Matthew T Grant

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Tall Guy. Glasses.

Godin Don’t Preach

2542806590_92f8bd299e_mFor a long time it’s kind of stuck in my craw that marketing “thought leaders” seem less like marketing professionals than preachy proselytizers of the human potential movement.

I was thinking specifically of Seth Godin and was grumbling that I would have to dig through his blog to find an example of the aforementioned proselytizing preachiness when, lo and behold, a random Twitter followee pointed me to a post he wrote for JobDig’s What Would Dad Say.

To whit, in a piece entitled, “Don’t Try to Get a Job,” His Seth-ship admonishes us with the following: “Don’t you dare. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that the act of trying to get a job corrupts you. It pushes you to be average, to fit in and to do what you’re told.”

Aside from the problem of telling people what to do (or what not to do, as the case may be) while criticizing a “do what you’re told” mentality, the word that jumped out at me was “corrupts.” Specifically, how did we move from the pragmatic issue of looking for work to the moral peril of falling from purity to corruption?

I understand that, upon our exile from Eden, we were cursed to toil by the sweat of our brow and that, since that dark day, work has been stigmatized as a punishment. I understand also that, in petit bourgeois dreams of small business success, telling people what to do is a mark of honor and indication of membership among the Elect. Nevertheless, I would like to offer an opposing, even dissenting, view.

When we work for someone, we are providing them a service and must of necessity, and within reason, bend our wills to theirs. This is the case whether we are tasked with specific duties within a larger enterprise or whether we are attempting to sell the fruits of our self-directed labor on the open market.

In the latter circumstance as in the first, if not exactly “doing what we are told,” we must at least “do what others want,” and if a source of corruption nests in the one, than it must assuredly be just as at home in the other.

In other words: don’t hate the player (the job seeker), Seth, hate the game (the system in which everybody needs a source of money if they want food, shelter, healthcare, etc.).

Or, to quote the late, great Curtis Mayfield: “If there’s a Hell below/We’re all gonna go.”

Image Courtesy of geraintwn.

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Formalism versus Fundamentalism

106303639_e5fce15c95_mAs some of you may recall, and many of you will not, Frances Fukuyama published a book in 1992 entitled, The End of History and the Last Man. Fukuyama’s thesis therein was that, with the ascendancy of societies combining a free market economy with democratic political institutions, history, understood quasi-dialectically as a series of increasingly dominant and effective social forms, had, as the title suggests, ended.

Fukuyama’s thesis was and is plausible because, like the scientific rationality which forms the third angle of modernity’s powerful triumvirate, the free market and democracy share a distinct formalism. Just as “science” offers not a set of beliefs about the world so much as a method for exploring and solving its many mysteries, “democracy” merely offers a way of formulating laws and maintaining a system of government, without stipulating their specific content, while the “free market” provides general guidelines for the organization of commerce and trade, indifferent to the existence of a particular enterprise or commodity.

This formal abstraction lends to science, the free market, and democracy, a kind of universal timelessness and along with it an aura of finality. At the same time, this formal emptiness, while appealing to the reformer, appalls the revolutionary; the reformer sees in this open-endedness the possibility of continuous improvement; the revolutionary sees it as a failure to instantiate the absolute.

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Do It Now

Speaking with my friend, Rando Calrissian, about a woman who used to work for him, quoth he, “One great thing about her was, if she had something to do, she always did it right away.”

I often think of Rando, and this lady, whenever I’ve got stuff on my plate and I have the option of putting it off or just doing it. The sad truth is that, if I don’t do it now (whenever that may be), there is a strong chance that it won’t get done at all.

If you have made this same experience or are in any way like me in this regard, I strongly urge you to DO IT NOW! RIGHT NOW! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???? C’MON! IT’S NOT GOING TO DO ITSELF!!!!

Got me?

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Is Science Satanic?

“Oh, who can wonder at that old reproach against science, that it is atheistical?” – from The Confidence-Man, by Herman Melville

126871387_bd10728463_mFor a long time I’ve harbored the notion that enmity towards the Devil stems not from the bad things of which he is capable or to which he drives men. Rather, it arises from the fact that the Devil, in his infinite relativism, questions the hard-and-fast division of acts and events into “good” and “evil.” Thus, the truly satanic perspective says, “There is a reality prior to your ethics, even your perception, and it knows neither good, nor evil; good and evil are post-hoc projections onto this neutral stuff.”

Of course, this is precisely the view of science which suggests that all matter is built up from fluctuating, quantum states of energy (or something like that – look, I’m not a scientist.) Science does not see any particular moral value inscribed in the hierarchy of electron shells, Avogadro’s number, or Planck’s constant. Ethical norms are epiphenomenal.

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