Curates We Know

Posted by jlubans on March 20, 2018  •  Leave comment (0)

Wilfred M. McClay, writing in the Hedgehog Review is not amused by the devaluation of the verb “curate”. No longer the particular purview of the puffed-up, e.g. exquisite Museum exhibits curated by one authority or another, the verb has been further debased, now rubbing patched elbows and shoulders with the hoi polloi:
“The Altoona Truck Stop features a finely curated selection of wines and vittles including a lovingly decanted sauvignon blanc from Saskatoon and a 64 oz Gallo red screw top from Sausalito.”
This degradation somehow reminds me of an octogenarian, in yoga pants, doing a back flip.
Reading this bit of Hedgehog umbrage, took me back to my use of the noun, “Curate”, in May of 2015 when I wrote about the “Curate’s Egg” and its relationship to leading and following.
Below is the stage-setting cartoon followed by a paragraph or two of what I had to say back then:


G. du Maurier’s cartoon, famously known as “The Curate’s Egg”, catches some of the dilemma each of us faces when being a Yes Man (or Woman) – or as PG Wodehouse has it, a “Yesser”. There’s also a bit of the compliant Sheep in the young curate and most of all, the Survivor.
How times have changed, or have they?
The winner of a recent caption contest for this cartoon, has the milquetoast slanging the Bish, “You’re bloody right, this effin’ egg is off!”
While refreshing for its candor the curate’s response – given the power imbalance between the two – would hardly help advance the curate’s career. But, then stranger things have happened. Perhaps the Bishop will slap his knee, and say something like: “You s.o.b! I sure do like a man who speaks his mind! You can do my sermon this Sunday! And, yes you can marry my daughter, tonight, if you wish!”
In Wodehouse’s literary world, the curate was a poor assistant to a vicar, striving to get to the next level, a vicarage of his own. Usually, that meant a guaranteed salary – a sinecure for life, and enough money on which to marry. It was all up to the bishop. So, there was more than a little motivation to not ruffle the bishop, at least not until you got booted upstairs.

To spark one’s leadership or followership, get your copy of “Fables for Leaders” at Amazon. Or ask your library to order a curated copy. Rap your knuckles on the information desk and tell them you want the book, pronto!

© Curated and Copyrighted by John Lubans 2018

Phaedrus’ “THE TWO BALD MEN”

Posted by jlubans on March 16, 2018  •  Leave comment (0)

Caption: Who’s got the comb?

A Bald Man chanced to find a comb in the public road.
Another, equally destitute of hair, came up: “Come,” said he, “shares, whatever it is you have found.”
The other showed the booty, and added withal: “The will of the Gods has favoured us, but through the malignity of fate, we have found, as the saying is, a coal instead of a treasure.”
This complaint befits him whom hope has disappointed.
In verse, one moralist has it:
“They by this tale may be relieved
Whose sanguine hopes have been deceived.”
Life is a rocky road, we are told, full of ups and downs, and that “Many a tear has to fall but – we are sweetly apprised - it's all in the game.”
A ludicrous fable?
Maybe, but the lesson about fate’s “malignity” is there in 72 words.

*Source: The Fables of Phædrus / Literally translated into English prose with notes.” 1887.
For more fables to spark one’s leadership or followership, get your copy of “Fables for Leaders” at Amazon. Or ask your library to order a copy. Rap with your knuckels at the the information desk and thell them you want the book, pronto!

© Copyright John Lubans 2018

“You didn’t build that!”

Posted by jlubans on March 13, 2018  •  Leave comment (0)

Caption: W. Hollar's illustration from John Ogilby's fables, 1668.

Following our recent literary bent,
Shakespeare was no stranger to fables and their powerful messages.*
He alludes and elaborates upon the fable of the “Belly and Its Members” in his The Tragedy of Coriolanus:
The character Menenius is speaking to a mob of unhappy citizens:
“I shall tell you
A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it;
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture
To stale't a little more.”
And Wm. S. goes on and on for over 60 lines about the moral of the fable concluding with this little bit of governmental theory (shared by not a few including Mr. Obama):
“The senators of Rome are this good Belly,
And you the mutinous Members; for examine
Their counsels and their cares; digest things rightly,
Touching the weal o' the common, you shall find
No public benefit which you receive
But it proceeds or comes from them to you,
And no way from yourselves. What do you think?”
And yet, as only Shakespeare can, he gives full credit and maybe some justification for the body’s “mutinous members” vs. the Belly’s rule:
First Citizen:
“Your belly's answer? What?
The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter,
With other muniments and petty helps
In this our fabric ... “

*Source: Thomas Newbigging. “Fables and Fabulists: Ancient and Modern.” 1896
For more fables to guide one’s leadership or followership, get your copy of “Fables for Leaders” at Amazon. Or get thee to a library to order a copy!

© Copyright John Lubans 2018

“A FOWLER AND A PARTRIDGE” by Sir Roger L'Estrange* (1692)

Posted by jlubans on March 09, 2018  •  Leave comment (0)

Caption: Illustration by CHARLES ROBINSON, 1912.

A Fowler had taken a Partridge, and the Bird offer’d her self to decoy as many of her Companions into the Snare as she could, upon Condition that he would give her Quarter.
No, says he, you shall die the rather for that very Reason, because you would be so base as to betray your Friends to save your self.

THE MORAL. Of all scandalous and lewd Offices, that of a Traitor is certainly the basest; for it undermines the very Foundations of Society.
And so it can be at work.
Has this ever happened to you?
After a leadership change, you find yourself on the outs with the new leader.
Your many years of good effort and achievements are now for naught.
So, in defense and to retain some dignity you turn to a close colleague someone you’ve worked side by side with in improving the organization, vastly for the better.
You ask that person if they will stand by you.
The response, indirectly, not to your face, is “No”. No explanation is offered.
Like L'Estrange’s Partridge, the trusted colleague is looking out for Number One; no risking their future!
I wonder if the betrayer has any regrets? Is the treachery worth it?
It wasn’t for the Partridge.

*Source: Aesop’s Fables translated by Sir Roger L'Estrange, 1692.

For more fables to guide one’s leadership or followership, get your copy of “Fables for Leaders” at Amazon. Or get your library to order a copy. Just tell the information desk you want the book!

© Copyright John Lubans 2018

“Similitudes of men”*

Posted by jlubans on March 06, 2018  •  Leave comment (0)

Caption: Andrew Lang, the Scottish poet.

Here is a memorable quatrain from his poem about Aesop published in 1896:
And in the lion or the frog---
In all the life of moor and fen,
In ass and peacock, stork and log,
He read similitudes of men.”

Andrew Lang was born in Scotland in 1844 and died 1912.
Since I have been working with Aesopian fable since late 2010, I found his brief poem especially insightful. Is not reading similitudes of humankind one of life's requirments?

*Source: Thomas Newbigging. “Fables and Fabulists: Ancient and Modern.” 1896

For more fables to guide one’s leadership or followership, get your copy of “Fables for Leaders” at Amazon. Or get your library to order a copy!

© Copyright John Lubans 2018

“All Hat, No Cattle”: The Fly and the Mule.*

Posted by jlubans on March 02, 2018  •  Leave comment (0)

Caption: Engraving by Christopher Hagens, 1667.

A Fly that sat upon the beam
Rated the Mule: " Why, sure you dream?
"Pray get on faster with the cart
Or I shall sting you till you smart!"
She answers: "All this talk I hear
With small attention, but must fear
Him who upon the box sustains
The pliant whip, and holds the reins.
Cease then your pertness - for I know
When to give back, and when to go."

This tale derides the talking crew,
Whose empty threats are all they do.
“All hat, no cattle”, one might say of the fly.
In the workplace, it is good to know the difference between the petty and the consequential.
Our friend the mule knows who’s boss.
Do you?
The fly’s sting is of no concern to the mule; far more concerning is the whip and bit.
And, figuratively, the presumptuous fly can represent the busywork in our lives, those daily detours from the quest.
While facebooking, twittering, or snapchatting (or any other Circe-like daily dalliance) you can get lost in the shrubs and forget to lift up your eyes to the sky.
As an antidote to getting too caught up in the daily grind, the Nordics, we are told, practice friluftsliv or “open-air living”, a literal going off of the grid to regain perspective, to reflect on what’s important and what’s not.

*Source: The Fables of Phaedrus Translated into English Verse. Phaedrus. Christopher Smart, A. M. London. G. Bell and Sons, Ltd. 1913.

For more fables to guide one’s leadership or followership, get your copy of “Fables for Leaders” at Amazon. Or get your library to order a copy!

Peculiar pricing on Amazon! Three re-sellers are offering Fables for over $53 a copy. These are not, alas, rare book dealers recognizing a beautifully illustrated and designed book, but just Amazon wannabe's hoping to market to unsuspecting buyers. $19.99 is still the going price at BookBaby, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

© Copyright John Lubans 2018