What Makes a Leader? Daniel Goleman

wired for intimacy and sociability
December 1, 2011, 4:15 am
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: , ,

People are naturally competitive.  True statement.  Everyone I know, from my earliest days until now, including parents and siblings, my oldest friends, people I studied and worked with, pretty well everyone, is naturally competitive.  But surely competition can’t be a person’s defining characteristic, they must also have other qualities.

When someone says to me ‘people are naturally competitive,’ I tend to think he doesn’t mean that competition is one of  many valid human qualities.  Rather he means that competitiveness is a dominant characteristic in all people.  Depending on who is saying it, he may even mean that being competitive is a fundamental characteristic, that competition is at the very heart of being human, to the exclusion of other characteristics.

Continue reading

a revolution of human relationships: outrospection
October 5, 2011, 9:50 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , , , ,


I have decided to do something new with coromandal, namely to use posts to introduce readers to very good sources of information on given topics.

This first post is an introduction to Roman Krznaric’s blog called outrospection.  It is about – as its subtitle makes clear – “empathy and the art of living.”  I have written several posts in coromandal on empathy, mostly in response to the writing of Jeremy Rifkin for whom the issue is a serious preoccupation.

Krznaric describes the purpose of his writing and the potential emancipatory function of empathy in our lives:

rational detached acquisitive utilitarian
March 12, 2010, 1:22 am
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , ,

Is there exclusive virtue in doing or should we also plan?  People don’t like planners, and heap praises on doers.  She’s a hard worker, they say.  He doesn’t do anything they claim of managers and administrators.

At my last job this system of belief was ritualized and absurd.  People who were unclear but could produce mountains of unclarity in hours that seamlessly flowed into days and nights and weekend days and weekend nights, were demigods in the system.  People like me, who thought there should be a guiding principle, were tolerated but mostly ignored.  This state is epidemic in the places I have worked.

I am reminded of ants when I see people merely working.  Only they achieve less.  The specialist is one who never makes small mistakes moving toward the grand fallacy, says Marshall McLuhan.   There’s always a grand fallacy, in my experience, and if you bring it up people look at you like you’re from mars.  How dare you disrupt our lunatic preoccupation?

What about life, should we make a plan for that?  Or should we forget about the big picture, shun those who would help us see the grand narratives and merely … work?  There could be a better way, if we would just stop and think about it, and maybe make some goals that are a little more thoughtful than putting in 50 hours 52 weeks a year, shunning thought and planning, and striking out on our own, and shopping.

In the quotation below, Rifkin suggests naming what we want — companionship, affection, belonging — identifying these qualities as meaningful and fulfilling, and making goals that help us to achieve them.  Damnation!  You mean my life can be about more than my isolated and narcissistic state and the freedom to work and then shop?

Freedom in the nation state era has been closely associated with the ability to control one’s labor and secure one’s property, because that is the way to optimize pleasure and be happy. The classical economists argued that every individual is free to the extent he or she can pursue their individual self- interest in the material world. Freedom, in the rational mode, is the freedom to be autonomous and independent and to be an island to one’s self. To be free is to be rational, detached, acquisitive, and utilitarian. The role of government, in turn, is to safeguard private property relations and allow market forces to operate, unfettered by political constraints. The conventional American dream is personal opportunity to succeed in the marketplace.

The empathic approach to freedom in the emerging Biosphere Age is based on a different premise. Freedom means being able to optimize the full potential of one’s life, and the fulfilled life is one of companionship, affection, and belonging, made possible by ever deeper and more meaningful personal experiences and relationships with others–across neighborhoods, continents and the world. One is free, then, to the extent that one has been nurtured and raised in a global society that allows for empathetic opportunities at every level of human discourse. The new dream is the quality of life of humanity.

–Empathic Civilization:  Why Have We Become so Uncivil? Jeremy Rifkin