Campbell Connections

Strange set of connections materialised whilst I was reading Barbara Tuchman’s “The March of Folly”, hope you’re following this …

I’m reading Tuchman’s March of Folly, because I recalled (incorrectly) Charles Handy recommending it as the best management text book ever written, making all the others redundant. (In fact it was Warren Bennis’ recommendation, Handy’s was Mary Parker Follett’s “Prophet of Management”. Folly / Follett see.)

Anyway Handy was (is) one of my favourite management gurus, folksy style, contemporary of Roald Dahl in Shell in the Dutch East Indies I guess, but I digress; most people will know Handy through his BBC Radio 4 “Thought for the Day” slot. (Odd that I identify with Handy, a lay preacher, when one of the MoQ’ers I seem to have most in common with is Rev Sam Norton.) Handy, together with Tom Peters, I also associate with the management gurus of the 80’s pushing excellence through corporate cultures, and making quality management links to Pirsig’s ZMM, the origin of the MoQ.

Anyway another MoQ’er I have a lot of time for is Dave Buchannan, whose MoQ Conference paper “Fun With Blaspheny” drew on the work of Joe Campbell, in particular “The Masks of God”, in outlining an Orphic myhological screenplay for ZMM and the MoQ. (Incidentally I’ve just received the Jean Cocteau Orphic Trilogy DVD set, and watched the first two “Blood of a Poet” and “Orpheus” so far. At least the second one has a recognisable Orphic plot. Anyway the third one “Testament to Orpheus” was recommended by Pirsig after being moved by David’s paper, but I digress again.)

Joe Campbell’s “Masks of God” was referenced by Pirsig in Lila, his sequal to ZMM, in which he develops his MoQ.

The spooky connection ? Tuchman’s “March of Folly” opens, preceeding it’s introduction, with a quote taken from Joe Campbell’s 1969 foreward to “Masks of God” –

“And I can see no reason why anyone should suppose that in the future the same motifs already heard will not be sounding still …
… put to use by reasonable men to reasonable ends,
… or by madmen to nonsense and disaster.”

So add Joe Campbell and Mary Parker-Follett to my reading list.

Barbara Tuchman’s “March of Folly” is a good read so far; her style made me laugh out loud several times, particularly reading the “Renaissance Popes 1470 to 1530” section, the general depravity leading to the sack of Rome and confirming the Lutheran protestant secession, by way of the Medicis and Borgias, not forgetting Savonarola’s bonfires of the vanities again. Being a major patron of the arts is one thing, but your motives for being so matter. The gist of the book is that govermental (managerial) incompetence knows no bounds, and is a case of folly (cock-up rather than conspiracy) despite ample evidence and means of higher quality actions in the long term self-interest of the institutions governed. Hence the fit with my thesis / manifesto.

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