Shadows and status

Chris Corrigan posts this quote from Jack London’s The Sea-Wolf:

I fell to dwelling upon the romance of the fog. And romantic it certainly was—the fog like the grey shadow of infinite mystery brooding over the whirling speck of earth; and men, mere motes of light and sparkle, cursed with an insane relish for work, riding their steeds of wood and steel through the heart of the mystery, groping their way blindly through the Unseen, and clamouring and clanging in confident speech the while their hearts are heavy with incertitude and fear.

Chris talks about the power of shadow. I am reminded of how easy it is, especially for those with power, to use the language of decision and certainty to mask their feelings of fear and doubt. The other day I heard a government official talking about the faults of public sector tendering. This is a policy area that has long frustrated SMEs which he briefly acknowledged… before saying, impatiently, that it was now time to “move on” and come up with “practical solutions”, implying fairly clearly that expressions of feeling were out of the question. A good way to stifle passion for change, I thought, as well as preserving his high status in the room.

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