In The American Penal Colony – Trumpesque

The title of this blog entry comes from Franz Kafka’s essay In The Penal Colony. Modifying Kafka’s title suggests his allegorical framework can be used to examine America as a penal colony. Wikipedia’s entry says that allegory “is a metaphor whose vehicle may be a character, place or event, representing real-world issues and occurrences. Allegory use as a form of art is “largely because it can readily illustrate or convey complex ideas and concepts in ways that are comprehensible or striking to its viewers, readers, or listeners.” Kafka used allegory as a “literary rhetorical method to convey (semi-) hidden meanings through symbolic figures, actions, imagery, or events, which together create the moral, spiritual, or political meaning the author wishes to convey.” The issue explored, in part here, is how Kafka’s penal colony allegory can help us examine experiences In the American penal colony under Commandant Trump and more generally in humanity.

I started several times to read Wolfgang Giegerich’s psychoanalytical essay “Ending Emancipation from History: Kafka’s ‘In the penal colony’” (1985) and on, 8.8.2017, picked up the paper from my den floor, starring up at me like a Kafka metamorphosing bug  – for sure, this essay has been metamorphosing and will continue doing so. This all began as another of my bookcase experiences – Wolfgang’s article  was calling out, “read me!”  However, shortly after beginning my read, I realized I needed to re-read, to study, Kafka’s In The Penal Colony. So, I started listening to this 65 minute unabridged audio-book  In The Penal Colony – it is subtitled a “horror mystery”, beware, it is – just as many now realize Commandant Trump’s American Penal Colony is horrifying!

In The Penal Colony by Franz Kafka

As I started to study Kafka’s essay, I had a memory of meeting my high school English teacher, Dellis Schrock, at Fargo’s Street Fair. I asked Dellis if we could meet for coffee and next I heard he had passed over. I was looking forward to exploring his knowledge of literature. So, with Robert Romanyshyn’s epistemology as outlined in his book The Wounded Researcher – Research with Soul in Mind close by, I now have Dellis and Franz sitting here at my table looking over my shoulder, participating in what is unfolding – welcome guys! I cannot remember, Dellis, did we read Kafka in your class – can anyone remember? Excuse me for this  dialogue moment, I hope you are both well and reading good books.  The Trail by Kafka – an interesting choice Dellis. I am reminded of Pink Floyd’s The Trial and its demand to “tear down the wall” opposite of Trump’s “to build a wall”. Tearing down a wall is the psychoanalytical challenge to understand the Other first in ourselves and then in Others among us. This is the Deep Jesus, Us  is each of us.

Franz Kafka’s The Trial movie seems to be getting ahead of what is unfolding. However, complexity informs us that what is unfolding is complex – so let’s get this documented and fermenting – metamorphosing, alchemizing toward what is just & true. And guys, many are now expecting America to soon be having a Trump Trail so, when watching Franz’s The Trial movie, look for a foreshadowing of Trump’s impending trial. There are many parallels, besides Josef K. wanting to “grab” every woman he encounters. An important parallel is that Josef K. and Donald T. both say they are “unaware” of what they are being charged with – “there is no collusion”. Are we seeing in The Trial a future trial of Trump?

So, returning to the main thread of our investigation – the relationship of two horror mysteries: Franz Kafka’s In The Penal Colony and Donald Trump’s sequel In The American Penal Colony.  How is Kafka’s Penal Colony story foreshadowing the unfolding horrors in Trump’s real Penal Colony?  The boy protagonist in Haruki Murakami‘s novel Kafka on the Shore,  calling himself Kafka, imagines the colony machine as “a substitute for explaining the situation we’re in.” So, when we watch the following short Penal Colony movie, I suggest again that we note the parallels in our unfolding Trumpesque Colony – the scariest is the issue of “torture” by the machineAmerican Culture, that Trump is now reconstructing in his demented effort to carve into American flesh his desires.

In the Penal Colony – Short Film

My bookcase was not finished calling to me – this time to pick up Giegerich’s Volume III Soul Violence and turn to Chapter Nine The alchemy of history. This chapter is 61 pages, with Part I Salvation from History: Historicism, Natural Science, Psychology beginning with this quote from Goethe’s letter to Wilhelm von Humboldt 12.01.1831: “I  willingly admit, that in my high age everything is becoming more and more historical to me: whether something happened in the past, in distant kingdoms, or is happening spatially quite close to me in the present moment, is quite the same, indeed, I myself more and more appear historical to myself.” I was struck by how this beginning quote is an experience that is now happening to me in my old age. It is now apparent that there is a personal element, a mystery of some sort, slowly being chiseled into my hide – ouch, this hurts!

After a short introduction, Part I: The invention and production of the past and the second section, The bottomless of history make up Giegerich’s theoretical paradigm – and this is tough deep reading! I am reminded of Romanyshyn’s advise that reading with a struggle is necessary to advance consciousness, which is the theme of living under the First and then  Second Commandant – the advance of consciousness is alchemical – dialectic analytical. In an interview, Haruki Murakami reveals the secret to reading his novel lies in reading it several times: “Kafka on the Shore contains several riddles, but there aren’t any solutions provided. Instead, several of these riddles combine, and through their interaction the possibility of a solution takes shape. And the form this solution takes will be different for each reader. To put it another way, the riddles function as part of the solution. It’s hard to explain but that’s the kind of novel I set out to write”. What are the riddles in Trump’s penal colony? Can we make sense of what is happening and craft a solution?

Several years ago, I had read Part I alchemy of history and when as I finished re-reading it recently, I was surprised to see that Part II was Ending salvation from history: Kafka’s “In the penal colony. The other shorter separate Giegerich essay is here but now more deeply addressed. As I mentioned, understanding this is metamorphosing and several more readings are needed before having a fuller understanding of the riddles in the processes of advancing consciousness. Giegerich states his final point thus: “In the same way that the condemned prisoner in Kafka’s story mindlessly and uncomprehendingly endures what happens to him, the modern consciousness of the Explorer stands ignorant vis-à-vis what is happening and attempts in a variety of ways to defend itself against the heart-rending pain caused by the Harrow digging into him, in the mistaken belief that he can escape the collapse, which has long ago taken place, or expose it as something unreal. Among the defense mechanisms that it deploys are appeal to ethical responsibility and emotional dismay, political and social activism, confessions of quilt and hubris, stubborn insistence on human rights, a clinging to religious or tradition, of secularism, and of socialist activities, or the liberal’s condemnation of irrationality, mysticism, and imperialist forces. All these attempts to keep out of what is really happening – namely, the breaking away of the ontic basis of our being and our collapse into the  unknown, underworld depths of the ontological – while nevertheless mediating between the redeemed consciousness and the factual, now indisputable existence of the new program diagram in the now-operating machine. But the ignorance of the person exposed to the apparatus and his clinging to the familiar perspective oriented towards his ontic mastering of life is part of the essence of the machine, which is always beyond one’s horizon and which has long since started to work on the person strapped into it before he even notices what is happening to him and, especially, before enlightenment begins to come to him.” (413).

This is an extraordinary conclusion that describes what Americans are currently living through with President Donald Trump and we need a new word to describe what is unfolding. We have been exploring Kafka’s book In The Penal Colony as an analogy to America’s unfolding story and the underlying literary framework in this essay relies on Kafka’s work described as Kafkaesque. There is now sufficient experience with Trump to coin the word Trumpesque. The following clip What makes something Kafkaesque uses Kafka’s The Trial to illustrates the impending trial of Donald Trump. Reading “In The Penal Colony’ as an allegory of history is how Giegerich approaches his essay on the alchemy of history. We can use What makes something Kafkaesque? to begin construction on what is unfolding as Trumpesque.

What makes something ‘Kafkaesque?

So, this clip gives us elements of what is Kafkaesque and by extension a view of what Trumpesque is beginning to look like. However, I sense a problem in uncovering what is Trumpesque is that Trump has never clerked in an office like Kafka. Trump has no real-life experiences at the bottom of the organization, only those at the top of his own. This clip makes the point that “It is not the absurdity of bureaucracy alone but the irony of the character’s circular reasoning and reaction to it that is emblematic of Kafka’s writing.” His writing acts as a “mythology to our industrial age, employing dream logic to explore the relationships between systems of arbitrary systems of power and the individuals caught up in them.” I caught myself hoping Trump will soon wake up in Kafka’s story Metamorphosis and find himself transformed into bug unable to get to work. Or like in Kafka’s story, The Hunger Artist, when Trump sees his reality-act loses popularity, he will starve himself to death, realizing his “art of the deal” has always been a fraud. There is humor in Kafkaesque but is there humor in Trumpesque? Okay, SNL, we still do have the power to create.

We end with Kafka’s story The Judgment, which has many interpretations. Russel Berman suggests that “the exiled friend in Russia exerts considerable power over the other characters—Georg, his father, and his fiancée, Frieda. In his diaries, Kafka wrote that the friend is the strongest connection between Georg and his father, for it is through this link that his father is able to reassert himself as paterfamilias and his son’s enemy and that Georg is able to submissively accept him as such. Kafka goes on to relate that the fiancée exists, in a tangential sense, only because of the father-son bond that the absent exile creates.” This appears to be giving us an uncanny view into Donald’s relationship with his father Fred, his impending marriage to Ivana, in the midsts of business discussions with a Petersburg Russian acquaintance – named Vladimir? Georg commits suicide by jumping off a bridge – not a wall!

The Judgment By Franz Kafka

To be continued with a deeper probe into Giegerich’s thesis in Volume III Soul Violence Chapter Nine The alchemy of history.

References:

Giegerich, Wolfgang, David L. Miller, & Greg Mogenson. 2005. Dialectics and Analytical Psychology: The El Capitan Canyon Seminar. New Orleans: Spring Journal Books.

Giegerich, Wolfgang. 2007.  Volume III Soul ViolenceNew Orleans: Spring Journal Books. Chapter Nine The alchemy of history.

Kafka, Franz. 2018. Collective works presented above.

Trumpesque Blog Posts: 

Bulworth “Lonesome” Trump
Posted on January 15, 2016

Donald Got His Gun
Posted on January 25, 2016

The Fool and The Magician
Posted on March 14, 2016

Air Kiss of Death
Posted on July 21, 2016

Dark Knight Rising
Posted on July 22, 2016

I Ching on Trump
Posted on August 12, 2016

Trickster Trump
Posted on September 25, 2016

Atlas Shrugging
Posted on October 10, 2016

Trump A Killing Trick
Posted on October 12, 2016

Trump: A Space-Time Traveler
Posted on October 24, 2016

Trump: A New Moses
Posted on October 25, 2016

Cyclops Trump Amor Fati
Posted on November 11, 2016

Trump Wins
Posted on November 14, 2016

The Trump Borg
Posted on November 23, 2016

Trump Hyper Normalisation
Posted on November 29, 2016

Trump Proposal
Posted on December 5, 2016

Anonymous Trump
Posted on December 14, 2016

Trump’s Ode to Joy
Posted on December 16, 2016

Trump Watching Over All With Loving Grace
Posted on January 4, 2017

Trump Death Before Dishonor
Posted on January 6, 2017

Black Swan Trump
Posted on January 12, 2017

Black Swan One Dimensional Man
Posted on January 20, 2017

The I Ching on Trump’s Election – Gathering Together
Posted on February 20, 2017

The I Ching on Trump’s Election – Wooing
Posted on March 9, 2017

Sly like a fox
Posted on August 29, 2017

Fuck You Donald
Posted on March 26, 2018

America’s Sandy Hook is Germany’s Auschwitz
Posted on April 7, 2018

Our Modern Odyssey
Posted on 

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Our Modern Odyssey

IN-SHADOW – A Modern Odyssey – Animated Short Film

Anonymous – Incredibly Honest Animation Shows What’s Happening In the “Shadow” of Our Society

You Will Wish You Watched This Before You Started Using Social Media | The Twisted Truth

Aldous Huxley interviewed by Mike Wallace : 1958

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

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America’s Sandy Hook is Germany’s Auschwitz

I received a message from a high-school classmate commenting very positively on Ed Raymond’s most recent HPR column, Enough to make you puke, on the Parkland school shooting. He is calling for us to rise up and support the students now marching for gun controls. I have recently made a decision to try and change the way our culture influences my well-being. I cancelled Dish Network service so no TV in the house – sad, I had to miss Roseann’s comeback. I still have internet service but it is mainly used for research/writing purposes. However, I still peek into The Rachael Maddow Show, now selectively and without commercials, in order to keep an eye on what Mueller, Stormy, and our Teens are up to. Years ago, I stopped the Fargo Forum but still get Time Magazine, and I only access local TV News for the morning weather report. I had not read the HPR this year and am pulling back from Facebook and YouTube visits, Zuckerberg’s intrusions are most troubling – I hope he and LaPierre soon gets drawn & quartered. Whew, where is this coming from?

It just dawned on me. I was recently identifying a book my son Aaron and I could read and discuss together. I had gone to my bookshelf and taken out Hesse’s Steppenwolf and Thoreau’s Walden for us to consider. The next day an Amazon package arrived for Aaron, it was Walden and he then told me it had been assigned in his NDSU English class for next week. This was synchronistic and we set about reading it together, expecting like in years past I would be able to attend his class.

We prepared reading half the book for the first-class session. I soon realized that as Thoreau was in the process separating from society, moving to his pond, I also was separating and moving away into an upper-room den. Then the professor said I could not attend. Aaron was having some issue with the young professor but this was not why I wanted to attend. Every year I have attended one of his English classes, with no problem. I called the administration and was lectured on the Federal Regulation protecting the civil rights of the other class members. The professor, if agreeing, would then have to follow a maze of regulation. I must admit, I was itching to interact with him – knowing how Aaron was challenging him, he probably wanted nothing to do with a contentious 74 old year old who thinks he the new 24-year-old. I didn’t blame him, at times I can be cantankerous.

I used to read the HPR, published a few essays there and penned a few letters to the editor. After reading Ed’s most recent column, looking at several others, I was reminded of why I had stopped reading his column. Ed is a good Gadfly writer, however, I am not now into his writing style. Ed is good at outlining an issue but not so apt at providing deeper analysis and solutions, if in fact there are any. I know there is a role for Ed’s kind of writing, however, it seems he rarely goes ‘deep’ into the psychoanalytical-state of the issues. Here it may seem to be the ‘deep-state’ in our lives – we know who reminds us of this, however, Trump has no idea of what ‘psychoanalytically deep’ means. Trump himself needs to be on a couch!

My classmate mentioned that one of our high-school teachers Mr. Olson had his students read W. Cleon Skousen’s The Naked Communist, I still have this book and wondered how I came to own it – but I never had Olson for a teacher so, I am thinking, it must have been more widely assigned. What we should have been and now be reading is The Naked Capitalist but not Skousen’s book by this title – a different one, not written by a John Birch Society member, which Skousen was. One has to wonder what Olson’s political views were or who authorized the reading of this book. I see Olson probably to the right of another of our teachers, Mr. Barney, who I see as a progressive. Can you imagine a Native American wife in 1960 Fargo. How about reading and discussing Capitalism and Schizophrenia with the reading notes by Deleuze and Guattari.  Yes, I know where this suggestion is going with current Facebook mentality.

Children lined up to German camp

I do not think my classmate needed to pull his punches with other classmates supporting the NRA’s gun stance. Mr. Barney, wrestling coach, would never suggest we jeopardize a match by being gentle on an opponent – the take-down is the first and important move. Supporters of the NRA’s position should be ‘shot-in-their-footsies’, preferably in their  big toes – taking them right off, let them bleed red-blood like the children of Sandy Hook. I now see my classmate as unwilling or worse not knowing he needs to challenge the system of capitalism – it is more than mental health.

Which brings me to the title for this blog, pause here for a moment and reflect on this title… Read it again… What images comes to you? Sheer Horror? Our children lined-up to enter their American schools (Clara Barton and Horace Mann) as German children lined up to enter Auschwitz. I suspect we now will be having nightmares – oh,  the power of nightmares!                                                

Last night I was re-reading Romanyshyn’s book the Wounded Researcher’s Chapter 12 Writing down the soul and this passage on the qualities of writing necessary to write with soul in mind, stimulated this blog title. Romanyshyn writes that, “All of these qualities characterize the metaphoric sensibility, in which the appeal of metaphor is through an image that it evokes, which is neither an empirical fact nor rational idea. To say that “Jefferson Davis is the Lincoln of the South” is not to proclaim a fact. Nor is it just a mental idea. The metaphor presents an image between fact and idea, which invites a way of seeing that opens a world of possibilities that might become a work. Hence, I would argue that the alchemical art of writing inclines one through an image toward a vision of something. The art of alchemical writing is not, therefore, about convincing the reader through facts and ideas about some truth, but rather, of persuading him or her to see, through an image, some issue in a particular way, to look at it from a specific perspective. In this respect, psychological writing, writing that makes a place for the unconscious, writing that keeps soul in mind, is a rhetorical art” (325).

I have been trying to raise images from this title, America’s Sandy Hook is Germany’s Auschwitz. This is frightening, in fact, I actually hesitated using active imagination for what I actually feared it might conger up! You try imagining into this title and see what you experience – “what are the possibilities that might become a work”? Here is GK Chesterton’s outline of sanity that might be part of the possibilities. Does this seem farfetched? The Outline of Sanity.

Yes, it seems farfetched because as Pinky suggests to overcome structure, power, and agency in our way of living, we would need to commit class treason and this is a very challenging task! Pinky begins by stating, “A child dies every 5 seconds from not having enough food to eat.” Oh, is it time for our class lunch by the lake. Enjoy, however, next time let’s be thinking and discussing what does it mean to commit class treason. This clip ends with a university professor (hitting close to home) telling his wife he is planning to commit class treason, giving up his position, and then comes to the conclusion with their mortgage payment due – this needs more thought!

Where are all the children going?

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I, Robot

Some interesting news on the MSNBC Morning Joe Show  7/18/17. Elon Musk issued another warning against runaway artificial intelligence, stating “AI is an existential risk to mankind”. Even more than Trump? Here is Musk’s warning …

And here is Musk’s full interview. “Musk on Regulating Existential Threat of AI Robots”

Wikipedia’s entry for “Existential risk from AI” is this. “The argument for the existence of the threat is that the human race currently dominates other species because the human brain has some distinctive capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. If AI surpasses humanity in general intelligence and becomes “superintelligent”, then this new superintelligence could become powerful and difficult to control. By way of example, just as the fate of the mountain gorilla depends on human goodwill, so might the fate of humanity depend on the actions of a future machine superintelligence.”

I then remembered “The good-ol days – when people killed people” from the movie I, Robot, where I think Musk’s AI programing challenge is described. The year is 2035, only 18 years hence, when robot technology has created “trusted beings” in our homes, schools, offices, and can we hope in government. However, something is going wrong when a renowned robot designer, Dr. Lanning is found murdered. Robo-phobic police detective Del Spooner, robo-psychologist Dr. Calvin, and Sunny a prototype robot with human emotions team together to stop Musk’s existential threat to mankind – a real terminator.

In this interrogating scene from I Robot, before detective Spooner enters the room to interrogate Sunny, he winks at another detective, which Sunny immediately registers and then askes Spooner what the wink means. Spooner says “it is a sign of ‘trust’ that robots would not understand.” Sunny responds that his father, the murdered scientist Dr. Lanning, tried to teach him human emotions – they are very difficult, Sunny says. Something like passing health care legislation – you thinks? Sunny says he was hiding at the crime scene because he felt frightened – Spooner says robots do not feel fear, they do not feel anything. Sunny says “I do, I even have dreams”. “No,” Spooner says, “you do not dream, human beings dream, even dogs dream, but not robots.” Then Spooner tries to put Sunny in his place by challenging him, that he can not write a symphony, to which Sunny asks, can your write a symphony – of course Spooner cannot and begins to realize he is being challenged by new level of robotic intelligence.

Spooner still probes the case with his assumption that Sunny is ‘simulating human emotions’ and killed his farther, designer, Dr. Lanning. This pushes Sunny to slam his fists onto the metal table they are sitting at, denting it 3 inches. Spooner recovers from the outburst and says, “That emotion is called anger.” Sunny insists that he did not kill Dr. Lanning and wonders if it was something he did, self-reflective, that caused his suicide? Then Sunny reveals that Lanning was troubled about something and had asked Sunny to do something for him. Spooner is now very curious, sits forward to learn more as Sunny asks, “When you love someone you have to help them, don’t you?”

So, here is a project, it seems, Elon Musk, son Aaron, and other programmers are working on. How to program anger and love into a robot? I think we begin with what are the origins of human anger and then how love next is evolving. We need to understand that this evolution is occurring now? What makes us angry and how does anger evolve into love? A nice day-project for the 70s some – before the Terminator arrives. Seems the Terminator evolved, how so? Science fiction leads reality is many ways – the challenge is tracking this.

Singularity University Summit

 

 

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Fuck You Donald

When news broke that John Bolton was to be appointed by President Trump as his National Security Adviser, I had an intuition in watching Adam Curtis’s documentary The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom that Bolton had appeared in it. So, I re-watched the documentary which has three parts.  Part 1 – Fuck you buddy examines the rise of mathematical modeling of human behavior called Game Theory developed by John Nash who won a Nobel Prize for this work and was depicted in the movie A Beautiful Mind. The central issue underlying game theory is that human behavior is selfish and so ‘fuck you buddy’ – only I win. Nash’s theory was behind the mutually assured destruction strategy in the Cold War. So, a question as this strategy filtered into economic/management/administrative theory & practice is what was assuredly being destroyed? Bolton as a person was not present in part one, however, I began to understand why his appointment triggered my intuition – he assured my family’s destruction!

Part 2 – The Lonely Robot continues developing the theme of selfishness but takes a different slant and presents the rise of the drug culture introduced with drugs like Prozac, which were being prescribed to normalize human behavior to a standard of ‘normalization’ we were being told to desire – corporations wanted human behavior to be more predictable, like their machines. Curtis suggests that this is not a conspiracy, “but is a logical outcome of the market-driven culture of self-diagnosis governed by check-lists of every-day symptoms of human emotion”. I question this and one has to only watch Curtis’s documentary The Century of the Self to see how Corporations and The Trump Presidency manipulates, lies about truth. Now, I clearly see Bolton in the person of economist James Buchanan, whose ideas underlie the neoconservative strategy that is presented.

Part 3 – We Will Force You To Be Free is the final part and presents Isaiah Berlin’s concepts of positive and negative liberty that he introduced in a 1958 essay. Curtis describes this episode as explaining “how negative liberty could be defined as freedom from coercion and positive liberty as the opportunity to strive to fulfill one’s potential”. Somehow this does not hit the nail on its head. It seems positive freedom can be seen as the US’s “manifest destiny to democratize the world”. Berlin defines it as the answer to the question “What, or who, is the source of control or interference that can determine someone to do, or be, this rather than that?” While negative liberty is the individual’s right to be left alone to live his life as he/she chooses. Berlin  defines negative liberty as addressing this question: “What is the area within which the subject – a person or group of persons – is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons” (Two concepts of liberty).

What is so depressing in Part 3 is seeing these two liberties never being understood. Curtis says that “It is this outcome that summarizes the entire series, contextualized both by the emergence and convergence of the ‘New Left’ (epitomized by the current age of individualism), with the right’s pursuit of “personal liberty” on a global scale with disastrous consequences.” Wars more wars everywhere there is killing!

In part 3, I recognize that Bolton soon to be Trump’s chief executioner follows in the footsteps of Elliot Abrams, President Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of State 1981-89.  Reagan’s Project Democracy lead by Abrams is about to become President Trump’s Project Democracy with North Korea first in Bolton’s sites – bomb North Korea into submission. It was recently reported that “Abrams was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first pick for Deputy Secretary of State, but that Tillerson was subsequently overruled by Trump. Trump aides were supportive of Abrams, but Trump opposed him because of Abrams’ opposition during the campaign.” It now appears that Trump will get an even more dangerous henchman in Bolton, to carry out bloody murder in the name of US democracy.

Isaiah Berlin Interview on Freedom

In this documentary there are several clips of John Nash explaining this involvement in designing the US’s nuclear strategic strategy. At one point Nash says he realized that his idea of selfishness is wrong, saying this was a “personal enlightenment”.  Here from the movie A Beautiful Mind is the moment of Nash’s peak experience, when he realizes Adam Smith idea of doing what is best for only one’s self is incomplete and needs to be modified to “doing with is best for oneself and for one’s group”. “If we all are going to get fucked by one of these beautiful young ladies, we cannot all go for the blonde – “governing dynamics: ignore the blonde”. Donald, you should have ignored Stormy Daniels! Can you still feel the spanks she gave you?

I close with this idea. My initial intuition was how John Bolton, as Trump’s National Security Advisor, might advise him and how this will affect the World? I suggest that if we look closely at James Buchanan, Elliot Abrams, Ayatollah Khomeini, others, and World history here in The Trap, we can begin to psychoanalytically understand the ‘trap’ we have set for ourselves. We need to deeply understand  what is going on? Why are we not understanding the ‘Other’! How does one begin doing this – Hacking into the Trap?

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Sense8

I picked up copies of the HPR on Friday, 9.8.2017, when I went for lunch at Tailgators Bar & Grill with classmate Terry Steinweg (FCHS 63) where we ran into Tom Olson (FCHS 62) who was having lunch with his handball trophy winning friend Denny Tallman. At one point, I passed them the latest issue of the HPR calling attention to Ed Raymond’s The Gadfly column, “Arpaio vs Kaepernick: Who will win out?” However, the HPR column I had first read was Faye Seidler’s Trans Corner, “A love letter to Lana Wachowski”, on her encounter with Wachowski’s (Matrix writer/director) Sense8 Netflix series. I also really like Sense8 and am currently watching Season 2 Episode 8. I will return to Ed’s column and my meeting with Tom, when i again visit the topic of synchronicity.

Faye’s Trans Corner column focuses on sexuality, an important element of Sense8’s story-line and Faye writes specifically about the transsexualism of Nomi Marks, a computer hacker, played by Jamie Clayton, a transgender woman. Faye asks “What makes ‘Sense8’ so powerful? What about it calls so many people to action?” She answers, “Each person has their own reason, but I suspect it has to do with the show being about the celebration of life and what it means to be human. It does this by inviting viewers to see stories, cultures, and lived experiences beyond their own”. And then Faye, nails it writing that Sense8 … “bears witness to the live births of eight people of different backgrounds and cultures”.

I agree with Faye’s statement but will add another element that attracts me, present tense, since I will watch for the first time S2E8 when I finish this Morning Page. The excitement for me is witnessing these 8-diverse individuals coming together to form a sensate/intellectual/support team pitting as Faye’ points out “an evil corporation that drives the story’s main conflict”. If I was back at UND teaching team-management, this would be an assigned series to watch. In most classes, I would assign a currently playing movie, relevant is some way to our unfolding theories, and attend together with the class – I bought the popcorn. At Concordia  College, we went to The Social Network depicting Mark Zuckerberg’s rise to his now billion-dollar corporate empire – here is an“evil corporation”. Interesting, Zuckberg’s corporation is now part of the investigation into the Russian’s “hacking” of U.S. elections! We are tuned in!

The Social Network – Hacking scene

Faye’s psychoanalytical analysis of Nomi in Sense8 is deep and important she says for LGBTQ+ people! Her analysis can be applied to all team-members, but for me it is being applied to the “evil corporation” and its role in ‘globalization’. I saw this theme emerging in S2E4 when we are told there are other Sense8 groups in the world that are now coming tougher. I am looking to see how this theme ends in Season 2, for we are told that this is the last season. So, I join Faye’s disappoint in that the Netflix Sense8 series looks to be ending. I wonder about writing script for a Season 3.

Let me end with a scene where Capheus “Van Damn” Onyango matatu driver in Nairobi, a fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme, meets an English educated Nairobi woman and is told by her office mates, he has no chance with his big dick because she like girls. When they next meet, Capheus mentions this news and she responds “Yes, I had a relation with this woman, however, I fall in love with the person not the genitals”. The next scene they are entwined in passionate loving. Kind of invites one to join in – yes? Of course, this is the deep message of Sense8!

Sense8 Capheus Speech “Love is not a Wall but a Bridge”

Ed’s column was not as interesting as Faye’s, da, but what caught my attention is Ed beginning with, “Sometime in the future we may teach real history, not reality history, not fake history. The truth is that 8 of our president staffed their White House with slaves personally owned by them – and ran a government from a capitol building mainly built by slaves.” This morning I recorded this dream: I was following a sequence of ideas, situations from left to right, past to present, and when I got to now, I woke up. I am now ‘sensing’ that ‘the power of now’ begins Sense8’s Season 3, Episode 1.

A cottage industry of analysis has grown up around the Matrix movies and this documentary Philosophy and the Matrixx – Return to the source is one of the best. You can enjoy it at your leisure as you consider a similar philosophical analysis of Sense8 in The Philosophy of Sense8 | Emotion and Connection.  Let’s get Sense in the new year! What does this mean? What are New Year Resolutions to commit to? What does commit mean? Happy New Year!

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The Lost Keys to Management

Introduction

“I think, therefore, I am” has long been man’s distinguishing characteristic. But, exactly where does thinking take place? Early ideas located thinking in the heart, the gut and along the spinal cord. The Chinese ideogram for think, xiang, has the ideogram xin, meaning heart, as part of its construction, which in the past may reflect the Chinese location of this function. Today, most scientists locate the function of thinking inside the brain. And the way man’s brain “thinks” or to use psychological terminology “processes information” has become a major concern to psychologists and managers.

The Mind in Everyday Affairs

Bell Telephone executive Chester I. Barnard, over 40 years ago, recognized the importance of the “mind in everyday affairs”. In the appendix of his book, Functions of the Executive, he identifies the logical process of the mind as conscious thinking, which utilizes words and symbols, and is referred to as reasoning. The non-logical process is unconscious (intuitive) which is built up from experience and the surrounding environment. Barnard identified the thinking styles of different functional managers, but maintained that the effective manager will have access to either process depending upon the situation. His estimate of the balance of these two processes is: “Logical reasoning process is increasingly necessary but is disadvantaged if not in subordination to highly developed intuitional process.1 Executives such as Alfred P. Sloan of General Motors and Conrad Hilton of Hilton Hotels have made similar endorsements for the role of intuition in their decision-making processes.

Approaches to Human Information Processing

Since Barnard’s recognition, psychologists and management scholars have conducted extensive studies on human information processing, HIP. Three approaches can be identified: The first approach develops a heuristic model describing how an individual makes a decision in a complex situation.

The second approach to HIP focuses on the cognitive complexity of the individual’s conceptual system. Four decision making styles have been identified based on (1) the use of a single or multiple focus and (2) the amount of information utilized. The four styles are: decisive (single focus, low usage), hierarchic (single focus, high usage), flexible (multiple focus, low usage), and integrative (multiple focus, high usage). In addition, an individual’s interaction with environmental complexity is analyzed in order to understand the most efficient combination of information processing configuration. An important application of this approach is the matching of managers to decision situations.

The third approach emphasizes the dual nature of HIP and identifies styles that are qualitatively different from each other. Decision-makers using logical routines are classified as analytic or systematic and those using more non-logical routines are classified as unsystematic or intuitive. The duality of HIP is extensively supported by neurological evidence and also has a well developed philosophical/ psychological foundation, which suggests we consider this approach more closely.

The Duality of HIP

Substantial neurological evidence indicates that the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body and the right hemisphere directs the left. Roger W. Sperry and his associates have tested patients who have had a surgical operation in the treatment of epilepsy, which severs the corpus callosum connecting the two hemispheres of the cerebrum. These tests clearly illustrate the hemispheric specialization. For example, an object, such as a key, placed out of sight in a person’s left hand, cannot be named. The left hand communicates to the right hemisphere that a key is being held, but this information cannot be communicated to the left hemisphere where speech is controlled. The person knows what is being held with one mind, but is not able verbally to express it with the other. Later, when the person is given several objects, including the key, and asked to select the previously given object with his left hand, the key can be identified, although the person cannot state verbally just what he was doing.2

In another experiment, a woman is shown a picture of a nude woman in a series of otherwise routine pictures by only showing it to the left side of each eye, which registers in the right hemisphere. At first she reported seeing nothing, but simultaneously blushes and seems uncomfortable. Her “conscious” left hemisphere is only aware that something has happened to her body, which the “unconscious” right knew and triggered the body reaction.

Although each hemisphere shares the potential of the other, they do tend to specialize. The left hemisphere specializes in logical-analytical thinking, especially utilizing verbal and mathematical functions, which exhibit sequential information processing. The right hemisphere is more holistic/relational and is responsible for orientation in space, body image, recognition of faces, responsibilities requiring a simultaneous information processing. A number of opposites have been proposed to distinguish the left vs. right hemisphere models: Logical vs. non-Logical; sequential vs. simultaneous; objective vs. subjective; deductive vs. inductive; ‘analytic vs. synthetic; active vs. passive; yin vs. yang..

The philosophies of the West and the East also reveal the duality of HIP. Western philosophy’s Greek heritage views nature as dark, chaotic and in need of human control and rationality. This has led to the Western scientific method characterized by action, encountering, manipulating, dissecting, which aligns with the left hemisphere of rational processing.

In contrast, Eastern philosophy considers nature to be in harmony with man and the human response is to flow with its rhythm. The “emphasis” here then is to consider how disorder arises and can be avoided, which aligns with the right hemisphere of non-logical processing. The Chinese, “wu wei” or “taking no unnecessary action” expresses this attitude. The Taoist circular symbol of overlapping dark and light, yin and yang symbolized the unity of hemisphere differentiation and represents a goal to be reached in our individual development.

A number of psychological theories could be presented in order to represent this foundation, but the work of Carl Jung provides a particularly useful one, since he was keenly interested in the Chinese Tao if[ . Jung’s personality theory identifies two HIP dimensions.3 These are perception (receiving information) and judging (manipulating information). Perception can be via the senses (S) which is a conscious process or via intuition (N) which is unconscious.

Additionally, there are two modes of judging; thinking (T) which is rational inference and feeling (F) which is value oriented discriminations. Either mode of perception can pair with those of judging, resulting in four distinct HIP styles: sensing-thinking (ST), intuition-thinking (NT), sensing-feeling (SF), and intuition-feeling (NF). Although all four styles are present, and considered to be inherent in the individual, each person has a constitutional propensity toward the utilization and development of a superior perception-judgment pairing. This constitutional determinant in combination with environmental opportunities and demands is responsible for shaping the individual’s superior function.

However, individuals are potentially capable of two auxiliary perception-judgment combinations and one inferior pairing. These are usually dormant and underdeveloped. The auxiliary modes share one of the functions, either perception or judgment, with the superior mode, while the inferior mode is the opposite combination of the superior pairing.

Consider the characteristics of a person with an ST processing style. This person tends to utilize sensing for gathering information and rational thinking for judging. He would attend to facts with an impersonal analysis. He is more practical and matter of fact and develops abilities with technical skills in working with facts and objects. One likely occupation would be that of a technician, i.e. an accountant.

Taggart and Robey describe how different managers might respond to a subordinate whose performance has been rated marginal. For example, “An ST manager responds with ‘Improve your performance or you’re fired!’ (factual, impersonal, practical). The NT manager’s attitude moderates a bit with ‘If your performance does not improve, you will be transferred to another position.’ (possibilities, impersonal, ingenious). The SF manager approaches the problem with ‘You need to change, what can we do to help you?’ (factual, personal, sympathetic). And the NF manager suggests ‘You can improve you performance, let me suggest an approach.’ (possibilities, personal, insightful).”4 Any of the approaches might be successful depending on the circumstances and a flexible manager, one whose auxiliary styles are not too rusty, will be able to respond appropriately.

 Measuring HIP Styles

A number of approaches to measuring HIP styles are being utilized in research studies and managerial training sessions. One, which is quite new, is the measurement of physiological state indicators (electro-encephalograms and electrical skin resistance). Doktor’s studies of business executives and operation research analysts, who solved two different types of problems (one analytic the other intuitive) found that executives tended to use more right brain processing on both tasks.5 A second measurement approach infers HIP styles by observing a subject’s problem solving behavior. This approach tries to determine what a person actually does in a certain situation. The third approach infers HIP style from self-description inventories which measures a person’s preference by asking him what he would do in various situations. The Mayer-Briggs Type Indicator; which has had extensive validation, identifies the lung personality types.6 Each of these approaches has advantages and disadvantages and research effort is continuing to improve their reliability and validity.

Implications of HIP for Organizational Functioning

Understanding HIP theory and its research findings has a number of implications in every aspect of organizational functioning. The areas of HIP’s impact can be represented by a series of concentric circles beginning at the center with the ancient Greek motto “Know thy self’. It goes without saying that the effective manager is one who knows his strengths and weaknesses. Reflecting on past decision-making situations is helpful, as well as individual testing to analytically identify one’s style. With this knowledge, effort can be taken to develop one’s auxiliary and inferior styles. Consider Abraham Maslow’s (a Western educated psychologist) call for an Eastern way to understanding one’s self, which emphasizes the right hemisphere process. Maslow states, “….one of the necessary methods in the search for identify, the search for self, the search for spontaneity and for naturalness is a matter of closing your eyes, cutting down the noise, turning off the thoughts, putting away all busyness, just relaxing in a kind of  Daoistic and receptive fashion. . . . and just wait to see what happens, what comes to mind. This is what Freud called free association, free-floating attention rather than task-orientation and, if you are successful in this effort, and learn how to do it you can forget about the outside world and the noises and begin to hear these small, delicate impulse-voices from within, the hints from your animal nature, not only from your common species-nature, but also from your own uniqueness.”7

A second application is the identification of subordinate styles, which can greatly assist interpersonal interactions. For example, the delegation of responsibility to different subordinates requires “fine tuning” in the way you explain what is to be done. Barnard states the challenge: “It requires discerning the mental state and processes of the person to be convinced, adopting his mentality, ‘sensing’, what is valid from his point of view and meeting it by apparently rational expression. . . . . .”8 Knowing your subordinate, peer or superior’s cognitive style should direct you in structuring your interactions.

The third concentric circle represents group decision making. The concept of “operations research” originating in England during WWII, combined individuals with different educational background so that different viewpoints would be brought to the decision-making process. A manager with knowledge of individual cognitive styles can select group members to complement each other and thereby be assured of a more effective and efficient decision-making process. The over reliance on left hemisphere rational processing needs to be counter-balanced with the right hemisphere intuitive processing.

The fourth circle is that of the organization and the knowledge that different departments in an organization tend to have different cognitive styles. Lawrence and Lorsch have identified differences between production, personnel, marketing and R & D departments along the dimensions of time, interpersonal and goal orientation and formal structure.9 Such differences invariably lead to inter group conflict, which can be reduced by sensitizing groups to the differences in cognitive styles.

In considering the final concentric circle of society, the work of Geert Hofstede can be cited. Hofstede defines culture as “the collective mental programming of the people in an environment.”10 Cultural mental programming is a result of the common life experiences and education a group of people share. Hofstede was particularly concerned with the influence a national environment has in producing a national characteristic.

After extensive study and research in one large multinational corporation with subsidiaries in 40 countries, Hofstede identified four dimensions along which nations can differ.11 The four dimensions are:

Power Distance – the extent to which a society accepts the fact that power in institutions and organizations is distributed equally.

Uncertainty avoidance – the extent to which a society feels threatened by uncertain and ambiguous situations and tries to avoid this situation by providing greater career stability, establishing more formal rules, not tolerating deviant ideas and behaviors, and believing in absolute truths and the attainment of expertise.

Individualism-(Collectivism) – Individualism implies a loosely knit social framework in which people are supposed to take care of themselves and their immediate families only, while collectivism is characterised by a tight social framework in which people distinguish between in-groups and out-groups; they expect their in-group (relatives, clan, organizations) to look after them, and in exchange for that they feel they owe absolute loyalty to it.

Masculinity-(Femininity) – High masculinity societies are those in which the dominate values are assertiveness, the acquisition of money and things, and not caring for others, the quality of life or people.

Using the data collected from this one corporation, Hofstede constructs three diagrams by plotting the dimension results two dimensions at a time, i.e. Power Distance X Uncertainty Avoidance; Power Distance X Individualism; and Masculinity X Uncertainty Avoidance. These three diagrams represent what Hofstede calls “a composite set of cultural maps of the world.” The implications drawn from these three maps relate to a nation’s optimum organizational structure, motivation patterns, and leadership style.

Of particular interest to us are the results obtained from the Hong Kong sample. Hong Kong’s results are as follows:

. On Power Distance at rank 33 out of the 40 countries (Measured from below) it is above average.
.  On Uncertainty Avoidance at rank 4 out of 40, it is below average.
. On Individualism at rank 9 out of 40, it is low, indicating a collectivist orientation.
. On Masculinity at rank 24 out of 40, it is slightly above average.

For comparison purposes the rank’s of the United States are 15, 9, 40, 28 and those of Great Britain are 10, 6, 38,33.

Hofstede’s findings have many applications with respect to management practices in differing cultures. For example, a society with a large power distance would not likely accept the low power distance implied in Management by Objective schemes. Or a society with low uncertainty avoidance would not adapt well to a highly formalized organizational structure. Or in more collectivist societies there may be a higher propensity to remain loyal to the organization rather than calculative. And in societies with a high masculinity index, motivating employees would take the form of achievement rather than social incentives. It should be apparent from these few examples that understanding a society’s mental programming is a pre-requisite for effective and efficient transnational management.

A final example at the societal level is drawn from the world of science fiction, since yesterday’s science fiction seems to have a habit of coming true. This can be illustrated with the example of science fiction movie hero Flash Gordon of the 1930’s becoming Neil Armstrong walking on the moon in 1969.

In this same light Isaac Asimov’s science fiction novel Foundation Trilogy may give us a glimpse of how differing societies may come to a mutual understanding of one another; an understanding dependent upon the cognitive development of its leaders. The necessary development is expressed by the First Speaker saying to the First Citizen: “Emotional contact such as you and I possess is not a very new development. Actually, it is implicit in the human brain. Most humans can read emotions in a primitive manner by associating it pragmatically with facial expression, tone of voice, and so on. . . . Actually, humans are capable of much more, but the faculty of direct emotional contact tended to atrophy with the development of speech a million years back. . .. A million years of decay is a formidable obstacle and we must educate the sense, exercise it as we exercise our muscles.”12

Conclusion

The more one experiences the differences between the “East” and the ”West” the more one “feels” the need for a new integration. The development of western rationality, with all its accomplishments, needs “wu wei” of eastern intuition and vice versa. The obstacle to finding the lost keys to management is our own “habits of thought”, which prevent us from following Lao Tz’s suggestion, “one often wins over the world through non-action.”13

The above suggestion of Lao Tz may seem “beyond” the active-analytically trained manager and academician until we review the solid medical evidence showing differences in left/right brain wave occurrences. This fact should attract us into considering more closely how our mind works and what some of the “far out signals”, from ZEN, MEDITATION, ESP, Bio-feedback, Dream Analysis, etc. are signaling. The development of man’s total mind ought to be the goal.

Footnotes

  1. Barnard, I. Chester, The Functions  of the Executive, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1966, p. 301.
  2. Ornstein, Robert E., The Psychology of Consciousness, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc., 1977.
  3. Jung, Carl, “Psychological Types” in the Portable lung edited by Joseph Campbell, New York: Penguin Books, 1976.
  4. Taggart, W. and D. Robey, On the Dual Nature of Human and Management,” Academy of Vol. 6, No.2, 1981, pp. 187-195.
  5. Doktor, R., “The Development and Mapping of Certain Cognitive Styles of Problem Solving”, Doctoral dissertation, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, 1970.
  6. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Palo Alto California: Consulting Psychologists Press, 1962.
  7. Maslow, M. A., Toward a Psychology of Being, New York: D. Van Mostrand Company, 1968, p. 44.
  8. Barnard, op. cit., p. 308.
  9. Lawrence, P. R., and 1. W. Lorsch, Organization and Environment-Managing Differentiation and Integration, Boston: Harvard University Press, 1967.
  10. Hofstede Geert, Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-related Values, Beverly Hills: Sage Pub., 1980.
  11. Hofstede, Geert, “Motivation, Leadership and Organization: Do American Theories Apply Abroad?”, Organizational Dynamics, Summer 1980, p. 45.
  12. Asimov, I., Foundation Trilogy, New York: AVON Books, 1974, p. 242.
  13. Chang Chung-yuan, Tao: A New Way of Thinking: A Translation of the Tao Te Ching with an Introduction and Commentaries, New York: Harper & Row Pub., 1975, 121. 0

Steven Arvid Scherling, BS, MBA, DBA
Lecturer, Department of Marketing & International Business
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Scherling, SA. (1984, March). The lost keys to management. The Hong Kong Manager. Vol.20, No.3, pp.19-22.

 

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