At Work

7 thoughts
last posted July 19, 2014, 1:39 p.m.

In the workplace, I might respect your skills while not respecting your talents. Different roles have different requirements, different balances of the two. But as you ascend the hierarchy you often find the balance tipping in favor of talent.

'I don't know any of this stuff; you're the expert,' the CEO tells the IT guy, as he waits for his printer to be set up. But there's an inversion of the Hegelian Knechtschaft, a righting of the traditional dynamic: there's the message, It is not worth my time or talents to know this stuff; better I should pay you to know it for me. The slave secretly pities his master for his master's ignorance and dependency; the master pities his slave for his skill—for the degree to which his life energy has been transformed into technical ability, the crude stuff of labor.

Talent, like art, always tends to uselessness. The more of a capacity for idleness, philosophy, reflection—the more of a capacity in the aristocrat or his modern reflex, the CEO, for uselessness, the more brilliant and worthy of his station he may consider himself.

The most perfect leader is the one who has perfectly abstracted himself, until he stops being a leader and becomes a philosopher.

6 later thoughts