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April 22, 2005

Servitude: Ambition, Mastery & Power

You cannot achieve Servitude without having attained Mastery.

I while ago I came up with a pedagogical hierarchy for my craft, the craft of computer programming, systems building and data architecture. I have found a certain resonance in this and in life.

I have been learning lessons in humility the past couple years and many of them could be summed up in this quote by John Boyd:

"The most important thing in life is to be free to do things. There are only two ways to insure that freedom — you can be rich or you can you reduce your needs to zero."

Furthermore, I am motivated at this point in my life to be a vessel of spirit. One of the heads of CocaCola said famously (although he probably wasn't the first "There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you are willing to share the credit."

I think that the first time I comprehended the idea of Spirit outside of the context of religious teaching was via Allen Wheelis. It had a resonance that I could see, it added a transcendent quality to the kind of writing I planned to do as a Freshman studying Computer Science. I was going to embed knowledge into the soul of a new machine. I felt demiurgic. And so I have come back to collect this matter more than twenty years later.

The Roles of Ambition

The Clueless Newbie
The Newb has no idea but he's absolutely dumbstruck by the possibilities. He knows it, and he's just ansking questions and trying not to get on anybody's nerves. He wants to get in on it because he realizes the value of this whole area of expertise. What the Newbie needs most is to get taken seriously. He needs to try something

The Apprentice
The apprentice knows what he wants to do, but not quite how. He has skills but not experience. He has ambition and drive and he's out to prove something. He's full of 'I can do this' and he hates making mistakes. He's looking for ways to do what he knows can be done, and he sets out to find the right tools. He hates hearing that it's been done and that his thoughts have been thought before, but his callsign is determinate. He's aiming to be graceful. What the Apprentice needs most is a win.

The Workhorse
In my craft, that of software, it takes at least two years to get to know anything about anything. Whatever the tool is (and you're lucky if you get to pick a tool that has enduring value), you're going to be using it inefficiently for at least two years. Unless you have the good fortune to get onto a very well organized project that allows you to concentrate on a decent variety of applications of a single tool, you're going to fumble around with it. The Workhorse knows his toolset. He can make it do whatever it's supposed to do. He has confidence and competence. You can throw anything at the Workhorse and he can explain it in the language of his tool. He'll make it work, and that's what he likes to do. What a Workhorse needs is a steady stream of work and a stable environment. The Workhorse stands on the brink of Mastery. He knows two or three ways to accomplish the same task. He stands in fear of the irrelevance of his toolset.

The Hotshot
The Hotshot has achieved Mastery. He has explored the limits of his tool and has made it do things that it wasn't designed to do. He's ready to get to the engineers of the tool and tell them what they ought to do with it next. He is arrogant with his capabilities and is ready to shout down pretenders. He has done The Big Thing that his toolset was designed to do and now he's unstoppable. He is now hungry to go out and conquer.

The Roles of Mastery
At this level we reach the plateau of Mastery. When a tool stops changing, there is nowhere to go , The first step above mastery has two forms. One is the Guru and the other is the Goto Guy.

The Goto Guy
The Goto Guy is the one to you go to for results. He is the Hotshot who is now dedicated to creating others in his own image. He is all about market domination. He has earned the respect of most and the envy of Hotshots. He is the first person a Newbie wants to talk to. The Goto Guy must be approachable and gregarious. He can see the big picture but is focused on results. The Goto Guy needs resources and opportunity. He builds momentum and seeks to establish permanance through engendering real-world dependence.

The Guru
At the same level of Mastery as the Goto Guy is the Guru. The Guru is like the Goto Guy but as the Goto seeks domination in the world of application, the Guru seeks perfection of the tool. He adds to Mastery, the extraordinary details and subtle refinements of technique. He is worldly but extrapolates and projects. He is the keeper of the integrity of the toolset refines its Way. He seeks to establish permanance through engendering adherence to conceptual
beauty and completeness.

Below Mastery is Ambition. At Mastery is Balance. Above Mastery is Power. The Servant moves in all these directions at once.

The Roles of Power

The Lord
The Lord is a man with long arms, busy hands and a loud mouth. He is the bossman, and he knows you only too well. He makes it his business to make your business taking care of his business. The function of the Lord is to attach himself like lamprey at he base of your skull and insert himself into your thought process so that you considere your every action with respect to the Lord's business. He lords over you. The Lord employs spies and . What the Lord fears most is treachery and heroism, for these are the generators of unpredictability. The Lord is a master planner and strategic thinker, he gets his fingers into everything.

The Demiurge
The Demiurge is the Second Soul to God. His power is the generate awe and inspriration through magnificent acts of creation. The Demiurge consumes resources and is impatient. He is visionary and seems to pass through life with a different sense of time and space. The Demiurge is equally creator and destroyer. He is urban renewal, he is revolutionary, he is dramatic. He splits the world into two, those who stand behind him and those who stand in his way. The Demiurge is already an irresitable force, the most important question is where does he get his license, for very rarely unless they play in the realm of the mind or spirit, is the Demiurge his own source of power.

The Primary
The Demiurge builds the amusement park, the Lord makes you stand in line. The Primary is why you are all there. The Primary needn't exist and usually does not. The Primary is the Reason, the Idea. The Primary motivates everything. He is unquestionable and irresistable. He is not only Master of the tools but Master of the environment. He stands with his finger on the center of gravity of his domain, he balances the Tao. Everyone believes they know the Primary, and everyone thinks they know what he wants, but only the Lord and the Demiurge get that close. The Primary takes all the credit and all the blame. He is Servant of the system of his creation, he directs the creation and destruction.

The Way of the Servant
So now that you've lasted this far, we arrive at the way of Servitude, Service and Servility. I haven't decided the best term, but the concept is clear. The lessons of middle age are that Servitude is a result of power. It rather goes full circle. As Primary, Demiurge or Lord, you are subject to attack. The mistake of the Gangster is that he wants to be all three, but a Hegemon disappears into his system. He becomes at one with the process and can assume any role. He is in service to his creation, his tools, his system and at a certain point, doesn't care which role he takes. His only concern is the success and integrity of the system of which he partakes.

This is truly sublime and it is the beauty of this that attracts me. If power corrupts, it is because people forget to Serve. And it is only in absolute Service that absolute power can be borne. This applies to Kings as well as Popes, and this is the point I wanted to support about Ratzinger's humility. This is the thing that will enable him to weild power. American liberals want him to be a Demiurge but they forget that inherent in great creation and reform, is great destruction and the chaos of change. They want him to serve the ideas they have championed with no regard to the balance of the Catholic Church.

I have had in the China Deal, my opportunity to become Demiurgic, and it will be some time before I see such an opportunity to come again. And so I have returned in the mode of Service to become once again, a Goto Guy in my old domain. It's a good place to be.

The Servant is free to move no matter what his ambition. But the Servant can be false. He can feign servility and actually be self-serving or serving a false ideology or a treacherous master. But the dedicated Servant, the true Servant is brother to all in the system.

There is something greater than power in the Way of the Servant, it is the beauty of the expression of the human spirit, for our power lies not within ourselves or our actions, but in our collective shape. We are constrained from knowing our collective destiny and so it can be said that all we know for certain is the depth of our commitment. In this is found our honor, and if we achieve, our glory.

Posted by mbowen at April 22, 2005 02:35 PM

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The social networks of the periods in Jaynes’ focus (and perhaps many of our own) were spiral-ring networks organized around a central hub. This hub, in general, led to god, god’s messenger, or the domain of gods. Near the hub, there were often ‘special servants’ of various sorts. Simultaneously, many individuals appear to have had personal gods, or something of a analgous nature, such as the guardian angel metaphor we are still familiar with in the modern moment.

Jaynes’ explorations imply that we experienced a pseudo-schizoid interaction with our own rapidly developing minds (and partially our brains) which was primarily hallucinatory, and thus, essentially illusory. His model is one in which whole civilizations existed where everyone was cohesively and collectively hallucinating celestial-admonitory consciousnsness. There was no term for ‘insane’ it was synonymous with being alive. Memory was not locally stored, but instead largely or completely externally entokened, as was authority. It could be called upon via various physical or behavioral accoutrements. People could use idols, for example, in order to trigger various kinds of ‘replay’ events, or as a means of activating the internal cognitive momentum that resulted in ‘listening’.

Having directly experienced a bicameral phase in my adult life, I can frankly offer that it is possible (and desireable) to experience something like a god, (and a celestial friend-messenger) as an internally local second mind. The relationship is unlike our metaphors of it. He sketches this as something which was once a network-event, televised, in a sense, largely upon the auditory channels of the minds of groupmembers. What he is actually modeling is an example of a cognitive group-organism — where individuals are more agent than member, and it makes incredibly good sense that, before we internalized this as metaphoric assembly, we embodied it in similar collectives. If not with his specific model, then with one which conserves a great deal of similarity to it.

In my opinion, his model of a god is hidebound in psychological haberdashery. It does not allow for the possibility that a bicamerally active person in a supportive environment might actually be talking to something that isn’t internal, or isn’t precisely internal — or might actually qualify as God, or Gods. He ignores ideas of superfunction, because he is theorizing, rather than relating his own experience of having, for example, been led through such a story by a God. We need a new way of connecting with what the term God refers to, and our systems in every possible way have failed us in providing this experiental access.

The Gods of the bicameral people, and of those who were to, much later, be known as prophets were not the illusory manifestations of broken or primitive minds. They were instead an assembly-aspect of a very real and completely embodied network of human sentience arising in constant linkage with ecosystemic, planetary and celestial sentience. In the modern moment, we miss the vast significance of this in the genesis of our species and persons — because the organismal sources we were once in direct contact with it have been largely co-opted or silenced. They lie buried at the center-Base of a mountain of stories, experts, language, and metaphors.

more: http://www.organelle.org/organelle/wrab/rab6.html

Posted by: cnulan [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 23, 2005 08:57 AM

While this hierarchy wasn't concieved in any way to deal with divinity or the role of religion in the general pedagogy, I am hip to your last paragraph.

It was through the fictional illustration of society on the verge of literacy, Delany's Neveryon Series, that I came to understand religion as a pedagogy in its own right. What were the prophets but storytellers, the greatest storytellers of all, in a world without communication technology.

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 23, 2005 08:16 PM