Posts Tagged ‘hierarchy’

From the Editor’s Perch…

November 23, 2013
Looking at it from the Devil's, Devil's Advocate's Position

Looking at it from the Devil’s, Devil’s Advocate’s Position

The Devil’s, Devil’s Advocate

On Failure: the Final Installment


            Well, you can get tired of anything – especially writing and thinking about failure.  On the upside – or downside, depending upon your point of view – a person could go on investigating and writing about failure forever, and still not get anywhere… except for acquiring those deepest feelings of abandonment and self-disgust which mark a real gut feeling for the topic.              After all, we’re probably all hardwired to seek success.  Humans are a hierarchical animal.  As soon as we enter a room the question is “Who’s in Charge?”  Then we arrange ourselves in such a way as makes us most comfortable around power.  Some of us try to be in charge.  Some of us evade being in charge.  Some of us don’t want to have anything to do with the whole scenario.  But, for the most part, if you are going to socialize, then when people listen to you, their first priority in granting you their attention is whether or not you sound ‘in charge’ of whatever it is you are saying.    If you don’t, their attention drifts elsewhere.  This is probably why we all seek success – even if it is never to be granted us, and we know so.  We simply can’t stop.  It’s like wanting sex.


A little thinking about failure is a good thing, I’d say, because we fail much more often than we succeed.  Most people are a marbled confection of a few successes and many failures.  It’s rare we can be gifted in every way.  So understanding the strategies of the failure and utilizing them at times can be helpful.

The thing to remember though, I think, is that failure and success are really quite different animals.  And it’s a mistake to view one as somehow evolving into the other; that if you were to train your dachshund long enough, it would become a greyhound.  Don’t be a fool.  Recognize what you are.  And then move towards the light.  Even a paramecium understands this.  But humans, with their complex ways and books on social theory, often don’t think to do it.  Don’t get stuck.  “Show me the money!” Can be good advice.


These posts about the upside of failure have also been the Devil’s Advocate’s position.  Now, to bring it full circle, I’ll add the Devil’s, Devil’s Advocate position with this observation from a Stanford researcher, Carol Dweck  (who probably didn’t intend this in the way I have it spun):

“Not only weren’t they discouraged by failure, they didn’t even think they were failing.             They thought they were learning.”

–        Carol Dweck,  “Mindset: The Psychology of Success”


How many ‘smarter than anyone else’ failures do you know?  Quite a few, I’d reckon.  Don’t be a fool and think the same thing.  In this fast paced world, more often than not, winning is winning and losing is losing.  That’s it.  That’s all.  End of game.

Photo by Carl Nelson of Jeremy January of Theater Comique

From the Editor’s Perch

August 14, 2010


The Hierarchies


A Little Bit of God

There’s the old joke that life is like pulling a dogsled – if you’re not the lead dog, all you see are assholes.  What does this have to do with Art?  Well, before you can get people to appreciate beauty, first you have to get their attention.  And this is not so easy.  The problem even perplexed Jesus, who famously griped, (with my paraphrase and exclamation point) “Heaven is all around us, if only you have the eyes to see!”   “Well that’s all fine and good,” most reply, “but I’m a practical person and I’ve got to keep my sights on the rear-end of this dog ahead of me.  Go away and don’t bother me.” 

People who have tried to help impoverished artists find that “you give them money, and they just spend it on more art materials.”   What art achieves, at least for that evanescent moment, is to get our eyes off the rear-end of that sled dog ahead of us.  And that’s intoxicating.

 I’m often frustrated when I find reason useless.  But I’m not alone in this quandary.  Sociologist have studied the best way to reform terrorists (perhaps the most fanatical of us all) and found the best way to reform a terrorist is to get them married.  Now, at first blush, does this sound reasonable?

But does being an artist sound reasonable?  As artists start to work each day, we all pray, or meditate, or maybe just mutter a bit, or tie one shoelace backwards for inspiration.  Because a little bit of God can go a long way.

Poster and Photo by Carl Nelson

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