Saturday, February 27, 2010

Of Human Management

Dear Shiddy,

In the way that there are people who derive great pleasure from calculating numbers or measures or notes; people who can assess the strength of a beam or building, who predict the time between accidents, deaths, or weather... that is the way in which I enjoy considering people around me. At its most dumb, my latent anthropologist spends a lot of subliminal energy reacting to and examining how I interact with others, and they with others,
ad infinitum. This lends itself to a fairly crippling yet pleasurable sense of nostalgia, which I think it's fair to say is a major component of my personality. (Aside: an older friend once insisted that no one really knows nostalgia until their late 30s. I beg to differ.)

So there really isn't much outside of relationships that interests me about the world. When I respond to music, I'm approaching it from its real or imagined backstory. Photographs: more about the framing than the content. Nature- the way we all move through its space. (I kind of hate that word, what the hell is nature, anyway?) And as my twenties feel further in the past, I find myself in roles where I'm constantly managing other humans. Mostly grownups. And I think I like it most of the time.

That sounds manipulative, here is more what I mean: in my current occupation my tasks revolve around some hybrid art of influencing, hosting, encouraging others to connect and share information. To give in to the more human. Sometimes this coaxing only takes the form of me being an example of empathy or earnestness or frankness. There's almost nothing dark or clever about it, though I often want to indulge that aspect.

It is a strength of mine: rallying a group around a purpose. I am persuading, tailoring my words or actions to another vocabulary, customizing a way of being with a particular individual.
I like determining how to be with each other- or at least setting up a series of possible ways of being together, better ways than what has come before. It makes me feel powerful. I work to articulate a public facet of intimacy- the one in which we tell mere acquaintances what we want, and they tell us their desires in turn. And the private instances as well.

If all that I have just described is so valuable to me, if I am detailing these qualities as the essence of what I do or am; then I guess it makes sense that the past would be my most important reference point and study aid. Because past relationships, events, dialogues form an amalgam of technique and intuition that gets richer and more accurate with each experience and contact.

And when a person from my past or present makes a reciprocal gesture toward me- one imbued with a similar attentiveness, affection, consideration- it feels like the world is speaking back to me, assuring me that there is nothing else.