Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pissed: Day Sixteen, or the Long March

Art of WarImage by Emerging Birder via Flickr

Had drinks with Z. earlier this week, who is always an agreeable companion, particularly when one is talking about the difficulties of sorting out one's relationships with the great beast Mankind.

Z., who is as much artist as honcho, has had good jobs, editorships and such. Some of them he walked away from and in some cases he has been walked out of the building, but never dragged out and always with some small bits of integrity intact.

He has never been long between jobs and is thus a confident man and thus an inspiration.

He visits this blog occasionally, and he had noted my earlier posts about being PO'ed, though he said it was pretty darn gauzy just what I was mad about. He said he had supposed there were legal implications, or I was just too lazy to rewrite for clarity.

Frankly, my dear (he said) explain why I should give a damn?

Of course, I was eager to fill him in as long as there was beverage service. As I said he's had some success managing people, the finest high-strung creative types, so his experiences have a certain story-board quality; they seem illustrative and to show the way.

I'm talking furiously -- by which I mean energetically, nothing more -- about this perceived insult and that supposed indignity, and he doesn't say much, just listens.

Finally, he said: "Tell me something interesting."

That's Z. He gives you your money's worth. He's a kind of an anti-therapist. He's not exactly working with you, and he is not afraid to show impatience. He's rude, really, but what semi-genius isn't?

What? I said.

Well, he said, you're angry, and they're angry, and everybody has a case, a side, a perspective, all of which is fascinating, I'm sure, to those on the inside of this argument, who were in the room at the time and "own stock" in the outcome, as it were.

But what *I* want to know is how all the parties in this discord are plugged into the larger power structure, that is, who has allies, who's got backup. Outside the boundaries of this specific argument, out there where no one really gives a damn about what it was that caused all this, *who has got whose back*? I am asking who is on your side if this blows up big. And who is on the side of those with whom you are (let us say) impatient?

Talk to me about the sociogram, the web of influence. Let's not talk about who's right and who's wrong. Let's talk about who's tight and who's strong. (Or words to that effect. I'm tarting this up.)

At which point I said: Oh noes. Now that you mention it, I think I have fallen into discord with the wrong people. To draw on Seinfeld, I am mixing it up with people who have got HAND. I have failed to cultivate relationships with those higher in the food chain.

Oh my.

Just keep that in mind, Z. said. Don't make any sudden moves.

And then he asked me if I had ever read Sun Tzu's Art of War. And I said funny you should ask because I bought a copy for cheap at Barnes and Noble just this Christmas. (This irony, this coincidence, by the way, was the impetus for this post.)

Read it, he said. Any page.

I did. And you know what the Art of War is about?

It's about war! Not very nice reading, my friends, all quite belligerent and depressing. This was the thing most pertinent to my situation I could find.

It is the rule in war. If our forces are ten to the enemy's one, to surround him. If five to one, to attack him. If twice as numerous, to divide our army into two. If equally matched, we can offer battle. If slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy. If quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.

Adios? Run like the devil?

Is that the advice you are giving me,


a friend said...

Shut up. Now.

Anonymous said...

I second what a friend said. Now.

Peter Moore said...

Be as Jim Cramer. A wisp to battle.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

He was hardly there. Very wispy.

Jerry in Arkansas said...

Illegitimi non carborundum