Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Bureaucracy of Storytelling

To the extent your experiences, studies, speculations, and independent observations allow, you reach the conclusion that bureaucracy is a wired-in part of the human genome.  

If, as one of your revered political science professors argued, when there are two persons present, there is politics, when there are three or more persons, there is if not active bureaucracy then at least a breeding ground for it.

One person performing an act may be doing a splendid job, but another person, tasked with the same performance, may well bring an unanticipated dimension to the outcome.  A team of individuals, tasked to perform similar tasks, brings with it the need to justify the extra manpower.

You've been caught up in enough bureaucracies to expand on Tolstoy's comments on happy families by substituting bureaucracy for family, then either laughing at the results or admit the  potential for efficient outcome.  If you stipulate that the hive mentality is a bureaucracy--and you do so stipulate--you look to the benefit of it in your own most personal terms, which is to say honey.  

For the strata of bees living within that system, honey is a necessary product but not the only one.  Even when those of your species make the effort to understand and manipulate the hive mentality with the intent of cashing in on the byproduct of honey, the hive mentality continues pretty well in a condition of health. 

Worker bees do not feel exploited.  Although you cannot presume to be original in likening the hive mentality and its honey byproduct to Marxist theory, you wish you'd have made the connection long ago, when you were in your more argumentative stages, debating for the sake--and fun--of arguing.

You come from a culture where argument was a principal form of entertainment as well as the basis of a now legendary code of ethical behavior, complete with cases, decisions, and written dissents spanning the millennia.  

Your culture argued before radio serials, town hall debates, and moot court contests were initiated, forging a vital, contentious conversation in which, like story, every act, attitude, and opinion was subject to the rhetoric, hyperbole, and passion of those involved to the point where they were being entertained whether they recognized it as such or not.

Of course your culture had--and continues to have--bureaucracy, which you began to notice in the bureaucracies of other cultures about you, then began to notice within your own family and your own culture.  Nor was it lost on you how, on occasion, your mockery of the bureaucracy of other cultures could well be applied not only to your own culture but to yourself as well.

To see anomaly and irony in bureaucracy is no small thing, to see them growing like mold on the bottoms of plant leaves on your own attitudes and behavior is even less small a thing; it is in fact a gaping hole in the armor of hubris.  You feel fortunate that such gaping holes in your own tendencies to hubris were revealed to you first, before anyone else found the need to call them to your attention.

How easy it is to confuse hubris with confidence.  As you began to see the presence of bureaucracy wherever you went and to see yourself moving away from it when possible--even when not diplomatic to do so--you initiated the process of becoming comfortable with your resources, aware of those you lacked, and, to you, most significant of all, the awareness of how much the spendthrift of your resources you've become.

The bureaucracy of storytelling can be helpful if your goal is to be the diplomat rather than the tyrant, the former having a better sound to your left-leaning politics than the later.  Not only because of your experience with massmarket publishing, which is a significant tyrant, but because of your growing comfort with yourself, you see the value of listening to your process rather than arguing with it.

Plenty of time for that later, when the editing comes.

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