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The Gervais Principle, Or The Office According to “The Office”

The Gervais Principle, Or The Office According to “The Office”
My neighbor introduced me to The Office back in 2005. Since then, I’ve watched every episode of both the British and American versions. I’ve watched the show obsessively because I’ve been unable to figure out what makes it so devastatingly effective, and elevates it so far above the likes of Dilbert and Office Space. Until now, that is. Now, after four years, I’ve finally figured the show out. The Office is not a random series of cynical gags aimed at momentarily alleviating the existential despair of low-level grunts. I’ll need to lay just a little bit of groundwork (lest you think this whole post is a riff based on cartoons) before I can get to the principle and my interpretation of The Office. From The Whyte School to The Gervais Principle Hugh MacLeod’s cartoon is a pitch-perfect symbol of an unorthodox school of management based on the axiom that organizations don’t suffer pathologies; they are intrinsically pathological constructs. Back then, Whyte was extremely pessimistic. Related:  thinking zone

Power Camp Out on the edge of the continent, on the site of a former evangelical retreat, there's a camp where businesspeople confront issues of power and authority inside organizations — issues fundamental to the world of work. Upon arrival, participants forfeit their corporate identities. Upon departure, they lose sleep, crash cars, leave jobs. Here the rules of engagement are different, the mental and physical demands extreme. Act One: Arrivals It's Saturday afternoon. the rain is crazy. and for the 50th time in 25 years, New Hope has virtually no chance of living up to its name. New Hope is a strange place: people enter society in preassigned castes — elites, middles, and immigrants — and the community pops up, Brigadoon-style, at Cape Cod's Craigville Conference Center. "Welcome to New Hope," the counselor says. With that, he excuses himself and the four elites launch into a six-hour whiskey-lubricated discussion of the kind of society they wish to create at New Hope. Act Two: Awakenings

Careerism breeds mediocrity A common gripe of ambitious people is the oppressive culture of mediocrity that almost everyone experiences at work: boring tasks, low standards, risk aversion, no appetite for excellence, and little chance to advance. The question is often asked: where does all this mediocrity come from? Obviously, there are organizational forces– risk-aversion, subordination, seniority– that give it an advantage, but what might be an individual-level root cause that brings it into existence in the first place? What makes people preternaturally tolerant of mediocrity, to such a degree that large organizations converge to it? Is it just that “most people are mediocre”? Something I’ve learned over the years about the difference between mediocrity and excellence is that the former is focused on “being” and what one is, while the latter is about doing and what one creates or provides. This leads naturally to an entitlement mentality, for what is a title but a privilege of being? What’s the way out?

Eddard Stark’s Ethics of Honor ~by Kyle Cupp “Have you no shred of honor?” Ned Stark asks this question to the ever-plotting Lord Petyr Baelish toward the end of A Game of Thrones. The question exposes the Lord of Winterfell’s two biggest failings: 1) he fails time and again to realize that those around him (deceitful schemers he inexplicably trusts) have less care for honor than the Wall has warmth, and 2) his guiding ethical philosophy, so to speak, is as morally insufficient as it is simplistic. No one can say that Eddard Stark isn’t principled and doesn’t endeavor (most of the time) to stay true to his principles. King Robert lies wounded, near death, and has entrusted the kingdom to Ned, having named him Protector of the Realm. “So it would seem,” Baelish says to Ned’s assessment of the situation, “unless…” Baelish concedes the right, but suggests that Ned take the power himself, make peace with the Lannisters, and arrange a few marriages that will further unite the kingdom. For Ned, the matter is simple.

THIRD TIER REALITY Death of the Yuppie Dream The rise and fall of the professional-managerial class. Should we mourn the fate of the Professional Managerial Class or rejoice that there is one less smug, self-styled, elite to stand in the way of a more egalitarian future? Reprinted and condensed with permission from Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office. Every would-be populist in American politics purports to defend the “middle class,” although there is no agreement on what it is. Class itself is a muddled concept, perhaps especially in America, where any allusion to the different interests of different occupational and income groups is likely to attract the charge of “class warfare.” But there is another, potentially more productive, interpretation of what has been going on in the mid-income range. The origins of the professional-managerial class The PMC grew rapidly. The relationship between the emerging PMC and the traditional working class was, from the start, riven with tensions. The capitalist offensive Want to read the rest?

“The Hunger Games” Versus “Battle Royale” – A Critical Analysis of Two Similar Works: Act Two – Why “Hunger Games” is the Dumb American Version of “Battle Royale” Pages This Blog Linked From Here Wednesday, March 21, 2012 “The Hunger Games” Versus “Battle Royale” – A Critical Analysis of Two Similar Works: Act Two – Why “Hunger Games” is the Dumb American Version of “Battle Royale” This Friday, the first big tent-pole release of 2012 hits theatres: “The Hunger Games,” an adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ 2008 smash-hit novel. Today, we’re focusing on what I consider to be an important cultural question: if “Battle Royale” and “Hunger Games” are indeed so similar, then why is one so wildly controversial and the other widely accepted? So without further ado, enjoy Act Two of “The Hunger Games” Vs. Jonathan Lack at the Movies Presents “The Hunger Games” Versus “Battle Royale” A Critical Analysis of Two Similar Works Act Two: What Do You Think a Grown-Up Should Say to a Kid Now? Why “The Hunger Games” is the dumb American version of “Battle Royale” I find it disturbing that “The Hunger Games” film adaptation is coming to theatres without any notable controversy.

Death threats from offended Buddhists | Buddhism for Vampires The picture above is an illustration from a chapter of my Buddhist novel, titled “Lord Buddha.” Apparently, some people who think they are Buddhists want to find it offensive. In fact, some have explained in detail how they will torture, rape, mutilate, and murder me if I don’t take it down. This is quite interesting. The comment thread on that page is somewhat hostile and abusive. American Buddhists may find this surprising, because they think non-violence and benevolence are central principles of Buddhism. That is a bit naive, though. So it might seem that the people threatening to kill me are on solid ground, in terms of historical tradition. However, as far as I know, there is no tradition within Buddhism that condemns “offensive” depictions of the Buddha. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot, for my Meaningness site, about fundamentalism , about the contemporary atomization of meaning, and about how these two interact. Fundamentalist Buddhism, based on Islamism The atomization of politics

A (brief) Critique of LacLau and Mouffe’s Discourse Analysis | Struggleswithphilosophy.wordpress Media as Discourse – Lacau and Mouffe’s social constructivism ‘message without a medium’ In a follow up to a previous post on Deleuze and Guattari’s third major group of strata – alloplastic strata – I will now critique LacLau and Mouffe’s social constructivism. In general, while I see the merits of discourse analysis, I cannot but help feel it is a limited approach to understanding how the world is literally constructed, which is a limitation found in other forms of social constructivism. Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse analysis is an example postmodern theorising that insists on what Derrida terms as the structural undecidability of the social. Overall, a discourse is defined as a ‘differential ensemble of signifying sequences in which meaning is constantly renegotiated.’ On the whole, articulation (and especially hegemonic articulation) seeks to define meaning within a discursive field. Why is this problem? Like this: Like Loading...

“The Hunger Games” Versus “Battle Royale” – A Critical Analysis of Two Similar Works: Act One – Comparing the Original Books Pages This Blog Linked From Here Tuesday, March 20, 2012 “The Hunger Games” Versus “Battle Royale” – A Critical Analysis of Two Similar Works: Act One – Comparing the Original Books This Friday, the first big tent-pole release of 2012 hits theatres: “The Hunger Games,” an adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ 2008 smash-hit novel. So throughout this week, I’m publishing a special three-part article investigating whether or not Collins stole from Takami, and why that informs how we should look at “The Hunger Games.” So without further ado, enjoy Act One of “The Hunger Games” Vs. Jonathan Lack at the Movies Presents “The Hunger Games” Versus “Battle Royale” A Critical Analysis of Two Similar Works Act One: Rumble in the Jungle Comparing “The Hunger Games” to “Battle Royale” I am certainly not the first person on the Internet to point out similarities between “Hunger Games” and “Battle Royale.” Wrong. Similarities Between Books: Similarities Between “Hunger Games” Book and “Battle Royale” Movie

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