Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy

 Dancing in the Streets:  A History of Collective Joy by Barbara Ehrenreich

NY:  Henry Holt and Company, 2006
ISBN-13:  978-0-8050-5723-2

(page 2-3 )  Emile Durkheim's notion of _collective effervescence_:  the ritually induced passion or ecstasy that cements social bonds and, he proposed, forms the ultimate basis of religion.

(6)  But as the anthropologist Michael Taussig writes, "It's the ability to become _possessed_... that signifies to Europeans awesome Otherness if not downright savagery."  Trance was what many of those wild rituals seemed to lead up to. and for Eyuropeans, it represented the very heart of darkness - a place beyond the human self.

(10)  [Victor Turner] recognized collective ecstasy as a universal capacity and saw it as an expression of what he called _communitas_, meaning, roughly, the spontaneous love and solidarity that can that can arise within a community of equals.

(11)  The self-loss that participants sought in ecstatic ritual was not through physical merger with another person but through a kind of spiritual merger with the group.

(23)  In his justly popular book _Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language_, the British anthropologist Robin Dunbar argues for an optimal Paleolithic group size of about 150.

(24)  "Dance," as a neuroscientist put it, is "the biotechnology of group formation."

(33)  As Aldous Huxley once observed, "Ritual dances provide a religious experience that seems more satisfying and convincing than any other...  It is with their muscles that humans most easily obtain knowledge of the divine."

(44)  The rise of social hierarchy, anthropologists agree, goes hand in hand with the rise of militarism and war, which are in their own way also usually hostile ot the danced rituals of the archaic past.

(67)  E. R. Dodds, in his famous _The Greeks and the Irrational_, suggested that hair-tossing might be a universal hallmark of religious ecstasy.
NB:  head banging

(141)  The crushing weight of other people's judgments - imagined or real - would help explain the frequent onset of depression at the time of a perceived or anticipated failure...

(183)  Or, as some revisionist social psychologists put it very recently, the effect of fascism was to convince social scientists that "groups are inherently dangerous."

(186)  We begin with an important distinction:  The mass fascist rallies were not festivals or ecstatic rituals;  they were spectacles, designed by a small group of leaders for the edification of the many.
NB:  Society of the Spectacle - my notes are at https://hubeventsnotes.blogspot.com/2017/04/notes-from-society-of-spectacle.html

(186-187)  At Nuremberg, as at countless other rallies in Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, the only spectacle on display was the military, the only legitimate form of motion the march.
NB:  No dancing

(208)  "rioting" ...according to LInda Martin and Kerry Segrave in their book _Anti-Rock:  The Opposition to Rock 'n' Roll_, "just involved kids dancing in the aisles at theaters;  jiving in their seats;  and stomping, clapping, and yelling a lot - having a good time, in short.  The authorities thought an audience should sit quietly and sedately, perhaps clapping a little at the end of the performance."
NB:  Applause in time in Europe and Latin America, English versus American debate

(211)  The motionless perception required of an audience takes effort, especially when the performance involves the rhythmic motions of others.  As we saw in chapter 1, recent research in neuroscience suggests that thte neuronal mechanisms underlying the perception of motion by another person are closely linked to the _execution_ of that motion by the perceiver.  To see a man marching or dancing, swaying as he plays the saxophone, or simply waving his arms to draw melodies from an orchestra is to ready oneself internally to join in the marching, dancing, swaying, or arm waving.

(214)  NB:  Only one footnote mentions the jitterbugs, none about ragtime and jazz

(218)  Thomas A. Dorsey  "Black music calls for movement!"  Mahalia Jackson wrote, "I want my hands... my feet... my whole body to say all that is in me.  I say 'Don't let the devil steal the beat from the Lord!'  The Lord doesn't like us to act dead.  If you feel it, tap your feet a little = dance to the glory of the Lord!'"

(225)  For most people in the world today, the experience of collective ecstasy is likely to be found, if it is found at all, not in a church or at a concert or rally but at a sports event.  Football, baseball, basketball, and hockey in the United States;  soccer worldwide:  These games now provide what the sports sociologist Allen Guttmann calls "Saturanalia-like occasions for the uninhibited expression of emotion which are tightly controlled in our ordinary lives."

(226)  Sports stadiums, however are round, so "the spectator confronts the emotion apparent on the faces of other spectators."  People may say they are going to see the Browns or the A's or Manchester, but they are are also going to see one another, and to become part of a mass in which excitement builds by bouncing across the playing field, from one part of the stadium to the other.
NB:  No discussion of Roman and Byzantine sports as politics;  no soccer war

(248)  Not only has the possibility of collective joy been largely marginalized to the storefront churches of the poor and the darkened clubs frequented by the young, but the very source of this joy - other people, including strangers - no longer holds much appeal.  In today's world, other people have become an obstacle to our individual pursuits.

(251)  The aspect of "civilization" that is most hostile to festivity is not capitalism or industrialism - both of which are fairly recent innovations - but social hierarchy, which is far more ancient. When one class, or ethnic group or gender, rules over a population of subordinates, it comes to fear the empowering rituals of the subordinates as a threat to civil order.

(255)  It is a measure of our general deprivation that the most common referent for _ecstasy_ in usage today is not an experience but a drug, MDMA, that offers fleeting feelings of euphoria and connectedness.

(259)  People must find, in their movement, the immediate joy of solidarity, if only because, in the face of overwhelming state and corporate power, solidarity is their sole source of strength.

Penelope Reed Doob _The Idea of the Labyrinth:  From Classical Antiquity Through the Middle Ages_
Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press, 1990

Gustave Le Bon _The Crowd:  A Study of the Popular Mind_
NY:  Harper Torchbooks, 1971

William H. McNeill _Keeping Together in Time:  Dance and Drill in Human History-
Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 1995

No _Crowds and Power_ by Elias Canetti
No _Samba_ by Alma Guillermoprieta

Monday, August 29, 2022

Prisons We Choose to Live Inside by Doris Lessing: Quotes and Notes

This is a series of lectures Doris Lessing did in Canada in the 1980s. With the concatenation of politics, pandemic, and climate on top of war, famine, and the usual disasters, I doubt that anyone in the world now, and certainly in the "developed world," is entirely sane. At the very least, we are all suffering from PTSD. Lessing spoke to that, way back then.

Prisons We Choose to Live Inside by Doris Lessing
NY: Harper and Row, 1987
ISBN 0-06-039077-8

(page 7) More’s Utopia, Campanella’s City of the Sun, Morris’s News from Nowhere, Butler’s Erewhon….

(9) … in times of war we revert, as a species, to the past and are permitted to be brutal and cruel.

It is for this reason, and of course others, that a great many people enjoy war. But this is one of the facts about war that is not often talked about.

I think it is sentimental to discuss the subject of war, or peace, without acknowledging that a great many people enjoy war - not only the idea of it, but the fighting itself.

(11) Seven years of war had left them [Zimbabweans] in a stunned, curiously blank state, and I think it was because whenever people are actually forced to recognize, from real experience, what we are capable of, it is so shocking that we can’t take it in easily…. It was evident that the actual combatants on both sides, both blacks and whites, had thoroughly enjoyed the war.

NB: Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard: “The whole point of war is to put women everywhere in that condition... [people who would do anything for food or protection for themselves and the children and the old people, since the young men were dead or gone away]… It’s always men against women, with the men only pretending to fight among themselves.”

(13) It is not too much to say that when the word “blood” is pronounced, this is a sign that reason is about to depart.

(21) … the Left might find it useful to say something like this, “It has been easily observable for some time that groups like ours always split and then the two new groups become enemies equipped with leaders who hurl abuse at each other. If we remain aware of this apparently inbuilt drive that makes groups split and split again we may perhaps behave less mechanically.”

(22) It is possible to sit through hours, days, of discussion about war, and never hear it mentioned that one of the causes of war is that people enjoy it, or enjoy the idea of it.

(23) Opponents are never hated as much as former allies.

(33-34) Brain-washing has three main pillars or processes, by now well understood. The first is tension, followed by relaxation. This one is used, for instance, in the interrogation of prisoners, when the interrogator is alternatively harsh and tender - one moment a sadistic bully, the next a kind friend. The second is repetition - saying or singing the same thing over and over again. The third is the use of slogans - the reducing of complex ideas to simple sets of words. These three are used all the time by governments, armies, political parties, religious groups, religions - and always have been used.

(35) The more sane we are, the more likely we are to be converted. But we may comfort ourselves with this: that brain-washing is usually not permanent. We may be brain-washed - by conscious or unconscious manipulators, or we may brain-wash ourselves (not uncommon, this) - but it usually wears off.

(36)… as all the philosophers and sages have recommended, we will all live our lives with minds free of violent and passionate commitment, but in a condition of intelligent doubt about ourselves and our lives, a state of quiet, tentative, dispassionate curiosity.
NB: negative capability as positive capability
"a writer's ability to accept 'uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason,' according to English poet John Keats, who first used the term in an 1817 letter."

(39) … as if it were in some way reactionary or anti-libertarian or anti-democratic to look at the behaviour of human beings, at _our_ behavior, dispassionately, as something that one may learn to predict.

(40) Government by show business… Well, every authoritarian goverrnment understands this very well.

(44) The researchers of brainwashing and indoctrination discovered that people who knew how to laugh resisted best. The Turks, for instance… the soldiers who faced their torturers with laughter sometimes survived when others did not. Fanatics don’t laugh at themselves; laughter is by definition heretical, unless used cruelly, turned outwards against an opponent or enemy. Bigots can’t laugh. True believers don’t laugh. Their idea of laughter is a satirical cartoon pillorying an opposition person or idea. Tyrants and oppressors don’t laugh at themselves, and don’t tolerate laughter at themselves.

Laughter is a very powerful thing, and only the civilized, the liberated, the free person can laught at herself, himself.
NB: The smile on the bullet in Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

(48) But we also find our thinking changing because we belong to a group. It is the hardest thing in the world to maintain an individual dissident opinion, as a member of a group.

… If my guess is true, then it aptly illustrates my general thesis, and the general idea behind these essays, that we (the human race) are now in posssession of a great deal of hard information about ourselves, but we do not use it to improve our institutions and therefore our lives.

(53) It has been noticed that there is this 10 per cent of the population, who can be called natural leaders, who do follow their own minds into decisions and choices. It has been noted to the extent that this fact had been incorporated into instructions for people who run prisons, concentration camps, prisoner of war camps: remove the 10 per cent, and your prisoners will become spineless and conforming.

(57) This, [Milgram] experiment, like the many others along the same lines, offers us the information that a majority of people, regardless of whether they are black or white, male or female, old or young, rich or poor, will carry out orders, no matter how savage and brutal the orders are.

(60) Passionate loyalty and subjection to group pressure is what every state relies on.

(61) When I look back at the Second World War, I see something I didn’t more than dimly suspect at the time. It was that everyone was crazy.

(62) How is it that so-called democratic movements don’t make a point of instructing their members in the laws of crowd psychology, group psychology?

When I ask this, the response is always an uncomfortable, squeamish reluctance, as if the whole subject is really in very bad taste, unpleasant, irrelevant. As if it will all just go away if it is ignored.

So at the moment, if we look around the world, the paradox is that we may see this new information being eagerly studied by governments, the possessors and users of power - studied and put into effect. But the people who say they oppose tyranny literally don’t want to know.

(63) But wait… we all know the news is presented to us for maximum effect, that bad news seems, at least, to be more effective in arousing us than good news - which in itself is an interesting comment on the human condition.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Notes on Thorstein Veblen's The Theory of the Leisure Class

The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen
Mineola, NY: Dover, 1994 (ISBN 0-486-28062-4)

(page 20) So soon as the possession of property becomes the basis of popular esteem, therefore, it becomes also a requisite to that complacency which we call self-respect.

(21) … but since the struggle is substantially a race for reputability on the basis of an invidious comparison, no approach to a definitive attainment is possible… pecuniary standing...

(22) An invidious comparison is a process of valuation of persons in respect of worth.

(28) It has already been remarked that the term “leisure,” as here used, does not connote indolence or quiescence. What it connotes is non-productive consumption of time. Time is consumed non-productively (1) from a sense of the unworthiness of productive work, and (2) as an evidence of pecuniary ability to afford a life of idleness.

(49) So, those offices which are by right the proper employment of the leisure class are noble; such as government, fighting, hunting, the care of arms and accoutrements, and the like, - in short, those which may be classed as ostensibly predatory employments.

(53) … pecuniary decency*… conspicuous consumption…

(54) It is not that the city population is by nature much more eager for the peculiar complacency that comes of a conspicuous consumption, nor has the rural population less regard for pecuniary decency.

(60) *In order to be reputable it must be wasteful.

(71) The caution has already been repeated more than once, that while the regulating norm of consumption is in large part the requirement of conspicuous waste, it must not be understood that the motive on which the consumer acts in any given case is the principle in its bald, unsophisticated form.

(94) The consumption of expensive goods is meritorious, and the goods which contain an appreciable element of cost in excess of what goes to give them servicibility for their ostensible mechanical purpose are honorific.

(100) … the canon [of conspicuous consumption] is to some extent shaped in conformity to that secondary expression of the predatory temperament, veneration for the archaic or obsolete, which in one of its special developments is called classicism.

(108) The standard of reputability requires that dress should show wasteful expenditure; but all wastefulness is offensive to native taste. The psychological law has already been pointed out that all men - and women perhaps even in a higher degree - abhor futility, whether of effort or of expenditure, - much as Nature was once said to abhor a vacuum. But the principle of conspicuous waste requires an obviously futile expenditure; and the resulting conspicuous expensiveness of dress is therefore intrinsically ugly.

(122) Except for the fear of offending that chauvinistic patriotism which is so characteristic a feature of the predatory culture, and the presence of which is frequently the most striking mark of reversion in modern communities, the case of the American colonies might be cited as an example of such a reversion on an unusually large scale, though it was not a reversion of very large scope.

(123) The leisure class is the conservative class.

… The office of the leisure class in social evolution is to retard the movement and to conserve what is obsolescent. This proposition is by no means novel; it has long been one of the commonplaces of popular opinion.

(124) Innovation is bad form.

Editorial Comment: Innovation now conspicuously consumed and consuming

(142) Mercantile pursuits are only half-way reputable, unless they involve a large element of ownership and a small element of usefulness.

(152) Moreover, the ostensible serious occupation of the upper class is that of government, which, in point of origin and developmental content, is also a predatory occupation.

(153) It is only the high-bred gentleman and the rowdy that normally resort to blows as the universal solvent of differences of opinion.

(157) It is noticeable, for instance, that even very mild-mannered and matter-of-fact men who go out shooting are apt to carry an excess of arms and accoutrements in order to impress upon their own imagination the seriousness of their undertaking. These huntsmen are also prone to histrionic, prancing gait and to an elaborate exaggeration of the motions, whether of stealth or on onslaught, involved in their deeds of exploit.

… Except where it is adopted as a necessary means of secret communication, the use of a special slang in any employment is probably to be accepted as evidence that the occupation in question is substantially make-believe.

(165) From the evidence already recited it appears that, in sentiment and inclinations, the leisure class is more favourable to a warlike attitude and animus than the industrial classes.

(181) Indeed, it is somewhat insistently claimed as a meritorious feature of sporting life that the habitual participants in athletic games are in some degree peculiarly given to devout practices.

(184) The predatory habit of mind involves an accentuated sense of personal dignity and of the relative standing of individuals. The social structure in which the predatory habit has been the dominant factor in the shaping of institutions is a structure based on status. The pervading norm in the predatory community’s scheme of life is the relation of superior and inferiors, noble and base, dominant and subservient persons and classes, master and slave. The anthropomorphic cults have come down from that stage of industrial development and have been shaped by the same scheme of economic differentiation, - a differentiation into consumer and producer, - and they are pervaded by the same dominant principle of mastery and subservience.

(189) It is not only incumbent on the priestly class to abstain from vulgar labour, especially so far as it is lucrative or is apprehended to contribute to the temporal well-being of mankind.
Editorial Comment: Monastic work rules of basic labor and service may contradict as does history of alternatives like Mondragon cooperatives

(204) This non-invidious residue of the religious life, - the sense of communion with the environment, or with the generic life process, - as well as the impulse of charity or of sociability, act in a pervasive way to shape men’s habits of thought for the economic purpose. But the action of all this class of proclivities is somewhat vague, and their effects are difficult to trace in detail. So much seems clear, however, as that the action of this entire class of motives or aptitudes tends in a direction contrary to the underlying principles of the institution of the leisure class as already formulated. The basis of that institution, as well as of the anthropomorphic cults associated with it in the cultural development, is the habit of invidious comparison; and this habit is incongruous with the exercise of the aptitudes now in question. The substantial canons of the leisure-class scheme of life are a conspicuous waste of time and substance and a withdrawal from the industrial process; while the particular aptitudes here in question assert themselves, on the economic side, in a deprecation of waste and of a futile manner of life, and in an impulse to participation in or identification with the life process, whether it be on the economic side or in any other of its phases or aspects.

(211) As has been seen in an earlier chapter, the canons of reputability or decency under the pecuniary culture insist on habitual futility of effort as the mark of a pecuniarily blameless life. There results not only a habit of disesteem of useful occupations, but there results also what is of more decisive consequence in guiding the action of any organised body of people that lays claim to social good repute. There is a tradition which requires that one should not be vulgarly familiar with any of the processes or details that have to do with the material necessities of life.

(228) … the leisure-class sense of the fitness of things, as appealing to the archaic propensity for spectacular effect and the predilection for antique symbolism…
NB: Society of the Spectacle

(234) In point of derivation, the office of government is a predatory function, pertaining integrally to the archaic leisure-class scheme of life. It is an exercise of control and coercion over the population from which the class draws its sustenance.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Nikola Tesla on His Inventions

My Inventions by Nikola Tesla
London: Arcturus Publishing, 2020
ISBN 978-1-78950-078-3

(page 17) When I get an idea I start at once building it up in my imagination. I change the construction, make improvements and operate the device in my mind. It is absolutely immaterial to me whether I run my turbine in thought or test it in my shop. I even note if it is out of balance. There is no difference whatever, the results are the same. In this way I am able to rapidly develop and perfect a conception without touching anything. When I have gone so far as to embody in the invention every possible improvement I can think of and see no fault anywhere, I put into concrete form this final product of my brain. Invariably my device works as I conceived that it should, and the experiment comes out exactly as I planned it. In 20 years there has not been a single exception. Why should it be otherwise?
[Tesla’s imagination and Einstein’s thought experiments. Did they ever meet?]

(21) The sight of a pearl would almost give me a fit but I was fascinated with the glitter of crystals or objests with sharp edges and plane surfaces. I would not touch the hair of other people except, perhaps, at the point of a revolver. I would get a fever by looking at a peach and if a piece of camphor was anywhere in the house it caused me the keenest discomfort.
[Do I dare to eat a peach? from the Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
Tesla would have been interested in qi gong.]

(32) I am ambidextrous now but then I was left-handed and had comparatively little strength in my right arm.
[Tesla taught himself to be ambidextrous. A Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain exercise is to draw with the non-dominant hand and see what that does. I like to play stringed instruments with the non-dominant as well as dominant hand in my practice.]

(52-53) In 1899, when I was past 40 and carrying on my experiments in Colorado, I could hear very distinctly thunderclaps at a distance of 550 miles. The limit of audition for my young assistants was scarcely more than 150 miles. My ear was over 13 times more sensitive. Yet at that time I was, so to speak, stone deaf in comparison with the acuteness of my hearing while under the nervous strain. In Budapest I could hear the ticking of a watch three rooms between me and the time-piece. A fly alighting on a table in the room would cause a dull thud in my ear. A carriage passing at a distance of a few miles fairly shook my whole body. The whistle of a locomotive 20 or 30 miles away made the bench or chair on which I sat vibrate so strongly that the pain was unbearable. The ground under my feet trembled continuously. I had to support my bed on rubber cushions to get any rest at all. The roaring noises form near and far often produced the effect of spoken words which would have frightened me had I not been able to resolve them into their accidental components. The sun’s rays, when periodically interrupted, would cause blows of such force on my brain that they would stun me. I had to sumopn all my willpower to pass under a bridge or other structure as I experienced a crushing pressure on the skull. In the dark I had the sense of a bat and could detect the presence of an object at a distance of 12 feet by a peculiar creepy sensation on the forehead. My pulse varied from a few to 260 beats and all the tissues of the body quivered with twitches and tremors which was perhaps the hardest to bear.

(67) I rejected the inductor type, fearing that it might not yield perfect sine waves which were so important to resonant action.

(73-74) One day, as I was roaming in the mountains, I sought shelter from an approaching storm. The sky became overhung with heavy clouds but somehow the rain was delayed until, all of a sudden, there was a lightning flash and a few moments after a deluge. This observation set me thinking. It was manifest that the two phenomena were closely related, as cause and effect, and a little reflection led me to the conclusion that the electrical energy involved in the precipitation of the water was inconsiderable, the function of lightning being much like that of a sensitive trigger.

Here was a stupendous possibility of achievement. If we could produce electric effects of the required quality, this whole planet and the conditions of existence on it could be transformed. The sun raises the water of the oceans and winds drive it to distant regions where it remains in a state of most delicate balance. If it were in our power to upset it when and wherever derived, this mighty life-sustaining stream could be at will controlled. We could irrigate arid deserts, create lakes and rivers and provide motive power in unlimited amounts. This would be the most efficient way of harnessing the sun to the uses of man.

(80) ‘The Terrestrial Stationary Waves.’ This wonderful discovery, popularly explained means that the Earth is responsive to electrical vibrations of definite pitch just as a tuning fork to certain waves of sound.
[what would a world where Tesla’s World System works look like?]

(103) We are automata entirely controlled by the forces of the medium being tossed about like corks on the surface of the water, but mistaking the resultant of the impulses from the outside for free will. The movements and other actions we perform are always life preservative and though seemingly quite independent from one another, we are connected by invisible links.

(108) The proposed League [of Nations, My Inventions was first published in 1919] is not a remedy but on the contrary, in the opinion of a number of competent men, may bring about results just the opposite. It is particularly regrettable that a punitive policy was adopted in framing the terms of peace, because a few years hence it will be possible for nations to fight without armies, ships or guns, by weapons far more terrible, to the destructive action and range of which there is virtually no limit.

Monday, April 11, 2022

The Devils of Loudun - Quotes

 The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley

NY:  Perennial Library, 1952

(page 22)   But partisanship is a complex passion which permits those who indulge in it to make the best of both worlds.  Because they do these things for the sake of the group which is, by definition, good and even sacred, they can admire themselves and loathe their neighbors, they can seek power and money, can enjoy the pleasures of aggression and cruelty, not merely without feeling guilty, but with a positive glow of conscious virtue.  Loyalty to their group transforms these pleasant vices into acts of heroism.  Partisans are aware of themselves, not as sinners or criminals, but as altruists and idealists.  And with certain qualifications, this is in fact what they are.  The only trouble is that their altruism is merely egotism at one remove, and that the ideal, for which they are ready in many cases to lay down their lives, is nothing but the rationalization of corporate interests and party passions.

(66)  His career was a demonstration of the fact that, in certain circumstances, crawling is a more effective means of locomotion than walking upright, and that the best crawlers are also the deadliest biters.

(98)  We are born with Original Sin;  but we are also born with Original Virtue - with a capacity for grace, in the language of Western theology, with a “spark,” a “fine point of the soul,” a fragment of unfallen consciousness, surviving from the state of prmal innocence and technically known as the _synteresis_.

(115)  To sins of the will and the imagination kind nature sets no limits.  Avarice and the lust for power are as nearly infinite as anything in this sublunary world can be.  And so is the thing which DH Lawrence called “sex in the head.”  As heroic passion, it is one of the last infirmities of noble mind.  As imagined sensuality, it is one of the first infirmities of the insane mind.  And in either case (being free of the body and the limitations imposed by fatigue, by boredom, by the essentail irrelevance of material happenings in our ideas and fancies), it partakes of the infinite.

(134)  Few people now believe in the Devil;  but very many enjoy behaving as their ancestors behaved when the Fiend was a reality as unquestionable as his Opposite Number.  In order to justify their behavior, they turn their theories into dogmas, their bylaws into First Principles, their political bosses into Gods and all those who disagree with them into incarnate devils.  This idolatrous transformation of the relative into the Absolute and the all too human into the Divine, makes it possible for them to indulge in their ugliest passions with a clear conscience and in the certainty that they are working for the Highest Good.  And when the current beliefs come, in their turn, to look silly, a new set will be invented, so that the immemorial madness may continue to wear its customary mask of legality, idealism and true religion.

(156-157)  By those who serve him, a great man must be treated as a mixture between a god, a naughty child and a wild beast.  The god must be worshiped, the child amused and bamboozled, and wild beast placated and, when aroused, avoided.  The courtier, who, by an unwelcome suggestion, annoys this insane trinity of superhuman pretension, subhuman ferocity and infantile silliness, is merely asking for trouble.  

(174)  “The soul is immortal, created of nothing, and so infused into the child or embryo in his mother’s womb, six months after conception;  not as the brutes, which are ex traduce (handed on by parent to offspring) and, by dying with them, vanish into nothing.” - Robert Burton

(192)  Those who crusade, not _for_ God in themselves, but _against_ the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes even perceptibly worse than it was, before the crusade began.  By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself.

(260)  Every crusader is apt to go mad.  He is haunted by the wickedness which he attributes to his enemies;  it becomes inn some sort a part of him.

(284)  Insofar as they are incarnated minds, subject to physical decay and death, capable of pain and pleasure, driven by craving and abhorrence and oscillating between the desire for self-assertion and the desire for self-transcendence, human beings are faced, at every time and place, with the same problems, are confronted by the same temptations and are permitted by the Order of Things to make the same choice betweenn unregeneracy and enlightenment.  The context changes, but the gist and the meaning are invariable.

(307)  We participate in a tragedy;  at a comedy we only look.  The tragic author feels himself into his personages; and so, from the other side, does the reader or listener.  But in pure comedy there is no identification between creator and literary creature, between spectator and spectacle.  The author looks, judges and records, from the outside;  and from the outside the audience observes what he has recorded, judges as he has judged and , if the comedy is good enough, laughs.  Pure comedy cannot be kept up for very long.

(312)  That the infinite must include the finite and must therefore be totally present at every point of space, every instant of time, seems sufficiently evident. 

(331)  The fundamental human problem is ecological:  men must learn how to live with the cosmos on all its levels, from the material to the spiritual.  As a race, we have to discover how a huge and rapidly increasing population can go on existing satisfactorily on a planet of limited size and possessed of resources, many of which are wasting assets that can never be renewed.  As individuals, we have to find out how to establish a satisfactory relationship with that infinite Mind, from which we habitually imagine ourselves to be isolated.

(350)  For these neo-conservatives [Communist Russia, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany] , mass intoxication was chiefly valuable, henceforward, as a means of heightening their subjects’ suggestibility and so rendering them more docile to the expressions of authoritarian will.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Motivation and Drive

 Drive:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

NY:  Penguin Group, 2009
ISBN 978-1-59448-884-9

(page 8)  "When money is used as an external reward for some activity, the subjects lose intrinsic interest for the activity," he [Edward Deci] wrote....

Human beings, Deci said, have an "inherent tendency to seek our novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise their capacities, to explore, and to learn."  But this third drive was more fragile than the other two;  it needed the right environment to survive.  "One who is interested in developing and enhancing intrinsic motivation in children, employees, students, etc., should not concentrate on external-control systems such as monetary rewards," he wrote in a follow-up paper.

(23)  Lakhani and Wolk uncovered a range of motives, but they found "that enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation, namely how creative a person feels when working on the project, is the strongest and most pervasive driver."  A large majority of programmers, the researchers discovered, reported that they frequently reached the state of optimal challenge called "flow."  Likewise, three German economists who studied open-source projects around the world found that what drives participants is "a set of predominantly intrinsic motives" - in particular, "the fun... of mastering the challenge of a given software problem" and the "desire to give a gift to the programmer community."

(24)  For example, in April 2008, Vermont became the first U. S. state to allow a new type of business called the "low-profit limited liability corporation."  Dubbed an L3C, this entity is a corporation - but not as we typically think of it.  As one report explained, an L3C "operate[s] like a for-profit business generating at least modest profits, but its primary aim [is] to offer significant social benefits."  Three other U. S. states have followed Vermont's lead.  An L3C in North Carolina, for instance, is buying abandoned furniture factories in the state, updating them with green technology, and leasing them back to beleaguered furniture manufacturers at a low rate. The venture hopes to make money, but its real purpose is to help revitalize a struggling region....

The Fourth Sector Network in the United States and Denmark is promoting "the for-benefit organization" - a hybrid that it says represents a new category of organization that is both economically self-sustaining and animated by public purpose.  One example:  Mozilla, the entity that gave us Firefox, is organized as a "for-benefit" organization.  And three U. S. entrepreneurs have invented the "B Corporation," a designation that requires companies to amend their bylaws so that the incentives favor long-term value and social impact instead of short-term economic gain.

NB:  Gandhian economics, stewardship

(28)  Some scholars are already widening the reach of behavioral economics to encompass these ideas.  The most prominent is Bruno Frey, an economist at the University of Zurich...  As Frey writes, "Intrinsic motivation is of _great importance_ for all economic activities.  It is inconceivable that people are motivated solely or even mainly by external incentives."

(32)  To recap, Motivation 2.0 suffers from three compatibility problems.  It doesn't mesh with the way many new business models are organizing what we do - because we're intrinsically motivated purpose maximizers, not only extrinsically motivated profit maximizers.  It doesn't comport with the way that twenty-first-century economics thinks about what we do - because economists are finally realizing that we're full -fledged human beings, not single-minded economic robots.  And perhaps most important, it's hard to reconcile with much of what we actually do at work - because for growing numbers of people, work is often creative, interesting, and self-directed rather than unrelentingly routine, boring, and other-directed.

(36-37)  [Tom Sawyer fence painting incident]  From this episode, Twain extracts a key motivational principle, namely "that Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do."  He goes on to write:

There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money;  but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign.

In other words, rewards can perform a weird sort of behavioral alchemy:  They can transform an interesting task into a drudge.  They can turn play into work.  And by diminishing intrinsic motivation, they can send performance, creativity, and even upstanding behavior toppling like dominoes.  Let's call this the Sawyer Effect.
NB:  Tom Sawyer organizing

(39)  Deci:  "Careful consideration of reward effects reported in 128 experiments lead to the conclusion that tangible rewards tends to have a substantially negative effect on intrinsic motivation," they determined.  "When institutions - families, schools, businesses, and athletic teams, for example - focus on the short-term and opt for controlling people's behavior," they do considerable long-term damage.

Alfie Kohn, whose prescient 1993 book,  _Punished by Rewards_, lays out a devastating indictment of extrinsic incentive

(40-41)  They [Ariely and others] recruited eighty-seven participants and asked them to play several games - for example, tossing tennis balls at a target, unscrambling anagrams, recalling a string of digits - that required motor skills, creativity, or concentration.  To test the power of incentives, the experimenters offered three types of rewards for reaching certain performance levels.

One-third of the participants could earn a small reward - 4 rupees (at the time worth around 50 U. S. cents and equal to about a day's pay in Madurai [India] for reaching their performance targets.  One-third could earn a medium reward - 10 rupees (about $5, or two weeks' pay).  And one-third could earn a very large reward - 400 rupees (about $50, or nearly five months' pay)...

As it turned out, the people offered the medium-sized bonus didn't perform any better than those offered the small one.  And those in the 400-rupee super-incentivized group?  They fared worst of all.  By nearly every measure, they lagged behind both the low-reward and medium-reward participants.  Reporting the result for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the researchers wrote, "in eight of the nine tasks we examined across the three experiments, higher incentives led to _worse_ performance."

...In 2009, scholars at the London School of Economics - alma mater of eleven Nobel laureates in economics - analyzed fifty-one studies of corporate pay-for-performance plans.  These economists' conclusion:  "We find that financial incentives... can result in a negative impact on overall performance."

(44)  [Candle problem]  He told the first group that he was timing their work merely to establish norms for how long it typically took someone to complete this sort of puzzle.  To the second group he offered incentives.  If a participant's time was among the fastest 25 percent of all the people being tested, that participant would receive $5.  If the participant's time was the fastest of all, the reward would be $20.  Adjusted for inflation, those are decent sums of money for a few minutes of effort - a nice motivator.

How much faster did the incentivized group come up with a solution?  On average, it took them nearly three and a half minutes _longer_....

Why?  Rewards, by their very nature, narrow our focus.  That's helpful when there's a clear path to a solution.  They help us stare ahead and race faster.  But "if-then" motivators are terrible for challenges like the candle problem.  As this experiment shows, the rewards narrowed people's focus and blinkered the wide view that might have allowed them to see new uses for old objects.

(46)  For artists, scientists, inventors, schoolchildren, and the rest of us, intrinsic motivation - the drive to do something because it is interesting, challenging, and absorbing - is essential for high levels of creativity.  But the "if-then" motivators that are the staple of most businesses often stifle, rather than stir, creative thinking.

(50-51)  As the cadre of business school professors [Harvard Business School, Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management, and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School] write, "Substantial evidence demonstrates that in addition to motivating constructive effort, goal setting can induce unethical behavior."

The examples are legion, the researchers note.  Sears imposes a sales quota on its auto repair staff - and workers respond by over-charging customers and completing unnecessary repairs.  Enron sets lofty revenue goals - and the race to meet them by any means possible catalyzes the company's collapse.  Ford is so intent on producing a certain car at a certain weight at a certain price by a certain date that it omits safety checks and unleashes the dangerous Ford Pinto.

The problem with making an extrinsic reward the only destination that matters is that some people will choose the quickest route there, even it it means taking the low road....

Executives game their quarterly earnings so they can snag a performance bonus.  Secondary school counselors doctor student transcripts so that their seniors can get into college.  Athletes inject themselves with steroids to post better numbers and trigger lucrative performance bonuses.

Contrast that approach with behavior sparked by intrinsic motivation.  When the reward is the activity itself - deepening learning, delighting customers, doing one's best - there are no shortcuts.  The only route to the destination is the high road.  In some sense, it's impossible to act unethically because the person who's disadvantaged isn't a competitor but yourself....

Goals may cause systematic problems for organizations due to narrowed focus, unethical behavior, increased risk taking, decreased cooperation, and decreased intrinsic motivation.  Use care when applying goals in your organization.

(53)  "After the introduction for the fine [for not arriving on time to pick up children from day-care] we observed a steady _increase_ in the number of parents coming late," the economists wrote.  "The rate finally settled, at a level that was higher and _almost twice as large_ as the initial one."  And in language reminiscent of Harry Harlow's head scratching, they write that the existing literature didn't account for such a result.  Indeed, the "possibility of an increase in the behavior being punished was not even considered."

...One reason most parents showed up on time is that they had a relationship with the teachers - who, after all, were caring for their precious sons and daughters - and wanted to treat them fairly.  Parents had an intrinsic desire to be scrupulous about punctuality.  But the threat of a fine - like the promise of the kronor in the blood experiment - edged aside the third drive.  The fine shifted the parents' decision from a partly moral obligation (be fair to my kids' teachers) to a pure transaction (I can buy extra time).  There wasn't room for both.  The punishment didn't promote good behavior;  it crowded it out.

(54)  Pay your son to take out the trash - and you've pretty much guaranteed the kid will never do it again for free.  What's more, once the initial money buzz tapers off, you'll likely have to increase the payment to continue compliance.

As Suvorov explains, "Rewards are addictive in that once offered, a contingent reward makes an agent expect it whenever a similar task is face, which in turn compels the principal to use rewards over and over again."  And before long, the existing reward may no longer suffice.  It will quickly feel less like a bonus and more like the status quo - which then forces the principal to offer larger rewards to achieve the same effect.
NB:  Sounds like CEO pay and the banksters bonuses don't it
Addiction thinking

(55)  In other words, if we watch how people's brains respond, promising them monetary rewards and giving them cocaine, nicotine, or amphetamines look disturbingly similar....

Rewards' addictive qualities can also distort decision-making.  Knutson has found that activation in the nucleus accumbens seem to predict "both risky choices and risk-seeking mistakes."  Get people fired up with the prospect of rewards, and instead of making better decisions, as Motivation 2.0 hopes, they can actually make worse ones.

(57)  Several researchers have found that companies that spend the most time offering guidance on quarterly earnings deliver significantly _lower_ long-term growth rates than companies that offer guidance less frequently.  (One reason:  The earnings-obsessed companies typically invest less in research and development.)  They successfully achieved their short-term goals, but threaten the health of the company two or three years hence.  As the scholars who warned about goals gone wild put it, "The very presence of goals may lead employees to focus myopically on short-term gains and to lose sight of the potential devastating long-term effects on the organization."

(58)  This is the nature of economic bubbles:  What seems to be irrational exuberance is ultimately a bad case of extrinsically motivated myopia.

By contrast, the elements of genuine motivation that we'll explore later, by their very nature, defy a short-term view.  Take mastery.  The objective itself is inherently long-term because complete mastery, in a sense, is unattainable.  Even Roger Federer, for instance, will never fully "master" the game of tennis.  But introducing an "if-then" reward to help develop mastery usually backfires.  That's why school children who are paid to solve problems typically choose easier problems and therefore learn less.  The short-term prize crowds out the long-term learning....

Likewise, several studies show that paying people to exercise, stop smoking, or take their medicines produces terrific results at first - but the healthy behavior disappears once the incentives are removed.

(59)  Carrots and Sticks:  The Seven Deadly Flaws
1.  They can extinguish intrinsic motivation.
2.  They can diminish performance.
3.  They can crush creativity.
4.  They can crowd out good behavior.
5.  They can encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior.
6.  They can become addictive.
7.  They can foster short-term thinking.

(60)  The starting point, of course, is to ensure that the baseline rewards - wages, salaries, benefits, and so on - are adequate and fair.  Without a healthy baseline, motivation of any sort is difficult and often impossible.

(62)  For routine tasks, which aren't very interesting and don't demand much creative thinking, rewards can provide a small motivation booster shot without the harmful side effects.... when the task called for "even rudimentary cognitive skill," a larger reward "led to poorer performance.  But "as long as the task involved only mechanical skill, bonuses worked as they would be expected:  the higher the pay, the better the performance."

(64)  Offer a rationale for why the task is necessary.  A job that's not inherently interesting can become more meaningful, and therefore more engaging, if it's part of a larger purpose...

Acknowledge that the task is boring.  This is an act of empathy, of course.  And the acknowledgment will help people understand why this is the rare instance when "if-then" rewards are part of how your organization operates.

Allow people to complete the task their own way.  Think autonomy, not control.  State the outcome you need.  But instead of specifying precisely the way to reach it... give them the freedom over how they do the job.

(66)  The essential requirement:  Any extrinsic reward should be unexpected and offered only after the task is complete....

In other words, where "if-then" rewards are a mistake, shift to "now that" rewards - as in "Now that you've finished the poster and it turned out so well, I'd like to celebrate by taking you out to lunch."

Ad Deci and his colleagues explain, "If tangible rewards are given unexpectedly to people after they have finished a task, the rewards are less likely to be experienced as the reason for doing the task and are thus less likely to be detrimental to intrinsic motivation."

(67)  First, _consider nontangible rewards_.  Praise and positive feedback are much less corrosive than cash and trophies.  In fact, in Deci's original experiments, and in his subsequent analysis of other studies, he found that "positive feedback can have an enhancing effect on intrinsic motivation."

...Second, _provide useful information_.  Amabile has found that while controlling extrinsic motivators can clobber creativity, "informational or enabling motivators can be conducive" to it.

(72)  SDT [Self Determination Theory], by contrast begins with a notion of universal human _needs_.  It argues that we have three innate psychological needs - competence, autonomy, and relatedness.  When those needs are satisfied, we're motivated, productive, and happy.

"If there's anything [fundamental] about our nature, it's the capacity for interest.  Some things facilitate it.  Some things undermine it," [Richard] Ryan explained during one of our conversations.
NB:  Interest is attention - appamada

"Of course, they're [rewards] necessary in workplaces and other settings," says Deci.  "but the less salient they are made, the better.  When people use rewards to motivate, that's when they're most demotivating."

(76)  If your starting point was Theory X, he [Douglas McGregor] said, your managerial techniques would inevitably produce limited results, or even go awry entirely.  If you believed in the "mediocrity of the masses," as he put it, then mediocrity became the ceiling on what you could achieve.  But if your starting point was Theory Y, the possibilities were vast - not simply for the individual's potential, but for the company's bottom line as well.
NB:  Theory X/Theory Y : Conservative/Liberal

(78-79)  Type I [Intrinsic] behavior is made, not born.  These behavioral patterns aren't fixed traits.  They are proclivities that emerge from circumstance, experience, and context...  The science demonstrates that once people learn the fundamental practices and attitudes - and can exercise them in supportive settings - their motivation, and their ultimate performance, soars.  Any Type X [Extrinsic] can become a Type I.

Type I's almost always outperform Type X's in the long run.  Intrinsically motivated people usually achieve more than their reward-seeking counterparts.  Alas, that's not always true in the short term.  An intense focus on extrinsic rewards can indeed deliver fast results.  The trouble is, this approach is difficult to sustain.  And it doesn't assist in mastery - which is the source of achievement over the long haul....

Type I behavior does not disdain money or recognition.  Both Type X's and Type I's care about money.  If an employee's compensation doesn't hit the baseline that I described in Chapter 2 - if her organization doesn't pay her an adequate amount, or if her pay isn't equitable compared to others doing similar work - that persons motivation will crater regardless of whether she leans towards X or toward I.

(80)  Type I behavior is a renewable resource.  This of Type X behavior as coal and Type I behavior as the sun....

Type I behavior promotes greater physical and mental well-being.  According to a raft of studies from SDT researchers, people oriented toward autonomy and intrinsic motivation have higher self-esteem, better interpersonal relationships, and greater general well-being than those who are extrinsically motivated.

(80-81)  Ultimately, Type I behavior depends on three nutrients:  autonomy, mastery, and purpose.  Type I behavior is self-directed.  It is devoted to becoming better and better at something that matters.  And it connects that quest for excellence to a larger purpose.

(86)  ROWEs [results-only work environments] are the brainchild of Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, two former human resources executives at the American retailer Best Buy.    ROWE's principles marry the commonsense pragmatism of Ben Franklin to the cage-rattling radicalism of Saul Alinsky.  In a ROWE workplace, people don't have schedules.  They show up when they want.  They don't have to be in the office at a certain time - or any time, for that matter.  They just have to get their work done.  How they do it, when they do it, and where they do it is up to them.

(87)  People still had specific goals they had to reach - for example, completing a project by a certain time or ringing up a particular number of sales.  And if they needed help, [Jeff] Gunther was there to assist.  But he decided against tying those goals to compensation.  "That creates a culture that says it's all about the money and not enough about the work."  Money, he believes, is only "a threshold motivator."  People must be paid well adn be able to take care of their families, he says.  But once a company meets this baseline, dollars and cents don't much affect performance and motivation.  Indeed, Gunther thinks that in a ROWE environment, employees are far less likely to jump to another job for a $10,000 or even $20,000 increase in salary.  The freedom they have to do great work is more valuable, and harder to match, than a pay raise - and employees' spouses, partners, and families are among ROWE's staunchest advocates.

(88)  Gunther:  "For me, it's a partnership between me and the employees.  They're not resources.  They're partners."  And partners, like all of us, need to direct their own lives.

(90)  Deci and Ryan:  "Autonomous motivation involves behaving with a full sense of volition and choice," they write, "whereas controlled motivation involves behaving with the experience of pressure and demand toward specific outcomes that comes from forces perceived to be external to the self."

Autonomy, as they see it, is different from independence.  It's not the rugged, go-it-alone, rely-on-nobody individualism of the American cowboy.  It means acting with choice - which means we can be both autonomous and happily interdependent with others.  And while the idea of independence has national and political reverberations, autonomy appears to be a human concept rather than a western one.  Researchers have found a link between autonomy and overall well-being not only in North America and Western Europe, but also in Russia, Turkey, and South Korea.  Even in high poverty non-Western locales like Bangladesh, social scientists have found that autonomy is something that people seek and that improves their lives.

(90-91)  According to a cluster of recent behavioral science studies, autonomous motivation promotes greater conceptual understanding, better grades, enhanced persistence at school and in sporting activities, higher productivity, less burnout, and greater levels of psychological well-being.  Those effect carry over to the workplace.

(91)  For example, researchers at Cornell University studied 320 small businesses, half of which granted workers autonomy, the other half relying on top-down direction. The businesses that offered autonomy grew at four times the rate of the control-oriented firms and had one-third the turnover.

(93)  Now, once a quarter, the company [Atlassian] sets aside an entire day when its engineers can work on any software problem they want - only this time, "to get them out of the day to day," it _must_ be something that's not part of their regular job.

At two P. M. on a Thursday, the day begins.  Engineers, including Cannon-Brookes himself, crash out new code or an elegant hack - any way they want, with anyone they want.  Many work through the night.  Then, at four P. M. on Friday, they show the results to the rest of the company in a wild-and-woolly all-hands meeting stocked with ample quantities of cold beer and chocolate cake.  Atlassian calls these twenty-four-hour bursts of freedom and creativity "FedEx Days" - because people have to deliver something overnight.  And deliver Atlassians have.  Over the years, this odd little exercise has produced an array of software fixes that might otherwise never have merged.  Says one engineer, "Some of the coolest stuff we have in our product today has come from FedEx Days."
NB:  Pecha-Kucha and Maker Culture

"We've always taken the position that money is only something you can lose on," Cannon-Brookes told me.  "If you don't pay enough, you can lose people.  But beyond that, money is not a motivator.  What matters are these other features."

(93-94)  And what a few future-facing businesses are discovering is that one of the essential features is autonomy - in particular, autonomy over four aspects of work: what people do, when they do it, how they do it, and whom they do it with.  As Atlassian's experience shows, Type I behavior emerges when people have autonomy over the four T's:  their _task_, their _time_, their _technique_, and their _team_.

(94)  In the spring of 2008, they [owners of Atlasssian] announced that for the next six months, Atlassian developers could spend 20 percent of their time - rather than just one intense day - working on any project they wanted.

(95)  William McKnight, CEO 3M in the 1930s and 1940s:  ...this unlikely corporate heretic established a new policy:  3M's technical staff could spend up to 15 percent of their time on projects of their choosing... so seemingly illicit, that inside the company, it was known as the "bootlegging policy."  And yet it worked.  These walled gardens of autonomy soon became fertile fields for a harvest of innovations - including Pot-it notes.

(96)  McKnight's innovation remains in place at 3M.  But only a surprisingly small number of other companies have moved in this direction, despite its proven results.  The best-known company to embrace it is Google, which has long encouraged engineers to spend one day a week workign on a side project.  Some Googlers use their "20 percent time" to fix an existing product, but most use it to develop something entirely new.  Of course, Google doesn't sign away the intellectual property rights to what's created during that 20 percent - which is wise.  In a typical year, more than half of Google's new offerings are birthed during this period of pure autonomy....
NB:  Art Kleiner's _Age of Heretics_

As Google engineer Alec Proudfoot, whose own 20 percent project aimed at boosting the efficiency of hybrid cars, put it in a television interview:  "Just about all the good ideas here at Google have bubbled up from 20 percent time."

(100)  If we begin from an alternative, and more accurate, presumption - that people  want to do good work - then we ought to let them focus on the work itself rather than the time it takes them to do it.

(101)  Reporting on the company's [Best Buy] ROWE results in the _Harvard Business Review_, Tamara Erickson writes:

Salaried people put in as much time as it takes to do their work.  Hourly employees in the program work a set number of hours to comply with federal labor regulations, but they get to choose when.  Those employees report better relationships with family and friends, more company loyalty, and more focus and energy.  Productivity has increased by 35%, and voluntary turnover is 320 basis points lower than in teams that have not made the change.  Employees say they don't know whether they work fewer hours - they've stopped counting.

(102)  Tony Hsieh, founder of the online shoe retailer Zappos.com (now part of Amazon.com), thought there was a better way to recruit, prepare, and challenge such employees.  So new hires at Zappos go through a week of training.  Then, at the end of those seven days, Hsieh makes them an offer.  If they feel Zappos isn't for them and want to leave, he'll pay them $2,000 - no hard feelings.  Hsieh is hacking the Motivation 2.0 operating system like a brilliant and benevolent teenage computer whiz. He's using an "if-then" reward not to motivate people to perform better, but to weed out those who aren't fit for a Motivation 3.0-style workplace.  The people who remain receive decent pay, and just as important, they have autonomy over technique.  Zappos doesn't monitor its customer service employees' call times or require them to use scripts.  The reps handle calls the way they want.  Their job is to serve the customer well;  how they do it is up to them.

(103)  ... Zappos consistently ranks as one of the best companies for customer service in the United States - ahead of better-known names like Cadillac, BMW, and Apple and roughly equal to ritzy brands like Jaguar and the Ritz-Carlton....

homeshoring.  Instead of requiring customer service reps to report to a single large call center they're routing the calls to the employees' homes.  This cuts commuting time for staff, removes them from physical monitoring, and provides far greater autonomy over how they do their jobs.

(105)  For example, at the organic grocery chain Whole Foods, the people who are nominally in charge of each department don't do the hiring.  That task falls to a department's employees.  After a job candidate has worked a thirty-day trial period on a team, the prospective teammates vote on whether to hire that person full-time. At W. L. Gore & Associates, the makers of the GORE-TEX fabric and another example of Motivation 3.0 in action, anybody who wants to rise in the ranks and lead a team must assemble people willing to work with her.

(106)  And once again, the science affirms the value of something traditional businesses have been slow to embrace.  Ample research has shown that people workign in self-organized teams are more satisfied than those working in inherited teams.  Likewise, studies by Deci and others have shown that people high in intrinsic motivation are better coworkers.  And that makes the possibilities on this front enormous.  If you want to work with more Type I's, the best strategy is to become one yourself. Autonomy, it turns out, can be contagious.

(107)  If we pluck people out of controlling environments, when they've known nothing else, and plop them in a ROWE or an environment of undiluted autonomy, they'll struggle.  Organizations must provide, as Richard Ryan puts it, "scaffolding" to help every employee find his footing to make the transition...

As Zappos CEO Hsieh told me by e-mail, "Studies have shown that perceived control is an important component of one's happiness.  However, what people feel like they want control over really varies, so I don't think there's one aspect of autonomy that's universally the most important.  Different individuals have different desires, so the best strategy for an employer would be to figure our what's important to each individual employee."

(111)  Gallup's extensive research on the subject shows that in the United States, more than 50 percent of employees are not engaged at work - and nearly 20 percent are actively disengaged.  The cost of all this disengagement:  about $300 billion a year in lost productivity - a sum larger than the GDP of Portugal, Singapore, or Israel Yet in comparative terms, the United States looks like a veritable haven of Type I behavior at work.  According to the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., in some countries as little as 2 to 3 percent of the workforce is highly engaged in their work.

(114)  Csikszentmihalyi would page people eight times a day at random intervals and ask them to write in a booklet their answers to several short questions about what they were doing, who they were with, and how they'd describe their state of mind.  Put the findings together for seven days and you had a flip book, a mini-movie, of someone's week.
NB:  App for finding flow?  Probably already exists.

(117)  He [Stefan Falk of Ericsson] persuaded managers to configure work assignments so that employees had clear objectives and a way to get quick feedback.  And instead of meeting with their charges for once-a-tear performance reviews, managers sat down with employees one-on-one six times a year, often for as long as ninety minutes, to discuss their level of engagement and path toward mastery.  The flow-centered strategy worked well enough that Ericsson began using it in offices around the world....

The he required them [managers] to meet with staff once a month to get a sense of whether people were overwhelmed or underwhelmed with their work - and to adjust assignments to help they find flow.  After two years of managerial revamping, state-owned Green Cargo became profitable for the first time in 125 years - and executives cite its newfound flowcentricity as a key reason.

In addition, a study of 11,000 industrial scientists and engineers working at companies in the United States found that the desire for intellectual challenge - that is, the urge to master something new and engaging - was the best predictor of productivity.

(118)  Why not, he [Jenova Chen] thought, design to bring the flow sensation to more casual gamers?

...Chen calls his game flOw 
.  And it's been a huge hit.  People have played the free online version of the game more than three million times. 

(119)  Some tasks at work don't automatically provide surges of flow, yet still need to get done.  So the shrewdest enterprises afford employees the freedom to sculpt their jobs in ways that bring a little bit of flow to otherwise mundane duties.

(121)  ...the first law of mastery:  Mastery is a mindset.

(121-122)  If you believe intelligence is a fixed quantity, then every educational and professional encounter becomes a measure of how much you have.  If you believe intelligence is something you can increase, then the same encounters become opportunities for growth.  In one view, intelligence is something you demonstrate;  in the other, it's something you develop.

The two self-theories lead down two very different paths - one that heads toward mastery and one that doesn't.  For instance, consider goals,  [Carol] Dweck says they come in two varieties - performance goals and learning goals.  Getting an A in French class is a performance goal.  Being able to speak French is a learning goal.  "Both goals are entirely normal and pretty much universal," Dweck says, "and both can fuel achievement."  But only one leads to mastery.

(122)  As Dweck writes, "With a learning goal, students don't have to feel that they're already good at something in order to hang in and keep trying.  aFter all, their goal is to learn, not to prove they're smart."

(123)  Type X behavior often holds an entity theory of intelligence, prefers performance goals to learning goals, and disdains effort as a sign of weakness.  Type I behavior has an incremental theory of intelligence, prizes learning goals over performance goals, and welcomes effort as a way to improve at something that matters. bEgin with one mindset, and mastery is impossible begin with the other, and it can be inevitable.

(124)  The best predictor of success, the researchers found, was the prospective [West Point] cadets' ratings on a noncognitive, non-physical trait known as "grit" - defined as "perseverance and passion for long-term goals."  The experience of these army officers-in-training confirms the second law of mastery:  Mastery is a pain....

As he [psychologist Anders Ericsson] puts it, "Many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the results of intense practice for a minimum of 10 years."

(125)  As they explained, "Whereas the importance of working harder is easily apprehended, the importance of working longer without switching objectives may be less perceptible... in every field, grit may be as essential as talent to high accomplishment."

(127)  This is the nature of mastery:  Mastery is an asymptote.

You can approach it.  You can home in on it.  You can get really, really, really close to it.  But like Cézanne, you can _never_ touch it.  Mastery is impossible to realize fully...

The joy is in the pursuit more than the realization.  In the end, mastery attracts precisely because mastery eludes.

(129)  As Csikszentmihalyi wrote, "After just two days of deprivation [of flow]... the general deterioration of mood was so advanced that prolonging the experiment woudl have been unadvisable."

...And one of Csikszentmihalyi's more surprising findings is that people are much more likely to reach that flow state at work than in leisure.  Work can often have the structure of other autotelic experiences:  clear goals, immediate feedback, challenges well matched to our abilities.  And when it does, we don't just enjoy it more, we do it better.

(133)  Autonomous people working toward mastery perform at very high levels.  But those who do so in the service of some greater objective can achieve even more. The most deeply motivated people - not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied - hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.

(136-137)  Even cooperatives - an older business model with motives other than profit maximization - are moving from the shaggy edge to the clean-cut center. According to writer Marjorie Kelly, in the last three decades, worldwide membership in co-ops has doubled to 800 million people.  In the United States alone, more people belong to a co-op than own shares in the stock market.  And the idea is spreading,  In Colombia, Kelly notes, "SaludCoop provides helath-care services to a quarter of the population.  In Spain, the Mondragón Coporación Cooperativa is the nation's seventh largest industrial concern."

...The aims of these Motivation 3.0 companies are not to chase profit while trying to stay ethical and law-abiding.  Their goal is to pursue purpose - and to use profit as the catalyst rather than the objective.

(138)  MBA Oath from HBS students in Spring 2009

And in just a few weeks, roughly one-quarter of the graduating class had taken the oath and signed the pledge.  In launching the effort, Max Anderson, one of the founders, said:  "My hope is that at our 25th reunion our class will not be known for how much money we made or how much money we gave back tot he school, but for how the world was a better place as a result of our leadership."
NB:  http://mbaoath.org/

(139)  Robert Reich's pronoun test:  When he visits a workplace, he'll ask the people employed there some questions about the company.  He listens to the substance of their response, of course.  But most of all, he listens for the pronouns they use.  Do the workers refer to the company as "they"?  Or do they describe it in terms of "we"?  "They" companies and "we" companies, he says, are very different places.

(141)  In particular, spending money on other people (buying flowers for your spouse rather than an MP3 player for yourself) or on a cause (donating to a religious institution rather than going for an expensive haircut) can actually increase our subjective well-being...

But field research at the prestigious medical facility [Mayo Clinic] found that letting doctors spend one day a week on the aspect of their job that was most meaingful to them - whether patient care, research, or community service - could reduce the physical and emotional exhaustion that accompanies their work.  Doctors who participated in this trial policy had half the burnout rate of those who did not.  Think of it as "20 percent time" with a purpose.

(142-143)  But the results for people with profit goals were more complicated.  Those who said they were attaining their goals - accumulating wealth, winning acclaim - reported levels of satisfaction, self-esteem, and positive affect no higher than when they were students.  In other words, they'd reached their goals, but it didn't make them any happier.  What's more, graduates with profit goals showed _increases_ in anxiety, depression, and other negative indicators - again, even though they were attaining their goals.

"These findings are rather striking," the researchers write, "as they suggest that attainment of a particular set of goals [in this case, profit goals] has no impact on well-being and actually contributes to ill-being."

(144)  A health society - and healthy business organizations - begins with purpose and considers profit a way to move toward that end or a happy by-product of its attainment...

And since the planet very soon will contain more people over age sixty-five than under age five for the first time in its existence, the timing couldn't be better.

(163)  Kimley-Horn and Associates, a civil engineering firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, has established a reward system that gets the Type I stamp of approval:  At any point, without asking permission, anyone in the company can award a $50 bonus to any of her colleagues.  "It works because it's real-time, and it's not handed down from any management," the firm's human resources director told _Fast Company_.  "Any employee who does something exceptional receives recognition from their peers within minutes."  Because these bonuses are noncontingent "now that" rewards, they avoid the seven deadly flaws of most corporate carrots.  And because they come from a colleague, not a boss, they carry a different (and perhaps deeper) meaning.
NB:  Are there rules?

(170)  In Motivation 3.0, the best use of money is to take the issue of money off the table.

The more prominent salary, perks, and benefits are in someone's work life, the more they can inhibit creativity and unravel performance.  As Edward Deci explained in Chapter 3, when organizations use rewards like money to motivate staff, "that's when they're most demotivating."

(172)  Paying people a little more than the market demands, Akerlof and Yellen found, could attract better talent, reduce turnover, and boost productivity and morale...

Indeed, other economists have shown that providing an employee a high level of base pay does more to boost performance and organizational commitment than an attractive bonus structure.

(174)  We're bribing students into compliance instead of challenging them into engagement.

(178-179)  Praise effort and strategy, not intelligence.

Make praise specific.

Praise in private.  Praise is feedback - not an award ceremony.

Offer praise only when there's a good reason for it.

(181)  Sudbury Valley School... gives its students total control over the task, time and technique of their learning.

The Tinkering School  htttp://www.tinkeringschool.com

(185)  Finite and Infinite Games:  A Vision of LIfe as Play and Possibility by James P Carse

Carol Dweck:  Learn to listen for a fixed mindset "voice" that might be hurting your resiliency.

Interpret challenges not as roadblocks, but as opportunities to stretch yourself.

Use the language of growth - for example, "I'm not sure I can do it now, but I think I can learn with time and effort."

(185)  Good Work:  When Excellence and Ethics Meet by Howard Gardner, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and William Damon

(187)  Why We Do What We Do:  Understanding Self-Motivation by Edward L Deci with Richard Flaste

Mindset:  The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

(192)  Punished by Rewards:  The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn

(193)  Maverick:  The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace by Ricardo Semler

(197)  Peter Drucker's 2005 Harvard Business Review article, "Managing Oneself."

(198)  [Jim] Collins [Built to Last] suggests four basic practices for creating a culture where self-motivation can flourish:
1.  "Lead with questions, not answers."
2.  "Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion."
3.  "Conduct autopsies, without blame."
4.  "Build 'red flag' mechanisms."  In other words, make it easy for employees and customers to speak up when they identify a problem.

(217)  www.danpink.com/drive.html, free quarterly newsletter

Monday, January 24, 2022

Energy and Equity: Ivan Illich Uses Transportation as an Example

 Energy and Equity by Ivan Illich

NY:  Harper and Row, 1974


(page10-11)  The energy crisis cannot be overwhelmed by more energy inputs.  It can only be dissolved, along with the illusion that well-being depends on the number of energy slaves a man has at his command.   For this purpose, it is necessary to identify the thresholds beyond which power corrupts, and to do so by a political process that associates the community in the search for limits.  Because this kind of research runs counter to that now done by experts and for institutions, I shall call it counterfoil research.  It has three steps,  First, the need for limits on the per capita use of energy must be theoretically recognized as a social imperative.  Then, the range must be located wherein the critical magnitude might be found.  Finally, each community has to identify the levels of inequity, harrying and operant conditioning that its members are willing to accept in exchange for the satisfaction that comes of idolizing powerful devices and joining in rituals directed by the professionals who control their operation.

(19)  The model American puts in 1,600 hours to get 7,500 miles:  less than five miles per hour.  In countries deprived of a transportation industry, people manage to do the same, walking wherever they want to go, and they allocate only three to eight per cent of their society’s time budget to traffic instead of 28 per cent.  What distinguishes the traffic in rich countries from the traffic in poor countries is not more mileage per hour of life-time for the majority, but more hours of compulsory consumption of high doses of energy, packaged and unequally distributed by the transportation industry.

(26)  He (the habitual passenger) takes freedom of movement to be the same as one’s claim on propulsion.  He believes that the level of democratic process correlates to the power of transportatioin and communication systems.  He has lost faith in the political power of the feet and of the tongue.  As a result, what he wants is not more liberty as a citizen but better service as a client.  He does not insist on his freedom to move and to speak to people but on his claim to be shipped and to be informed by media.  He wants a better product rather than freedom from servitude to it.  It is vital that he come to see that the acceleration he demands is self-defeating, and that it must result in a further decline of equity, leisure and autonomy.

(32)  Tell me how fast you go and I’ll tell you who you are.

(38-39)  By now, people work a substantial part of every day to earn the money without which they could not even get to work.  The time a society spends on transportation grows in proportion to the speed of its fastest public conveyance.  Japan now [1974] leads the United States in both areas.  Life-time gets cluttered up with activities generated by traffic as soon as vehicles crash through the barrier that guards people from dislocation and space from distortion.
NB:  Ivan Illich watches “Traffic” with Jacques Tati

(45)  The compulsory consumption of a high-powered commodity (motorized transport) restricts the conditions for enjoying an abundant use value (the innate capacity for transit).  Traffic serves here as the paradigm of a general economic law:  Any industrial product that comes in per capita quanta beyond a given intensity exercises a radical monopoly over the satisfaction of a need.  Beyond some point, compulsory schooling destroys the environment for learning, medical delivery systems dry up the non-therapeutic sources of health, and transportation smothers traffic.
NB:  Elinor Ostrom

(54) Their [planners'] belief in the effectiveness of power blinds them to the disproportionately greater effectiveness of abstaining from its use.

(60)  Man on a bicycle can go three of four times faster than the pedestrian, but uses five times less energy in the process.  He carries one gram of his weight over a kilometre of flat road at an expense of only 0.15 calaries.  The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man’s metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion.  Equipped with this tool, man out strips the efficiency of not only all machines, but all other animals as well.

(75-76)   There are two roads from where we are to technological maturity:  one is the road of liberation from affluence;  the other is the road of liberation from dependence.  Both roads have the same destination:  the social restructuring of space that offers to each person the constantly renewed experience that the centre of the world is where he stands, walks and lives.
NB:  JG Ballard and Ivan Illich