Steve, his battles with management
Now that he's growing much older he realises that it's not that easy to remove it, when he was younger he'd thought that it wasn't going to be that difficult.
It's easy being a manager but killing it isn't, because if its really necessary to kill it by shedding the layers of skin (one of between seven and nineteen according to those authors or bestiaries worthy of consultation), at least one layer has to be left, because the management is Steve himself and what he'd like to do is get out of the role but stay in Steve himself with at least one layer of skin to hold him together, to pass from the poly- to the monochephalic. I'd like to see you do it he says, envying those mythical revolutionaries who managed to remove their many headed oppressors like Hercules who killed his with a single sweep of the sword and resultant gaudy fountains of blood.
It's one thing to kill a multi-skinned monster like management and something else again to be that monster who had originally only been Steve and would like to go back to being him, who had over the years gained so many epidermis's. For instance you shed a skin, say the one that maintains the user requests, then you shed the one that collects compact disks, and then the removal of the one that delegates authority to your friends Andy or Jared, and then peel off the skin that endlessly desires to be in a bar in Soho with a glass of red wine, an espresso and an illicit forbidden cigarette. Well now what about the results ?
Well there are four layers of skin fewer but the remaining layers of management are only in a minor crisis as they cogitate furiously about the mournful loss of the four outer layers. On the other hand the need to not go to the Tuesday 10-30 meeting and the Thursday 16:00 hours senior management meeting (because Steve is no longer bored to death by the managerial desire for meetings) has gone, as has the obsessive desire to purchase every CD of Cecil Taylor (Steve is missing three of the FMP series of Berlin recordings from 1988, he thinks one of them is no longer available and this threatens to reduce the value of the other recordings. Let the obsessive managerial desire for completeness die with another skin.) What's more its weird, he thinks, to sip espresso and not suffer from the desire to ponce a cigarette from the utterly desirable > = 40 year old French woman sitting opposite him reading liberation. Lets take advantage of this desire for the end of management and flay the skin that endlessly wants intelligence, rationality and the ability to listen to be evident in his managerial controllers, since he'll never get that anyway. The will for disorder, he thinks shedding the skin that wishes he never had to speak to people he knows he cares nothing at all for, the desire for drinking at lunch time, the books and magazines piled up in order of proposed reading.
But its difficult to eradicate managerialness and return to the essence of Steve, he can feel this already in the thick of the battle. To begin with he's writing it on a computer with dreadfully known and ordered software, that he turned on and then walked into the kitchen for a drink as he always does, when actually he wasn't even that thirsty, collecting the writing chair en-route when a perfectly comfortable chair was already in front of the computer, but that is the ritual, and let's not forget to mention the dimmed spotlights, the jazz music from the stereo and the Swedish lamp with its eight positions and dimmer switch with a maximum of 75 watts, hanging over the desk like a JCB crane, delicately balanced so that the carefully directed light doesn't spill onto the screen. A quick slice and then a slow almost reluctant peeling off of that decaying writers skin. Another layer falling to the rush matting floor. Steve is beginning to feel that he is starting to get closer to himself, hope begins to build up, doesn't it.
Steve will never know how many layers he'll have to slice off before he's reduced back to one and the unemployability that will arrive because the phone suddenly warbles and its work calling asking about the collapse of the database re-loading job, (Balvinder one of the DBAs is currently driving to Milan to celebrate his marriage) he tells them what to do and they restart the job. It warbles again and its Zofie who talks about meeeeeeeeeting at the Phoenix where they are showing the latest Eric Rohmer movie. He realises that he hasn't been peeling off the managerial skins in the correct order because his first reaction is no way, Zofie is cross on the other end of the line, don't push your luck Stevie baby, Eric Rohmer, Eric Rohmer, cinema, cinema, we don't go out together enough Steve, don't push me if you want to ..... you know Steve, you don't think you can come out of this fight in one piece that's oozing bad pheromones and testosterone etc, Rohmer, Rohmer and there are values baby and values, merde, arse in bush, then she slams the phone down and he knows he's in the shit again tonight and that when she gets back from the movies he'll be lectured about life, money, shit, the lack of flowers (the skin that buys flowers having atrophied, died and dropped off before it bought any) and the blue shirt that he shouldn't have bought from the Paul Smith shop in Covent garden. Steve realises that he should have peeled the skin that project manages, orders, respects and hierachizes time, maybe in that way everything would have softened, become more fluid, less bio-mechanical and he'd have been able to switch Zofie points, Cecil Taylor absences, the desire for control and being ordered, instructed into different sequences and Eric Rohmer of course. Now its late, no Zofie of course, not even late night words and hot chocolate to talk about the battle over, since there is no battle. Whichever skin is removed they'll always be an authoritarian one left, draped over ones shoulder, not even directly attached just whispering about the desire to be obedient, to be ordered. He thinks what he'd most like to be is a parasite, a small animal that follows the law of transformation through unpredictable bifurcation's, which in multiplying changes produces epidemics that puts larger animals to death but then exposes itself to sudden disappearances. It's time to answer the e-mail that's building up, in ten minutes the beer will have run out and it'll be time to head for the ritual kitchen search again, it's clear that they have started to grow back again, that cutting or peeling them off won't work since they're a viral, bacterial infection which he must have caught when he was very small, (probably from his father), a need to belong, to obey, to order. He sighs over his need to give and receive orders and wonders how come he ended up a minor league control freak, then stands up and heads off into the kitchen. Keys are rattling in the door Zofie is back smiling, Eric Rohmer has been kind to him, management ideology falling to the floor like the flakes of dandruff off an infected scalp.
Steve de Vos - London 10 March 1998
Steve and his Email
Steve, Friends (1)
Introduction to the Hypertext Novel
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