“A brilliant critique, but above all a persuasive vision of a humanitarian economy.”
A comedy of errors
Introduction to a “comic” book of potentially tragic consequences
To what extent should we convey ideas using words and text and to what degree should we rely on pictures and illustrations? Judeo-Protestant believers and Roman Catholic ones have come to blows on such issues and have smashed images. It is idolatrous to portray the divine save through words. “In the beginning was the Word…” and the printing press. In much of the West the Word seems to have triumphed, yet in East Asia words themselves are picture-graphs and composites of ideas. In this book we have yielded much space to pictures and our audience are neither children nor artists but those who think.
The comic and comedy are widely regarded as flippant and unserious, aiming to entertain not inform. We seek to invoke the serious side of comedy which is to laugh at yourself before it is too late. In Ancient Greece comedy and tragedy were the two faces of their religion. The comic festival of Dionysus was held in December, the tragic festival in late April-May. It was said that if you could not laugh in December you would weep in May. The dramas were not entertainment, they were worship of the vagaries of the human condition. In comedy opposed values bounce off each other unexpectedly and harmlessly and people who think themselves important are seen as absurd. In tragedy opposed values grind painfully against each other and suffering is palpable. Comedy is “first aid” for human errors. Tragedy confronts you with the consequences. Yet because it is “play”, it does not hurt so much and the audience learns from what they watch not to enact such folly. It is better to bounce than to grind. Let us learn to laugh while there is still time.
Charles Hampden-Turner is a British national and is currently based at the University of Cambridge Judge Institute of Management Studies. He received his masters and doctorate degrees from the Harvard Business School and was the recipient of the Douglas McGregor Memorial Award, as well as the Columbia University Prize for the Study of the Corporation.
He won Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Ford Foundation Fellowships and has worked as a consultant for Shell, BP, Digital Equipment, The Economic Council of Canada, the BBC, Philips, Nissan, DSM, Dow Chemical, AMD, Sematech and Apple computers among others.
Charles Hampden-Turner joined us in 1990. He has conducted research throughout Europe and North America and is the author of nine books, including: Maps of the Mind, MacMillan (1981), translated into French, German and Dutch, Charting the Corporate Mind, Basil Blackwell and the Free Press (1990) and Corporate Culture: Vicious and Virtuous Circles. He has worked with Fons Trompenaars on The Seven Cultures of Capitalism, Mastering the Infinite Game, Building Cross-Cultural Competence and 21 Leaders for the 21st Century.