June 29, 2014

Burying the Lead [sic]

Today we're going to be discussing leadership and successful strategies that connect people to opportunities by using networking tools to achieve global solutions.
No, we're not doing that. I would never do that. Don't you ever say anything like that to me. I've actually just been thinking about leading and how often I've been told I am or will be a leader. This is not a humblebrag post. You've probably all heard the same thing at some ineffectively enthusiastic welcome/training/launch event. But unlike you who are just sitting on your hands and not stepping up, I'm using my hands to write while not stepping up.

In the latest X-Mans movie, James McAvoy plays young Professor X, and I couldn't help but identify with his character. I too live in a secluded estate with a biochemist for a butler. I spend my days dressed like Oscar Wilde cosplaying The Dude. Regular injections and Johnnie Walker Black get me through each day of exhausting idleness. But those are just the obvious, superficial reasons why I identify with Charles Xavier.

Like the not-yet-good doctor, I avoid bringing together the people I know and love, probably because I'm afraid of letting myself care too much about them. And I don't think I'm alone with James McAvoy in feeling this way, or I'd just be writing this in my secret diary. Spending a lot of time in your head doesn't just make you forget that you have a physical body that needs to move—not talking about Professor X's wheelchair—it also makes you forget that you have an emotional/spiritual/essential corpus that needs to move. You can lead from a wheelchair, but not from an intrinsic grave.

That got sappy fast. We'll zoom out to less personal discussion. The Roman dictator Cincinnatus classically demonstrates the reluctant assumption of leadership, but Cincinnatus relinquished his ad hoc dictatorship when the hoc was done. Politics is a form of leadership I don't want to think about, so I wonder about ordinary social leadership. And I mean 'social' as in groups of friends or people you know, not social as in 'society'. <Skip to the picture all ye who enter here.> The adjectival form of the latter is usually 'societal', but that's not too helpful a distinction because society is itself a social construction. That intellectual trope is possibly tautological and is vainly repeatable; it can lead to an endless reflexivity of questions uninterested in answers; it can also lead to a retreat into monocausality. It justifiably leaves open the question of who is doing the constructing: Us; Them; 'the patriarchy'; media; 'culture'; culture/media and patriarchy that are necessarily ours in that they're human and here and now and cannot exist divorced from all 'our' lived experience(s); said forces also somehow never inclusive of or influenced by me or mine, but definitely not of/by me individually or I'm totally deluded; just The Matrix and I; all of the above in a combination that leads to a shrug of the shoulders, sigh, and metaphysical defeat, complacency, or acceptance?

That got pedantic fast. I'm sorry, so here's a picture of Gerald Ford with the Queen:

Now I'll return to my original line of thought: "I wonder about ordinary social leadership." In the X-Mans movie, a bunch of people rallied around the professor because he finally surrendered his fears about leading them. He got people to join up by opening himself up, letting himself show that he cared about them. If it had been some forceful presidential campaign,* then the ex-mans wouldn't have shown up. Ordinary social leadership.

So, yeah. While you were just sitting on your hands, I used my hands to write this. That's almost like doing something, and maybe I'll do something too... soon.

*Gerald Ford wasn't elected to the presidency.
P.S. I swear the saga of my three weeks in Scandinavia is forthcoming, just like the sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.