Friday, July 31, 2009

Discount Degas

I sat in on a web seminar (a "webinar" for those of you down with the system) the other day. It was about team building, and honestly it was just something I needed to be able to say I did when it came time to talk about such things with my new boss. It was an hour of pain. The woman leading the course was out of Jersey and talked in anecdotes and illustrations in a practiced way that let me know she was on autopilot.

Overly chipper, she was the kind of girl who constantly reminds the people around her that she's "crazy" in a way that only the truly boring have mastered. Margaret Thatcher once said something like "Being powerful is like being a lady: If you have to say you are, you aren't." It's the same for people who try to cultivate eccentricity. If you're working hard at it, you're just not that weird.

Anyway, the entire presentation derailed the moment she dropped William Golding's name. In the midst of a Q&A about "difficult" work situations, the presenter is suddenly talking about Lord of the Flies.

"This is a book wasted on children. It's not until you're an adult that you can really see how it is the best book ever written about leadership and the mechanics of a team. It's the perfect team building novel."

The snob in me refuses to accept the reference. Here's this amazing piece of high school required reading that is a blueprint for human nature and the creepy corners of our souls, and yet what she walks away with is how the story can be turned into an illustration of getting along with difficult coworkers.

It's like a Matisse print in the conference room. It's hearing "I've Been Loving You Too Long" at a Monster Truck Rally. It's opening a Faberge egg to uncover a peanut crusted turd. It's...Well, you get the idea.

Keep art away from Corporate America. Sneak it in, keep it hidden for yourself, but don't let them see it and don't let them appropriate for their own use. I'm just sayin' is all.

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