Abraham and Isaac

He would slay his own son, but awaits the sign on the tele-prompter. (From Phil's upcoming Life and Sayings of the Happy Tutor.) I may not be Boswell, but I owe my friend and mentor at least this much, to preserve the best of his Table Talk for future generations. Tutor may be immortal, but like the classics generally, he is a bit the worse for wear. Unless we capture and codify his aphorisms, there is a chance that they will be tossed out, with the sacks of garbage, when the big truck comes to empty our abode.  What the aphorisms may mean, it is not for me to say. They are a chain of signifiers; we do know that much.

The Butler's Psychology considered as an Allegory of Some Kind

The Happy Tutor, my Mentor, said last night, as the cold wind blew outside our cozy Dumpster, "I have often noticed, Phil, that even the proudest King may be a humbler soul than his Butler." I have certainly noticed that myself, but I don't see why Tutor would remark on this, unless he meant to intimate something profound. So, this morning when I got to the office, I asked Dr. Amrit Chadwallah, The Senior Adjunct in Charge of Forensic Hermeneutics here in Wealth Bondage for his professional opinion. He determined through close analysis that Tutor's remark is, indeed, as I had suspected, "esoteric," but he could not determine if the model was Jesus Christ, Leo Strauss, or the billboards of Leo Burnett. He said, "Phil, correctly interpreting a Text like this could take generations, assuming we had the intellectual tools. The meaning, it would seem, has been intentionally concealed inside a hard shell. Perhaps the goal was to avoid giving offense. Or, perhaps this word-form is a secret message for "eyes only" of the Elect, ages hence, when humankind is more highly evolved. We could break it open with a hammer, but might damage any nut it might contain." Chadwallah went on to say that, in his experience, as Wise Counselors like Tutor age, particularly if they have been hard drinkers, or otherwise addicted to vice, that their apparently profound dicta become increasingly random. He said, "There is no guarantee, when generations hence this aphorism is correctly parsed, that it will mean anything at all." His advice was to let the matter pass without comment. So, I will.

Who is the biggest Dick in Wealth Bondage? A Retraction and Apology

Doing that Survey Monkey last night, after four beers, was the dumbest professional move I ever made, and I regret it. It is just that so many Upstairs Downstairs conversations these days turn on who is the most high status Servant of Wealth and who has achieved the greatest synthesis of the humanities, economics, law, accounting, cultural studies, and the allied professions (sacred and profane), based on what we have overheard of the Table Talk of our Master and/or Mistress in the Great Families we Serve. The Survey was an error in judgment, as was my passing on the results to MSNBC, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and the National Enquirer. I want to apologize to you all, my colleagues and fellow Professionals, for the offense I have so clearly given to many of you. The survey results remain contested. There was some consensus about who was the biggest Dick fifteen years ago, when there were fewer of us, and it was clearly a male-dominated profession, but the current hierarchy (Men and Women of Affairs, Privy Counselors, Maids of all Work, Dancing Masters, Morals Tutors, Scholars for Hire, Secular Priests, Necromancers, Mental Health Professionals, Sociologists, Writers of Family Histories, Hairdressers, Masters of Divinity, Butlers, Nannies, Meditation Instructors, Chauffeurs, Body Guards, Personal Trainers, Voice Coaches, Trustees, Mentors, and so forth) is far less clear. To my friend and colleague, Dick Minim, of the East Coast Minims, heir to the Minim Sausage Fortune, let me say I am particularly sorry for the pain I have caused. I did not think you would take it personally, but now you have drawn my attention to the unfortunate title of the Survey, I can see why you interpreted it as you did. I was grossly insensitive. When I say that the current ratings are mixed, I mean exclusive of my immediate Superior, and Generous Patron, Candidia Cruikshanks, she who Rules us All. She is huge. Whatever we may disagree on, we can at least agree that for a woman to win this year, is real progress for the Field. From humble beginnings as a Servant of Wealth, in the household of The Muffler King Family in Detroit, where she served as Assistant Secular Chaplain, she has risen by her own efforts unaided to become an Ideal Client in her own right. Recent breakthroughs in cloning may mean a Great Family for us all and our children and children's children to serve forever more.

The Author Function

Please respect the cardinal rule of trashpicking

From Freegan Dumpster Directory:

PLEASE, respect the CARDINAL RULE of trashpicking — don’t make a mess! Open bags carefully and reclose them. Make it look like you were never there, so the place you are recovering waste from won’t chase away foragers in the future!

Dumpsters, like social media, are privately owned, but as part of the sharing economy we can at least build a community of sorts, and respect each others' vital interests. Those of our UNHW clients who have been using the trash cans for latrines, after our nightly revels in Wealth Bondage: please respect those for whom these cans are the only source of food. If you need to go, please go behind the Dumpster.


Check the price of wisdom where Supply consorts with Demand

Poor Tutor, I saw him returning today stooped and dejected from a Client Engagement, helping the Wealth Creator discern his life purpose. "What is the matter, Tutor?," I asked the gaunt figure. "I sold my soul," he replied, "to the highest bidder and it did not cover lunch." Yet, I noticed he had managed to cage a bottle of bum wine. Wisdom Consulting does have its perks.

"The nice thing about wisdom is that you can sell it over and over without diminishing your own supply," I told Tutor, hoping to cheer him up, and maybe earn a pull on the bottle. "Virtue," he said "works the same way, if you get your act together. Consider your own Virtue, Phil. How often have we two sold that?" Ah, those were the days, when pimped by Wisdom, my Virtue went for more than a Nanny's weekly wage!

Paul Schervish's Center at BC is Closing

It is the end of an era. Listing those from whom I have learned most on the fingers of one hand, Paul is among them. He has gone deeper into philanthropy, identity, community, spiritual traditions, literature, sociology, and philosophy, than anyone I know as a scholar, but more importantly as a seeker. On top of that, and interwoven with it, has been his statistical research, that has informed and shaped a generation of gift planners. A personal memory: At my invitation, ten or so years ago, he addressed 60 top advisors for a financial firm on philanthropy and moral identity. On a break, we riffed on Northrop Frye, Fables of Identity, archetypal analysis of literature, and C.G. Jung. He said to me, "Does your employer have any idea what they have in you?" To which I thought fit to reply with a chuckle. That momentary recognition, by a world renowned scholar, made me feel less alone, and has kept me trying. He has been a teacher, for many of us, I among them. And he teaches by example. May his new efforts prosper, and may he feel a return current of gratitude, from all of us to whom he has given so much - without him, I would not be who I am, but it is not his fault. 

Social Return on Investment - For pennies, he saved the life of a poor child....

Then, he selflessly mentored her through school, She went on to become a Five Star General, became a double agent, betrayed her county, and was the downfall of an entire civilization. Tens of millions died in agony. What was his Social Return on Investment?

Answer: The problem cannot be solved as given. We would have to know what good or harm, net, the civilization would have done, had she not destroyed it. Also, we would need a univocal measure of "Good" in a world that seems, shall we say, divided over the simplest issues of right and wrong. Just because a prisoner wears an orange jumpsuit does not make him or her a bad person. How can we as Social Entrepreneurs, with limited self-understanding, no knowledge of moral theory, no curiosity about the nature of the good, who cannot in many cases, tell right from wrong, compute the net SROI of any strategy or tactic? What we can do is cherry pick what we measure - and that is wrong, conceptually and ethically. It is who we are, and it is a shame.


Diogenes Plays the The Values Cards at Davos

You have seen him with the lamp looking in broad daylight for the honest man? That is so last millennium before last. Today, as a bogus Secular Priest, in search of brand identity, and product differentiation, and what he calls "modest Patronage," he roams the halls at Davos with a deck of Values Cards, asking potential UNHW clients to sort them. Actually, this is my mentor, The Happy Tutor Dungeon Master to the Stars in Wealth Bondage, but same difference, both do their work stark naked and are beaten in lieu of payment. I asked Tutor if he ever has found an honest client this way, and he said, "No clients, of course, my work is strictly pro bono publico, but I did find an honest man once. He took the Values Cards, laid them all face down, then gave me his business card, after writing on it, 'Guile, mendacity, hypocrisy.' When I flipped the card over it said his name, and title, 'President, Integrity Financial.' I knew then I had found a Trusted Advisor I could trust with my money, if I had any." So, did Tutor find an Honest Patron? O Yes! but the check bounced.

When we dance with the devil who steps on whose hooves?

What are your client's core values? What is the self they wish to enact, the legacy they wish to leave, the impact they wish to have on the world? All around the WB Ballroom, clomp, clomp, clomp, and the cries of pain. Integrity - ouch.  Spirituality - ouch, OMG.  A good Mission Statement for a Dynastic Family, can put a team of  Taxi Dancers in the Hospital with smashed toes, and broken arches. But it is worth it in the end if those kind of Governing Instruments can preserve a Dynasty for 100 years, or more. Best to wear combat boots, though, or work boots, with steel capped toes. Those are your Values, Sir. Who am I to judge?, as the Pope once said.

If a church for the deeply depressed....

....for those without any money or any prospect of it, with a statue at the door, of our Lady of Sorrows, facing a cross in the nave, on which her son died, were to have a liturgy, I wonder how that would differ from the Gospels? To which feckless query, my Tutor replied, Who should we ask, Phil, who would know? Someone wise, probably, don't you, think?

Tutor is getting more difficult, more intransigent, and less coherent, as he gets older. He is wrestling with his own mortality, the mess he made of his life, and long-term effects of alcoholism and academic study. What we, as Wise and Virtuous Counsellors to The World's Wealthiest Families need, I think, is a middle way between the Scylla of Ethical Theory and the Charybdis of Personal Poverty. Speaking for myself, I would like to think that Wealth and Will of God will add up to a bed for the night, and a hot meal.