Friday Flotsam: Personal News, Some Black Humor, and Talking About the Queen at the ‘Everyman’

1. So, the big news: I’ve put in my two weeks’ notice at work and will be starting a new job come October! This one will be fully remote, which is what I’ve been aiming at ever since I took up coding. I’m hoping it’ll be a bit more active, at least so that I’m not constantly worrying that they’ll realize I’m not contributing anything, but in any case it’ll spare me having to go in every day.

It’s at once a relief, since I’ve been trying to get something like this for a long time, but also a little nerve wracking, as is any transition from the old and familiar to the new and untried.

2. In any case, I’m entering a definite transitional state in my life, and I mean to put it to use. So long as I’m changing jobs and schedules, I’m gonna try to change a few habits along with them and, hopefully, speed up my progress in a few areas. We’ll see.

3. Google disappointed me today: I put in “where can I find nice hangings” and not one of the results was “Tyburn”.

Little historical black humor for you.

4. And for the record, I meant ‘wall hangings’

5. We had a ‘positive thinking’ training at work this week. It turned out to be more a demonstration of how much context can affect your message. What they actually said was generally not much different from what I’ve heard and found useful from a dozen other psych lectures, about changing your thinking to correct your emotional state and so on.

But I found that having this being taught by the big corporation I work for and am (were) financially dependent on was quite different from reading it in a book of hearing it from a counsellor. In the first place, I don’t get any kind of sense of a genuine wish to help when I receive this from a company-sponsored class. In the second, from the setting and the examples used, my takeaway was “If you aren’t happy working here, that means there is something wrong with you. Here’s how you can correct yourself, conform to our corporate culture, and become more valuable to us.”

It was rather fascinating: if you don’t trust the good intentions of the speaker, it’s very hard to get a positive outcome from anything they say, even if it’s the content of what is said is the same.

6. That all might just be me, of course, but I was really trying to go along and be, well, positive about it. But the context (and the ‘rah rah, isn’t this loud, garish human warehouse a great place to work?’ sprinkled throughout) was just too much for me.

7. And finally, my latest piece for The Everyman is up, reflecting on the death of the Queen as an American monarchist:

The death of a monarch is a very different thing from, say, the death of a president (as British people have been trying to remind American commentators). A president is a hired manager, standing to the American people after the pattern of a CEO to his employees. It’s an essentially impersonal relationship, except insofar as the man himself chooses to make it personal. Besides which, presidents come and go, and very few stand apart from the office they hold.

A queen, though, is a personal relation. She’s more like the national mother, or grandmother, just as a king is the national father. The death of your CEO may be personally affecting, depending on your view of him, but it can’t compare to the death of a parent.

The closest thing we’ve come to experiencing something like this is, for Catholics, the death of the Pope. But even then, a Pope stands in different relation to the people than a king or queen. He’s the Holy Father; the high priest. His is a mission to which he is called at a particular stage of his life, not one to which he is formed from birth by virtue of his relationship to his people.

As the British conservative commentary channel Podcast of the Lotus Eaters put it, what we are witnessing here is the difference between a traditional society and a ‘social contract’ society. A traditional society is personal; an extension of the family. It is something that simply exists, that grew up organically over time, not something that was built to order. Just as one would have trouble explaining the profound connection between a father and mother and their children, and just why this connection leaves such a mark on people even in cases of estrangement, abandonment, and abuse, so it is difficult to explain the link between a monarch and her people, and why this remains a beautiful thing despite the actions of bad kings and queens (though these usually are not the ones that actually get dethroned, but that’s another story).

Read the rest here.

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