Saturday, November 12, 2011

Media Asset Creation: Week 3: The Art of Possibility Chapters 5-8



(FYI: This post should be read with a sense of humor and a southern drawl)
A book report alternative I make available to my students is to offer a gift to either a character in the book or the author, and to explain the reason for the gift.   And so, assuming this freedom, I would like to offer a trip to the Southeast to Ben Zander, one of the authors of the book, The Art of Possibility.  This gift has a dual purpose, first to recognize his extraordinary talents, but also to open him to an experience furthering his human development.

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Kind Sir,

On your trip to the southeastern section of the United States, known in the western world as “The South,” you will discover people who will relish your storytelling talents and people who will challenge the way you portray yourself throughout your book, The Art of Possibility.   Prepare for the trip by packing an etiquette book.  Want a preview? You see, here in the South, when we respect a person’s skills, knowledge, or talents, yet feel it necessary to express disagreement, we present a critique in the form of a question.  Let me caution you that respect does not imply that we view said person as “omniscient”.  It merely means we respect her — or even him.  However, when said person portrays himself as omniscient and our experience argues otherwise, the respect we actually hold for that person regretfully declines.  By the by, as you seem inclined to rodomontade and thrasonical bombast, in The South you’ll find that the wise wait until they have something substantive to offer before they speak.  A conductor’s presumed status or self-regarding swagger will neither intimidate a southern audience nor elicit special consideration.  He shall only produce amused expressions. We benighted southerners have indeed a different way of viewing and greeting the world.  Just something to keep in mind, dear heart, as you plan your adventure to the South!

Too, as you brace for engaging conversations with southerners, consider that it’s not just the heads of hierarchies and large corporations who are shy to admit mistakes.  A keen observer discovers that nobody likes to admit mistakes — including store clerks, kids, housewives, the homeless, the drunken, the unemployed, and those too who work at cultural or philanthropic organizations.  It’s a common human trait, sadly, so perhaps you can tear a leaf out of your own book and bring it here with you. We’ll share favorite (that’s how we spell it here) passages, sip a Bourbon uncontaminated with water, and soon you will feel better. And better! You might gain a better balance and see things as they are. If you weep softly, we shall understand. 

Speaking of taking a leaf out of your book, bring the whole of Chapter 6 with you.  We here in the South will agreeably bless your efforts to not “take yourself so goddamn seriously.”  

Better still, bring sheet music of Stravinsky with you in your suitcase, play that most difficult violin piece, and tell the story attributed to him: “I don’t want the sound of someone playing this passage, I want the sound of someone trying to play it.”   Spontaneous humility and unpracticed sincerity might win back the respect you lost with the self-depiction of your omnipotence. 

But perhaps I err. You know we southerners have issues of our own. So if my perceptions are upside-down, like my pineapple cake, then might it be possible for me to take pupilage with you and learn the intricacies of your world-striding success and storytelling.

Still eager? Good! Now that your bags are packed, come on down, jump over your own fences, come inside, embrace southern culture. Oh, Ben. You might just realize that when we starkly see and acknowledge the layers of opinion, entitlement, pride, and inflation in ourselves, we are closer to clearing them away and being free than those who denounce and call for their eradication in others.  So we welcome you in advance to our gentle honesty and humble kitchens. You may not lose weight during your southern sojourn, given our delicious fare, but you may trim that profile. If you’re open to it, you’ll feel the connection. We look forward to saying, “Y’all come back!”

2 comments:

  1. Wow, this is so much better than just a letter to the author. Very well done.

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