links for 2010-08-06

06 Aug
  • Powerful corporate departments, like HR and finance, often seem more interested in enforcing blanket policies than in making life easier for employees. When Vineet would ask front line employees, “What have the enabling functions done to help you create value in the value zone?” he was usually met with silence. When it came to interacting with these functions, most employees were mere supplicants—a situation that was hardly empowering. The solution: a web-based “Smart Service Desk” where any employee could open a “service ticket” if they had a complaint with an internal staff group. Once opened, the ticket could only be closed by the concerned employee, once their issue had been resolved.
  • …point about privacy is that it is not just about being alone: it is also the starting point and necessary condition for all public action of any value. Without our space for personal control and the free roam of the imagination, without intimacy, without things that we call our own, there can be no public man either. ‘A life spent entirely in public’, says Hannah Arendt, becomes ‘shallow’. Without a private space into which we can retreat, one can only repeat accepted ways of thinking, one can only respond to pressures rather than to dictate them according to one’s own agenda. A person dissolves into the flickering push and pull of situations. Sofksy writes: ‘Notorious conformists are people without obstinacy, without inner substance. They echo what others say and agree with everyone. They have no opinions and no memory; indeed, they seem not to have a relationship with themselves.’ For the ‘transparent citizen’, nothing is hidden, nothing resisted – and nothing created either.
  • One of the reasons why the US and much of Europe consistently produce better literary fiction—more interesting debut novels, more polished short story and essay collections, stellar non-fiction—is that it’s not that easy to get published.
    About a decade ago, the hegemony of Penguin India in mainstream publishing gave way to intense competition as four or five publishing houses came up in its wake. This should have led to better work, and better edited books, but what it unleashed instead was a flood of superficial writing that might best be called fake literature, as editors struggled to meet their commissioning quotas.
    …It’s time for publishers to start being gatekeepers again, to step away from the mediocre, the easy successes, the frozen-pizza school of writing—easy to sell, easy to consume, of no nutritional value whatsoever.
  • The easiest way to discredit a woman writer, or womens' writing in general, is to call it obscene, to set yourself up as Narain Rai did, as a morality cop.
    Ismat Chugtai had the right answer so many decades ago. Some of us are girls who are not respectable, who are in many ways, out of place, out of control. And much as we make men like Narain Rai, who is, incidentally, a former IPS officer, uneasy, even angry, we aren't that easily brought back into line.
  • Dear writer I will not be naming:
    Look, I get it. You spent years on a book, researching and writing and editing and waiting for the final product. And now it's here, and someone at some literary webzine called Bookslut has the gall to disagree with some of the things in your book. You are probably pissed off…you'd like to argue a little, maybe work up a response for catharsis or intellectual reasons…
    Argument and discourse are one thing. Bullying, shaming, lying, and manipulating are all part of a whole other realm…my writer is not some comment section lightweight you can push around. She has multiple books on her CV, as well as being a scholar and critic of note, and she happens to know when she's being bullshitted and mistreated. And if you think I'm not mentioning your name out of some sort of respect, really, it's only because I don't want any more publicity for your book than it is already receiving. I don't want your name on anyone's lips more than is absolutely necessary.
  • Taking someone’s worded opinions as being sacrosanct and trying to re-live their travel experiences would result in massive disappointments, especially if the author in question is a major fan boy of the place he has visited, for reasons that you would not necessarily subscribe to.
    What I have managed to learn from all this is that there are a few good reasons to visit a certain place and those reasons will remain constant. A subset of those reasons would comprise what I have mentioned at the beginning of this piece.
    However, your outlook and what you expect out of your travel would strongly differ from mine, or that of the travel writers’ and if this distinction in individual tastes is accounted for, then the appreciation that you have for those who write about where they go to and what they do when they get there might increase beyond you merely appreciating what good wordsmiths they seem to be.
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Posted by on August 6, 2010 in Uncategorized


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