Curates We Know

Posted by jlubans on March 20, 2018

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

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