Random on a Monday: “Hillary, can you excite us?”

Excite you

A young African-American student at Harvard who supports Hillary Clinton asks, “Hillary, can you excite us?”

Now that is a great question. There’s a world in that question. Here’s my view: if you’re not exciting people, you or your idea will not fly. Doesn’t matter how “good”, how deserved, how competent, how whatever you are, it’s not worth the candle if it doesn’t excite others. And in order to excite others, it has to excite you. So underneath the question is another version of the same thing: “Hillary, do you excite you?”

Second great question: what is exciting? Here’s my view: human beings are liable to be surprised by what excites them. Usually, it’s not what you would expect.

Credentials as a hedge against being wrong

A friend contacts me this morning to say he’s been hired for a temporary role in a state government department. His job is to recruit people with a “knowledge of evaluation frameworks” to three vacant research positions in the department. The positions come with a modest salary of $90-100,000 and no-one below PhD level will be hired. In fact, he says, he’s the only one in the department who doesn’t have a PhD.

Now that is the definition of a fearful organisation, an organisation mired in the paradigm of blame and fault. If we can only hire enough qualifications, the unconscious/conscious reasoning will go, we’ll be safe. Safe from what? From being wrong. There is no limit to what people will do to avoid being wrong.



16 thoughts on “Random on a Monday: “Hillary, can you excite us?”

  1. A great post. I love your insight that we can’t excite others if we’re not exciting ourselves. I agree completely with that one. I also think organizations miss out on a great deal when their actions are based on fear of being wrong. For me, this is one of the great paralyzers of the world’s unlimited potential…



    • Hi Michael. Totally agree, fear of being wrong is the great paralyser. And it’s everywhere. In writing this post, I got that I haven’t been exciting myself for quite a while. Going to create something new in that area today. Best wishes!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yep, Mr T is excited with himself. It’s a reason why he occurs to himself as impervious. To an outsider like me, DT is playing out a well-known trope/type in US mythology — the snake oil salesman. Hillary I don’t see as playing a trope. The article I linked to mentions Angela Merkel. She may be playing out a trope in German mythology — the imperturbable, phlegmatic mutter/grandmutter. That will also be exciting to people. It’s a paradox that when playing a trope one is also being authentic.


  2. A great question. Sanders thinks he can excite people by shouting; Trump think he can excite by going way over the top (even his endorser Sarah Palen thinks she is an exciting rock star shouting “Hallelujah!). But where are the ideas? In fact, where are ANY of the ideas? Remember the guys in NASA for the moon shot solemnly advising: “Houston, we’ve got a problem!?
    Dr. A has been retired for nearly 30 years, and for some time before retirement he could not hire anybody who didn’t have at least a Masters.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I will miss Barack Obama for his amazing skill as an orator. His final State of the Union address was amazing, especially after he got past the “America is the best; America is the mightiest” part of the speech. How many people can speak for over an hour, keeping hold of the thread, not consulting any notes and never saying “um” or “er”? I used to get excited about Hillary, but I’m not so thrilled any more. I’m liking our own Justin Trudeau more and more. He’s hesitant in his speech, but does seem to have a grasp on his own principles. Time will tell.

    I am currently reading the novel “Submission” (“Soumission” in French) by Michel Houellebecq. It’s a political satire, imagining a situation in which a Muslim party upholding traditionalist and patriarchal values leads the 2022 vote in France and forms a government. The theme is provocative, but the protagonist is in a continual process of analyzing events without feeling any excitement or having any opinions whatsoever.


    • His skill as an orator is huge. I will miss him for his grace in allowing us to see the burden and not pretending he’s unscathed, unwearied. Reveals the deadly machismo that reigns elsewhere. JT: definitely exciting! Sexy, real, young, son of a charismatic figure from my childhood whose name sounded magical to me (so not suburban Sydney). Heaps of possibility there.

      I think you’re brave reading a Houellebecq novel. Very interested in your phrase about analysing events without feeling excitement or having any opinions. Can you say more?


      • Alright, so the novel is satirical and has to be understood in that context. The main character, François, is in a state of anomie–“a condition of instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values or from a lack of purpose or ideals” and his condition reflects that of the society around him. I found the novel disturbing, not because of the shift to Islam or the treatment of women, but because of the nonexistence of the experience you have described so well in previous posts–an unexpected sense of wonder, light and love. Having said that, I will probably seek out other Houellebecq novels. This one was not really difficult to read and it made me think about my own beliefs and values.


      • Forget Houellebecq, now all I want to talk about is what you see about your own beliefs and values. Can you share? :)

        From what I’ve read about his novels, I think he’s DOCUMENTING anomie (which occurs like a French tradition and a sort of vanity in “getting” anomie where other cultures are oblivious, cf. Charlie Hebdo). The anomie is the view I used to have of the world. The view that the world is grim, awful and hopeless, that life is to be gotten through, and that human beings are fundamentally depraved; that any goodness or happiness or generosity is a fluke, a temporary aberration. I see this view all around me, and I used to share it too. Now it’s all very different for me and I can see how deluded I was. This is the thing: one can’t see the delusion until one’s out of it.


      • I can’t say what anomie is to Houllebecq, but I think it is a view of the world; that is, it comes from within the individual. Actually, I think you’ve described the condition very well–the individual is in the grips of anomie and cannot see the delusion until he or she is outside of it.

        As to my own beliefs and values, there are certain subjects I am cautious of entering into discussions on, among them abortion and religion, as these discussions often lead to acrimony and seldom come to any satisfactory resolution. People who call themselves atheists often cite the horrors perpetrated in the name of religion as an argument against God, but they are only pointing to the acts of individuals within institutions, which are subject to corruption.

        In a January 2015 interview (http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/01/02/scare-tactics-michel-houellebecq-on-his-new-book/), Houllebecq says that he used to believe he was an atheist but, after the death of his dog and his parents in quick succession, he now sees that he is an agnostic. Of course, taking the position that these matters are unknowable is perfectly correct; after all, faith, by definition, is a belief in something for which there is no proof.

        I don’t think true belief can be formed by attendance at a church but only by an individual’s own inclination and experiences. It is futile to use rational discussion to lead anyone into belief.

        The beauty of the novel, of all novels, is that words are put into the minds and mouths of various characters. The reader, in a safe and solitary way, is drawn to some characters and repelled by others. This can clarify the reader’s own beliefs and values, simply by noting the response and thinking about the words.


      • Thanks for the link and I couldn’t read it. Tried and gave up. Can’t stomach the game of debate or critique any more. What I hear in this one is fear which is ungotten as fear.

        You know this word God. It’s a massive problem, as many point out. And there’s an even bigger problem of a word and that’s “belief”. The word “belief” demonstrates that that which is being thought of is being thought of as a thing. And that-which-goes-by-the-name-of-God is no-thing. Just as you are no-thing and I am no-thing. We think of God as a thing — ie, we believe (or not believe, it doesn’t matter because belief and non-belief amount to the same here) — because we think of ourselves as a thing. And we are no-thing.

        Similar with “proof”. The word “proof” or the demand for “proof” also demonstrates that that which is being thought of is being thought of as a thing. And that-which-goes-by-the-name-of-God is no-thing. And we are no-thing.

        The question to dwell in is not “does God exist?” The question to dwell in is “if I am no-thing, who am I?” If one dwells in that question, the word God reveals itself.

        Liked by 1 person

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