Archive for January 2012

Constrained by circumstance and haunted by fate ~ Being John Malkovich   3 comments


                                       

Our society has become so complex that at one time or another everyone at least once in their life has stated, “I wish I could be that person, celebrity, or even gender because they have it all” as in Being John Malkovich (1999) directed by Spike Jonze.

This film was an unconventional, bizarre yet creative “outside the box” narrative revealing the repercussions of one’s actions. The premise was to jump through a postmodern rabbit hole and find one’s utopia in a magical timeless environment.

It began as a self referential subjective movie that functioned on the theory depicting good versus evil with psychological and philosophical twists, in which one man had power over another, mind, body, and possibly soul. The style of the movie flowed as it’s foundation was not only how the narrative was presented but, the way in which it was expressed through it’s ironic moments. The representation of a utopian lifestyle was out of reach for the main characters as their reality slowly became fragmented. Identity dilemmas were prevalent and rose to the surface as the film unfolded portraying one’s mans own personal history and memories disappearing in an instant as the “other” takes over. John Malkovich ( the actor played himself) became obsolete, or does he?

According to Repass (2002) who described the representation of the heterosexual male actor:

Malkovich fits the film so well because, in part, of the image the public seems to have of him. He is described regularly in reviews with phrases like quasi-reprehensibleness and enigmatic sexual attraction, does not seem quite normal or wholesome, and ambiguity of both intent and sexuality (30).

The film revealed the protagonist Craig, a puppeteer who in the first scene had his male puppet dance and perform “Craig’s Dance of Despair and Disillusionment” symbolic of his profession, life, mental and physical appearance of the character. When the puppet glanced into the mirror (as it was a motif), it was the reflection of this Craig that the audience viewed. He gradually entered an unrealistic fantasy world in which he turned his back on his own morals in order to control and manipulate another human being. He had been exposed to a portal into the unknown recesses of an individual’s mind (Figure 1) behind cabinets in his office, on the 7 ½ floor, specifically built to reach the entrance way. It was described by Bowers (2004) as , “This portal could be described as a “novum” or fictional invention in the terms of science fiction but this does not detract from the magical realist element of the film” (p114).” It was a doorway in which the “other” could escape through it’s symbolic order, as French psychoanalyst Lacan described the theory as being the social world of linguistic communication, intersubjective relations, knowledge of ideological conventions, and the acceptance of the law (also called the “big Other”).[1] Group thinking was symbolic as the public accepted the concept of the absurd as the real world turned surreal. According to Dragunoiu (2001):

Although this so-called “real world” seems too fantastic to represent Lacan’s symbolic order, the seventh-and-a-half floor of theMertin Flemmer Building is another of the film’s comic literalizations of psychoanalytic theory. Its empty world of language and deferred desire is a direct evocation of Lacan’s symbolic order where nothing can be possessed in its fullness because language, the single paradigm of all our psychic and social structures, is an endless process of difference and absence that leads the human subject from one empty signifier to         another.

Once revealed, the gateway infiltrated the famous actor’s brain. The questions then arose regarding John Malkovich’s soul, mind and body that was not his own. This was followed by the capitalist theory as Craig partnered with a female coworker, Maxine as she stated, “Let’s sell tickets.” He fell in love with her resulting in selling rides of fifteen minutes sharing the experiences with the public while profiting. Craig’s realization that the portal was a metaphysical, complex containment of sorts leading to the philosophical mixture of issues called the Ship of Theseus, where

Figure 1 The three main characters peering into the portal, Being John Malkovich (1999): identities in crisis?

two things of the same kind are in the same place at the same time. The theory is compared to a Ship and if one piece is removed at a time, at what point in the deconstruction does the Ship move from existence to non-existence? It brought to light the discourse and concepts of the nature of self, the existence of a soul, will to power/free will, selfhood, valuation of pity/compassion and whether I am really me.

In turn, multifaceted dysfunctional relations between identity and behavior were portrayed as the concept of repressed feelings of transgenderism/lesbianism arose when Lotte, Craig’s wife questioned her own gender and sexuality. American culture tends to believe in the binary system as we are born into our sex either male of female whereas, gender was to be learned. According to Lafont (2003) western culture as well as others perceive women as having repressed feelings and desires, “Moreover, women are subject to repressive beliefs and practices that confine and even suffocate their sexual natures” (p.145). In one scene it was not only Lotte who repressed her feelings but, Craig portrayed these characteristics too as the three individuals sat on the sofa (Maxine in the middle like the center of a cookie, in my opinion). Maxine had commented that “people really have to go for whatever they truly desire” and it at that moment Craig and Lotte went with their own personal desires, wants and needs and grabbed her in a moment of passion.

Power and control appeared in the film as being connected with money and fame. These were the unrealistic expectations which were connected to happiness for Craig as he had been unhappily married, struggled financially, and was considered living in a poor class system compared to the rich John Malkovich. All of these social constructs were shown in the film displaying public performances becoming intertwined with private identities.

This film also raised many philosophical questions which would leave the audience pondering over their own personal existence, morals, religious and ethical values. Kaufman’s screenplay according to Smith (2005),  “…was about people who think they have found the “transformative notion” they need, or who find themselves in circumstances where a possibility of change is suddenly opened to them, sometimes by fantastic means.” To simplify the correlation between a film and the theoretical philosophies Shaw (2006) wrote:

a) a film is (minimally) philosophical if it can fruitfully (and plausibly) be interpreted from a philosophical perspective that can enhance our understanding and appreciation of it; b) a film is more philosophical if it is an explicit (and successful) attempt by a director to illustrate a philosophical theory or concept; and finally c) the most profoundly philosophical films are those that further the conversation of mankind (to use Richard Rorty’s apt phrase) about the topic in question, i.e., those that are capable of making  a real contribution to ongoing philosophical inquiries into that issue. Films can ask genuinely philosophical questions, as well as offering new ways of viewing (and sometimes new answers to) such questions. (112)

One interesting aspect of the film had been the religious connotations compounded as to what makes up the structure of an individual as the past and present meld together. When do the ethical and moral beliefs end of one entity and then begin with another host? We are all born into “vessels” and as Benson (1986) commented, “If we are to cleanse the inner vessel, we must forsake immorality and be clean.” It is through these eyes that the audience viewed Being John Malkovich as a thematically voyeuristic movie from the inside out with the background cliché of being careful of what you wish for, as you just might get it.

As the film progressed, Craig obtained the knowledge of perfect and permanent control of Malkovich as he utilized his physical body to acquire fame as a puppeteer, money, and his love, Maxine. Further insight of the characters exposed the Imaginary and Symbolic theory of Lacan showing the relationships of Craig making no clear distinctions as compared to a child between itself and the external world; when it harbored no definite sense of self and lives symbiotically with the mother’s body. [1] As Dragunoiu (2001) described:

This comes as a surprise to Craig, who, unschooled in the tenets of post-structuralism and Lacanian psychoanalysis, subscribes to a Cartesian notion of selfhood, and, in consequence, believes himself to be his own master… So the signifying chain becomes a vicious circle, and the story of the norm itself, of the Symbolic Order, is not that of a “happy end,” but rather of a perpetual alienation. (3)

It was through the structural aspect of the film, the twisting of the final outcome that it became apparent that Lacan’s definitions explained pleasure of the Other at the expense of the subject’s own. This had been seen as Malkovich’s mind and body had become a vessel of service to the public for two hundred dollars/fifteen minutes. As Tyson (2006) mentioned that, “…an object becomes a commodity only when it has exchange value or sign exchange.” (p.62). Not only greed had been the motivations of the characters but, it ranged from fear to love, healthy to unhealthy, isolation to inclusion and violent to compassionate. As seen by Craig locking Lotte up in a cage where her chimp compassionately set her free or the manipulation for greed, and the portrayal of a loving family unit representing the final utopia.

Being John Malkovich was nominated for 3 Oscars at the Academy Awards while earninganother 45 wins plus 48 world wide nominations as it addressed the film appeal of stardom. Solondz (1999) commented on the several other complexities of the film:

Being John Malkovich, the debut feature from Spike Jonze, is as paradoxically cerebral and patently ridiculous as its title implies… Jonze, a director who cut his teeth on the world of music video and TV commercials (is there a distinction?), is an artist who revels in the cult of offbeat aura. He also brings to each of his projects an unmistakable love for the visually illogical… And what, pray tell, is he placing where? Why, other minds into the head of John Malkovich. (The title, as it were, is more than literal.)… The beauty of the film is the way it elevates John Malkovich from an actor to an axiom. It immediately begs the question: Out of all the possible subjects that could have been placed in the title role, why Malkovich? The choice is as perfect as it is ineffable… Remarkable indeed. But there you have it. And obviously, in this case, what remains most interesting is not so much the concept of an audience that wants to see him, but the existence of a writer and director collaborating to place him in a role where all of the aforementioned antithetical forces come into such strong play. The bottom line, in the film’s version of reality, is that Malkovich is neither more nor less than any of the anonymous humans that pass through life without the benefit of limelight incandescence.

Craig’s Dance of Despair and Disillusionment portrayed alienation and questioned the existence of self while opening one’s eyes to the “other” and touching on societal as well as cultural issues of the era. Whereas, Maxine and Lotte’s daughter, Emily now represented the portal in which the climatic moments led to Craig being absorbed into her unconscious viewing life eternally through her eyes, once again alienated. His feelings of immoral thoughts lay dormant now… for his/her mother? As Dragunoiu (2001) concluded, “Craig’s presence in Emily’s unconscious and his lust for her mother set up the Oedipal complex that anticipates Emily’s imminent entry into the symbolic order from which her same-sex parents seem to have escaped” (p.10).

By creating a surreal world, we believed in the characters, their motives and their lives. The connections and winding roads of philosophy/psychology, society/culture, gender/sexuality and even the premise of the yin and yang theory balanced the natural elements represented in this film. Being John Malkovich  explored universal questions and went far beyond human beings, far beyond human nature and far beyond our wildest dreams in search of answers to questions that will remain a mystery to us all…through out eternity beginning with…Who am I?

     

And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you…Friedrich Nietzsche

References

Benson, E. T. (1986). Cleansing the Inner Vessel. Ensign. Retrieved June 24, 2010, http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=9a4def96            0417b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVC            M1000004d82620aRCRD

Bowers, M. A. (2004). Magic(al) realism.New York: Routledge. Retrieved June 30, 2010, from http://books.google.com/books?id=-            uFpzIh7ln0C&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=postcolonial+being+john+malkovich&source=bl&ots=Xs2J-7gLd-&sig=FqRoNsK7g811NzsnUxMM2MyF2M0&hl=en&ei=7t8qTNicHIP78Aa-nuHSCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CCsQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=john%20malkovich&f=false

Dragunoiu, D. (2001). Psychoanalysis, film theory, and the case of Being John  Malkovich. Film Criticism. Retrieved June 29, 2010, from              http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb3076/is_2_26/ai_n28890509/pg_3/?tag=content;col1

Jameson, F. (1977). Imaginary and Symbolic in Lacan: Marxism, Psychoanalytic Criticism, and the Problem of the Subject.  Literature and Psychoanalysis. The Question ofReading: Otherwise, 55/56, 338-395. Retrieved June 28, 2010, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2930443

Lafont, S. (2003). Constructing Sexualities-Reading in Sexuality, Gender, and Culture. UpperSaddleRiver: Prentice Hall.

Repass, S. (2002). Reviews Being John Malkovich. Film Quarterly, 56 (1) 29-36. Retrieved June 29, 2010, from http://www.jstor.org.library.esc.edu/stable/pdfplus/1213907.pdf

Shaw, D. (2006). On Being Philosophical and Being John Malkovich. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 64 (1), 111–118. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.jstor.org.library.esc.edu/stable/pdfplus/3700496.pdf

Smith, D. L. (2005). Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the Question of Transcendence. The Journal of Religion and Film, 9 (1). Retrieved June 28, 2010, from http://www.unomaha.edu/jrf/Vol9No1/SmithSunshine.htm

Tyson, L. (2006). Critical Theory today.New York: Routledge.


[1] http://www.jstor.org.library.esc.edu/stable/pdfplus/2930443.pdf/p. 370


[1] http://www.cla.purdue.edu/academic/engl/theory/psychoanalysis/definitions/symbolicorder.html

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Color Coded Women…   Leave a comment

An Excerpt From My Book ~ A Creative Non-Fiction Portrait Essay ~ Diversity In Our World   4 comments


           

Never sacrifice who you are just because someone has a problem with it. ~ anonymous

I speak from experience as I am a biological female who married and divorced a Transgender man, a FTM (female to male). I want to share what I know now.

Falling in love with anyone is supposed to be the most beautiful experience in life. But, being a Transgender in today’s society can be complicated for them regarding their sacred journey. For those unique individuals they must consider certain factors that most of us take for granted in everyday life. Trust and safety issues are always on the fore front of their minds. For an FTM (female to male) or MTF (male to female), the risk is high of being rejected or finding themselves in a hostile situation, leading to a hate crime. One can even say that they put their lives on the line, daily. Who can one trust in coming out?

According to Riley, & Wong & Sitharthan (2011), “According to Carroll, Gilroy, and Ryan (2002), the extent of “gender privilege” a non-transgender person experiences in society is “alarming and ubiquitous” (p. 137), and rights for transgender individuals are most often limited…”

Unfortunately, so many Transsexual individuals feel they are in the closet and not able to share their inner most self with newly found friends or potential love interests. This is a frustrating and a rocky road as their body progressively matches their mind with the proper surgeries and hormones. The passage into their gender as they integrate themselves into society as their innate sex is not one that is taken lightly, but destined.

Furthermore, discrimination is prevalent regardless of where one lives and unfortunately, most states do not have laws implemented to protect the Transgender individual. In my eyes, they are the victims with no legal backing when it comes to divorce, child custody or even employment possibilities. It is common knowledge that in thirty eight states a Transgender could be fired solely based on a label, a way of life…the only life they knew.

Bottom line, a Transgender does not wake up one morning and say, “I think I’ll be a Transgender today.”

Think of it as someone deciding; today is the day, “I am going to be heterosexual.”

 Nor would anyone place themselves intentionally in society with this gender disorder based on such negative undertones associated with our communities. It is unfortunate that we live in a time when acceptance and tolerance are considered taboo. What is needed is a push beyond the comfort zone…personally speaking. With an open mind, the turmoil of societal and cultural dynamics will see the new boundaries that need to be intersected. The time has come to take off the blinders and see the world through a new lens of diversity, don’t you agree?

Reference

Riley, E. A. & Wong, W. K. T. & Sitharthan, G. (2011). Counseling Support for the Forgotten Transgender Community. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 23. 395–410. Retrieved January 24, 2012, from http://www.peoplesmart.net.au/Riley%202011%20UoS%20Counseling%20support%20for%20the%20forgotten%20TG%20community%20Riley%202011.pdf

We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.   Leave a comment


I wrote this speech for Margaret Cho when I attended a speechwriting course in April 2011. In theory, MC asked me to write a speech for her capturing her voice. I hope I did! Thank you to all my resources.

Introduction for Margaret Cho

I don’t think I, Danelle
could ever
give a proper introduction
for this woman.
She is a beautiful,
drop dead diva, comedian,
actress,
lover of humanity,
I say that in the spiritual sense (Looks at Margaret)
sweetie
and political activist.
I give you my old,
old,
old friend,
M.C.

We are gathered here today
to bless these two in holy mat,
wait a second.
What the *Bleep*.
Hey, who wrote this *Bleep*?
Sounds like I’m marrying a couple.
Do you lesbian number one
take lesbian number two
to have
and to hold,
blah,
blah,
blah.
Ok, sorry wrong speech.
*Bleep*.
I hope my dog didn’t eat (Shuffle papers, whispers)
my *Bleep* speech again.
Oh, wait!
I Got it!
Do over.
Let’s try this one on for size shall we.

Good morning,
What a great honor for me and thank you for joining us at the GLBT History Museum. On this bright and sunny morning we are here to dedicate the First GLBT History Museum’s Permanent exhibit of Queers in the United States on this day, April 17, 2011.

The GLBT History Museum’s presentation will incorporate
a gallery specifically on the Queer population
and its history.
That’s right.
We have history!
The museum will feature
two debut exhibitions.
In the main gallery,
you will find Our Vast Queer Past
Celebrating San Francisco’s
GLBT History.
Curated by historians
Gerard Koskovich,
Don Romesburg and
Amy Sueyoshi.
In the front gallery,
you’ll find great collections
of the GLBT Historical Society’s
Archive.

We are here to honor our community
and the GLBT Historical Society’s 25th anniversary,
the curators of Our Vast Queer Past
who burrowed into every corner
of the society’s extraordinary archives.
We are here to show respect
and acceptance as we dedicate
this section of this museum as our very own.
It is a commemorative event
not only to Queers, (Point to audience)
straights,
lesbians,
bisexuals,
gays,
transgenders
and those questioning.
It is for everyone.
Did I forget anybody?
Anywayyyy.
For those who don’t know me,
hello bitches.
I’m Margaret Cho,
nice to meet’cha.

I am the Korean American fag-hag, (Point to self)
girl comic,
trash talker
and I am a biological female.
In layman’s terms
I was born a girl.
I’ll let you in on a little secret,
I am
and always will be
in love with men,
women or whatever.
It’s not what’s between a person legs
that matters to me.
That’s how I got the label queer.
After having gay boyfriends for many years (Slow down)
finally I have a straight husband,
boyfriend
and lover all in one.
After having lesbian girlfriends
and lovers thrown in the mix,
I am Queer.
I’m not a lesbian anymore.
Which is a shame.
Because I am soooo good at softball. (Pause)

Fran Lebowitz once said,
“Girls who put out are tramps.
Girls who don’t are ladies.
This is,
however,
a rather archaic usage of the word.
Should one of you boys happen upon a girl
who doesn’t put out,
do not jump to the conclusion
that you have found a lady.
What you have probably found is a Lesbian.”
I am not the first avowed queer woman
and I won’t be the last.
I have always tried to make a difference
promoting equal rights for all,
regardless of sexual orientation
or identity.
This museum has joined me
in the fight.
Our struggles,
pain
and tears can be seen in the exhibition.
It begins with a rainbow view
of nearly a century of queer experiences
in the San Francisco Bay Area.
You will be consumed
by multiple stories,
sometimes interweaving,
sometimes isolated,
sometimes in battle.
What will you find? (Pause)
Motifs based on being human.
The first is the search for companionship
and pleasure.
The second is the struggle
for self-determination
and respect in an often hostile society.
The third is the value of individual
and collective expression.
And the fourth is the spirit,
ingenuity
and wit that have been keys to our survival.
But, really why are we here?
Society is slowly learning to be more diverse.
Back in the day,
you see I was a lesbian
and very proud.
I can remember the moments
of being a lesbian.

First, I can recall the memories
of a woman touching me,
sensually.
Second, the curves of a woman’s body,
her scent,
lips
and eyes would always beckon me.
Yes,
I do understand the meaning
of being a lesbian.
And third,
being with a woman
was one of the most spiritual experiences
that I had ever known.
As I close my eyes,
at this very moment,
I can envision the women
who were a part of my life.
Not only emotionally but,
physically,
mentally
and spiritually.
I can tell you that each woman had
their own inner essence.
Each touched my heart.
But,
with time comes change and well,
people change.
I was a lesbian.
And then bisexual
and now presently considered a queer.
I’ve have such a wealth of sexual experience.
I’m always going to be queer.
Why you ask?
Because, I follow my heart.
I married a bio man. (Speed up)
I kinda wanted to get married
and I looked at husbands
like I looked at tattoos.
Like I WANT one
but I can’t decide on WHAT,
and I don’t want to be STUCK with something that
I am going to grow to hate.
I have come to realize
that there is a difference between genders.
Straight men are so simple.
All they need are beer
and boobs
and Buffalo wings.

Oh yeah,
and straight men
don’t want to go shopping,
ever.
Men,
women,
transpeople,
bisexuals
etc. are all people to be respected,
just people,
just different.
Just as we each have
our own hearts,
minds
and souls.
Let’s talk about our dilemma
that has to do with diversity
in our world.
Do you think our society
is ready for the next gender identity?
I know we are willing to try.
To learn more about what queer really means.
Queer in today’s society
is considered similar to
the features of the GLBT group.
Yes
and
no but,
no cigar.
We are our own breed.
Once again,
society is slowly learning diversity.
We as a society (Look around)
need to open our minds
to the unknown.
To open our hearts.
To open our acceptance level.
We all want the same rights (Point up)
and freedoms.
Because we all know
that once we face the unknown,
it is not that scary anymore.
I was partially raised by my parents,
and partially grew up cradled
within the gay community
by a motley crew of gay men
and drag queens.

I grew up in the 80s
and 90s,
and I worked a lot
as an AIDS activist
when I was very young.
So it’s something
I always knew I would do.
It’s just inherent to who I am.
My identity is
rooted in my activism.
Y’know,
I’m queer,
I’m a woman of color
and I’m very progressive politically.
I hope to one day
leave my mark on this world,
we call home.
Today marks a day for learning. (Slow down)
Learning from the past
that will give us strength
for our future battles.
As we look at the past within these walls,
it reminds us we still have far to go.

Presently, legislation is pending
in both the House
and Senate
for our community.
Gays and lesbians
have been struck hard
and need Congress
to Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act,
Respect for Marriage Act H.R. 3567
which denies legally married lesbian
and gay couples
more than 1,000 federal protections.
These are basic protections
such as access to Social Security benefits
and the right to care for an ailing spouse
under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
With six states
either providing
or soon to provide marriage benefits
to same-sex couples,
it’s time for Congress
to repeal DOMA.
To treat all married couples equally.

D.O.M.A.,
which was signed into law
by former President Bill Clinton in 1996
has two key components
against the GLBT community.
Section 2 stipulates
that no state need recognize
legal civil marriages
between persons of the same sex.
Even if the marriage was recognized
in another state.
Section 3 prohibits
the federal government
from recognizing same-sex marriages
for any purpose.
Excluding these couples
from all federal benefits and protections.
Whether granted by statue,
regulation
or sub-regulatory decision.
It effectively bars federal benefits
from flowing to same-sex couples
in state recognized unions.
These are unequal
and unfair laws.
We all deserve the same rights
don’t we?
As the GLBT community
struggles it also strengthens.
As gay and lesbians are fighting
for their rights,
we as queer individuals fight for ours.
Their fights are our fights.
If you are a woman,
if you are a person of color,
if you are gay,
lesbian,
bisexual,
transgender,
if you are a person of size,
if you are person of intelligence,
if you are a person of integrity,
then you are considered
a minority in this world.
As we come together today
as a united front,
we will experience life
as never before seen.

With all my heart,
please join me
with great pleasure
in opening the doors.
The doors of enlightenment
for all the world to see.
A queer world.
My world.
Our world.
This exhibit reminds us all
that just because you are blind,
and unable to see my beauty
doesn’t mean it does not exist.
I want each of you to remember these words. Love is the big booming beat which covers up the noise of hate.
Thank you all for making history with me. (Put hands together and bow).

Jack Welch’s Acceptance Speech ~ The Boundaryless Behavior of a Company   4 comments


I wrote this speech for Jack Welch when I attended a speechwriting course. In class theory, I was asked to write a speech for him capturing his voice. I hope I did! Thank you to all my resources.

                  

Speaker: Jack Welch

Introduction for Jack Welch

When I was asked to introduce

The Leader of The Century for 2011

my first question was,

“Is it going to be the creative,

experimental risk taker,

Richard Branson

or maybe the charismatic,

domineering battler Lee Iacocca?

Wrong on both counts.

The voice on the other end of the phone said,

“No just the ruthless pursuer of performance,

Jack Welch.

I almost dropped the receiver.  

I have followed his leadership capabilities

through the years.

Jack Welch has been a true friend

and mentor.

He is the only person

I know who can look at a company

and draw from his experiences

to create a new culture within an organization.

He is the most studied CEO of the 20th century.

Jack Welch began his forty one year career

with the General Electric Company in 1960,

and in 1981 became the company’s eighth chairman

and CEO.  

Fortune named him

“Manager of the century,”

and the Financial Times named him

one of the three most admired business leaders

in the world.

It is my great pleasure

to introduce The Leader of The Century for 2011,

Jack Welch. 

What an honor and distinction to be The Leader of the Century for 2011. 

Thank you 

and good afternoon.

Why are we here?

The Leaders of the Century Award Committee’s

importance brings clarity to those who are considered

a leader of their times

and why they were nominated for the award.

These twelve men and woman congregated

to determine out of thirty nominations

who would be The Leader of The Century.

Their task was not an easy one.

Each candidate had years of experience to explore.  

Knowing the importance of examining their actions

and the impact they made. 

In my opinion,

business is about people.

At the end of the day,

people are what matter.

In life there are leaders and followers.

Through my life I have mastered leadership skills,

learning that without trust,

you have nothing.

The award committee has chosen me

as a reflection of my leadership

and abilities.

I am deeply moved. 

I share this award

with all who worked with me.

Distinguished Leaders of the Century Award Committee,

esteemed Executive Leaders,

Board of Directors,

GE employees,

and my dear family,

Thank you. (Pause)

Thank you for seeing my visions.

Thank you for supporting my leadership.

Being the CEO from 1981 – 2001 had been a great honor.

The fundamental style of working with others for me

was primarily to create an organizational learning culture.

Risk was rewarded to the employees

and for attaining their goals.

This was accomplished by implementing changes

in the organizational mission,

strategy

and structure through focusing on qualities

such as vision,

shared values,

ideas,

and relationship building.

While enhancing the organizational culture

of General Electric,

I incorporated personal identification

between the employees and myself.

I defined shared beliefs reflecting important

and essential issues faced by

members of the group.

Empowering the employees to perform

beyond their expectations.

I stimulated intelligence within the workforce.

I have been told (Slow down)

that I depicted

leadership characteristics

as a CEO by first,

identifying my vision to the team.

Second,

setting examples by leading by example.

Third,

communicating a common goal.

Fourth,

placing high performance values on each member of the group. 

And last but,

not least fifth,

respect for employees

and explaining that each position within the organization

has room for improvement,

if they reflect on increasing performance.

How can we get less formal?

Not only was the changing of the reward system important

for implementation of the new goals,

but,

I had also brought an air of informality to the company.

From the beginning,

I requested everyone to call me Jack.

My father was Mr. Welch, not me. (Pause)

When people voice their ideas,

the corporation gets less formal.

I don’t wear ties to work

and I have been known

to hold informal meetings

and encourage everyone to lighten up.

Informality inspires people to have more ideas

and it is one of the keys to GE’s success.

My vision incorporated the development of employees,

clientele,

as well as their suppliers.

I communicated with individuals

on a consistent basis

and at times with hand written notes. 

To increase pride,

motivation

and to give everyone a sense of value

resulting in building an efficient workplace.

I believe that our relationship was built on trust,

honesty,

interpersonal skills,

and loyalty

towards my employees and coworkers.

I motivated them

with my vision

and communication.

But, how can we immerse ourselves

in learning you ask?  

My vision and desire

to transform GE into a learning organization

not only helped to educate the employees but,

expanded this philosophy inside

as well as outside the organization.

It empowered all who were associated

with this company. (Pause)

To encourage the company to lead.

You and I together found a way to lead.

I launched a program for mentoring.

The mentoring and coaching programs

for the employees

proceeded to gear us towards personal development

within the company.

Every manager was a mentor.

I believe that a disparate conglomerate

was transformed into a global teaching organization.

I have to admit and be honest,

at this point and time.

I was afraid of the internet

because I couldn’t type.

I found the self-confidence to overcome my fear.

I found the self-confidence to go head on to make my dreams

for GE a reality.

I found the self-confidence to lead.

Incorporated within my philosophy was trustworthiness

which to me

was the key.

You must gain the trust of your people.  

If you don’t have their trust,

you’ll never be a great leader. 

This aspect was crucial to encourage the employees,

customers

and suppliers in order for them to trust

and accept the beliefs,

values

and new organizational goals to increase our productivity

and performance. 

In 1980,

the year before I became CEO,

GE recorded revenues of roughly $26.8 billion,

in 2000,

the year before I left,

they were nearly $130 billion.

The company went from a market value of $14 billion

to one of more than $410 billion

at the time of my retirement. (Point up)

Making it the most valuable

and largest company in the world

and I could not have done it without my coworkers,

employees

and management.

What sets GE apart from the rest?

It is our culture that used diversity as a boundless source (Speed up)

of learning opportunities.

It is our culture that used the foundation of understanding

the organization’s ability to learn

and act fast giving us a competitive edge.  

Warren Bennis believed that  

a new leader has to be able to change an organization

that is dreamless, soulless and visionless.

Someone’s got to make a wakeup call. (Look around)

I was that someone.

I then pose the age old question,

Are leaders born or made?

I can only speak for myself.

Through my struggles,

failures,

triumphs,

and other experiences

plus throwing in formal education,

I transformed into a leader.

GE’s leader.

I initiated the opening up of a new world

within the organization.

My vision was shared (Point towards audience)

and became our vision leading to future successes. 

My goal was to lead,

to create a vision and make people passionate

about their work.

By today’s ceremony,

I know I have succeeded.

But,

I could not have accomplished

all that I did without everyone’s support.

Throughout our history

each of our leaders

has had a restless drive for a better GE.

And a better world.

And each has extended the company’s tradition

of leadership development

by encouraging the ingenuity of the people around.

I am proud to be added to the list of these great men of GE,

Charles A. Coffin, President, 1892 – 1912 and Chairman, 1913 – 1922. E. W. Rice, President 1913 – 1922. Gerard Swope, President 1942 – 1945 and 

1922 –1940. Owen D. Young, Chairman 1942 – 1945, 1922 – 1940. Charles E. Wilson,  President, 1945 – 1950 and 1940 -1942. Ralph J. Coriner,

Chairman and CEO, 1958 – 1963 and President, 1950 – 1958. Philip D. Reed, Chairman, 1945 -1958 and 1940 -1942. Fred J. Borch, Chairman and CEO,

1967 – 1972 and President and CEO, 1963 – 1967. Gerald L. Phillippe, Chairman, 1963 – 1967 and President, 1961 -1963.

Reginald H. Jones, Chairman and CEO, 1972 – 1981.

And then there was me.

My second goal was to be a teacher in a sense.

As the company moved forward,

everyone had proven an increased awareness.

Of what was right.

Good,

important,

and even beautiful.

I had planted seeds

and watched them flourish.

I hope to have touched people’s lives

and elevated their needs for achievement

and self-actualization.

I ask you now,

what makes a great leader?

I believe that we need to do things

that build people’s self-confidence.

It’s all about praising others

and getting excited about their victories.

That’s what makes a great leader.

I personally got my first taste

of leadership

from the scrappy,

aggressive kids in the neighborhood

playing endless games and sports.

I learned to exercise leadership,

involve everyone

and to be flexible.

The GE of the future

will be based on the cherished values that drive us today,

mutual trust.

Our dream,

our plan,

was simple then

and it is up to you to carry the torch to future greatness.

Strive for self-confidence, Strive to learn and Strive for a better future. (Point to audience) 

Today, you bestowed upon me a title that will forever be close to my heart. As

we conclude this special occasion, a chance to glance back for a moment to see

the progression of GE, I have just six words to say. We’ve come a long way

baby! (Gesture thumbs up)

Thank you. 

Connecting Trauma To Learning   Leave a comment


 

When the learner feels safe, curiosity lives…

Is there any correlation connecting trauma that an individual has experienced and their capacity to learn while functioning effectively in today’s society?

In today’s society it is difficult for traumatized individuals to find a place where they feel secure, sheltered and protected. Dictionary.com (2012) definition of trauma is “A body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident. The condition produced by this; traumatism. An experience that produces psychological injury or pain. The psychological injury so caused.”

Traumatic events occur when there is bodily harm, emotional anguish, or impairment. It is an experience that is a threat to one’s safety or to the stability of one’s world. These types of disturbing events may involve: physical injury or illness, anxiety, fear, loss of trust, humiliation in childhood, violence, war, terrorism or a mass catastrophe. After a traumatic event, memories of the suffering can bring out feelings of vulnerability, fear, or a sense of reliving an incident over again called flashbacks.

Our world is filled with child cruelty, crime, interpersonal violent behaviors, sexual mistreatments, mental/physical abuse and war. A victim’s life is filled with the emotional aftermath and worries on a daily basis due to the potential of being harmed by another, whether it is a family member, a stranger or even reliving post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms of war. Not only does this affect the physical side of living but a person’s emotional and mental stability as well.

 Psychological trauma is a stressful disorder. It is a breakdown of the nervous system that contributes to mental, emotional and physical ailments including apprehension and depression. Emotional traumatizing events can take a severe toll on individuals who are involved even if the event did not cause physical injury. Numerous stress responses signal trauma in adults including hypersensitiveness, hyper-reactive conduct, hypervigilant actions and shutting down called “tuning out” behavior. Neural systems appear to trigger changes as an individual portrays a hypervigilant state of arousal and constant anxiety mode. Traumatized victims will have a hard time retaining information in a classroom setting due to the different aspects of the brain controlling its performance.

Fragmented attention (memory deficits) occurs when an individual’s memory of a traumatic incident becomes inaccessible in the unconscious which enables the anguish of that moment in time to be locked away in their mind. It is at this time that seclusion begins to exist in their body and mind. The next phase for a person is to experience missing the executive psychological process of thinking and reasoning. The extreme side of this condition is when there are identifiable time frames of dissociation, separating and zoning out. What appears to be learned in this condition is separated as grouping of the mental processes from the rest of the mind, causing them to lose their normal relationship. When disconnected, anything that is described behavior or knowledge acquired through training or experience rather than being instinctual remains constricted from the main cognizant mind that is capable of thinking, choosing, or perceiving.

 Several reactions may take place due to a feeling of being threatened. One type of effect on an individual is the fight-or-flight reaction due to the feeling of being in jeopardy by someone or something.  Also, in the beginning phase’s one response could be the alarm reaction which destroys a person’s academic inquisitiveness and puts a constraint on their learning capabilities. It is at this stage that the mind and body begin to journey towards the arousal continuum where individual functioning begins to change. Perry (2003) discusses this outcome by stating, “During the traumatic event, all aspects of individual functioning change – feeling, thinking, and behaving” (p.3). During this phase a person has reduced competency in the learning process and using the cognitive side of the brain.

Trauma can drastically hinder one’s learning potential as this anxiety can lead to a lifetime of constant mental learning impairments as well as emotional disorders including feelings of despair. Significant findings have proven that individuals suffering from any of these disturbances could actually have changes within the composition of their brain. The frontal cortex (where higher thinking capabilities occur) and the limbic system (where cognition and survival develop) unite causing functional irregularities. There are numerous cognitive symptoms of psychological trauma that develops in individuals reflecting their ability to learn. This leads to feelings of being distracted, trouble in making decisions, recollection lapses, a lack of ability to concentrate/focus, reduced retention as well as short/long term memory deficits.

In summation, to answer the question: Is there any correlation connecting trauma that an individual has experienced and their capacity to learn while functioning effectively in today’s society? After researching this issue, it is my opinion that the relationship between trauma and learning is significant since physical or psychological damage is a main contributor to learning deficits. Trauma and the adult learning process must be examined through the learner’s internal state of mind. To accomplish positive learning capabilities the educator needs to create and provide a safe, secure and trusting atmosphere in order for an individual to properly retain classroom information and to succeed academically to build a better life for themselves. Sandra Kerka (2002) states, “To overcome these constraints and to help learners regain control, connection, and meaning, educators might adopt a comprehensive, multifaceted approach that includes the following: a holistic perspective, creation of a safe learning environment…” To give the essential sense of feeling protected to traumatized victims means building their confidence to learn through fostering encouragement while being sensitive to their state of mind.

 Reference

Bruce D. Perry, B. D. (2003). Effects of traumatic events on children. Retrieved September 28, 2005, from http://www.mentalhealthconnection.org/pdfs/perry-handout effects-of-trauma.pdf

Dictionary.com. (2012). Retrieved January 22, 2012, from  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/trauma

Kerka, S. (2002). Trauma and Adult Learning. ERIC Digest, 239. Retrieved October 25,             2005, from http://calpro-online.org/eric/docgen.asp?tbl=digests&ID=124

Dr. Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences   35 comments


Multiple Intelligence was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of education at HarvardUniversity. According to Howard Gardner (2003), there are at least nine intelligences that all individuals posses through which we learn in today’s society. “Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences requires teachers to adjust their instructional strategies in order to meet students’ individual needs.” (p.115).

It suggests that the traditional perception of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited in its results regarding students. “Howard Gardner has questioned the idea that intelligence is a single entity, that it results from a single factor, and that it can be measured simply via IQ tests.”(Smith, 2002, para. 3). Apparently, the intelligences rarely operate independently and they complement each other as an individual begins to develop their skills or problem solving capabilities. These multiple intelligence theories challenge traditional beliefs in the fields of education and cognitive science. The nine types of intelligence are: Naturalist Intelligence to be nature smart, Musical Intelligence which is musical smart, Logical-Mathematical Intelligence meaning number/reasoning smart, Existential Intelligence suggesting fundamental questioning and pondering of existence,  Interpersonal Intelligence to be people smart, Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence meaning body smart, Linguistic Intelligence suggesting word smart, Intra-personal Intelligence which is self smart and Visual/Spatial Intelligence meaning picture smart.

After reviewing numerous articles written on the subject I was able to distinguish my learning abilities relating to four of the intelligences that were prevalent in terms of how they explained my abilities to learn regarding how the intelligence theory applies to my learning abilities.

The first of Garner’s Intelligence that became apparent was the Intra-personal Learner. This is the ability to understand oneself, recognize fears and motivations while realizing one’s feelings. It is described as having a successful working model of oneself and being able to use such information to control one’s life. It suggests that I learn best when working alone, dealing with individualized projects and functioning with high productivity due to a self paced instruction. It suggests pursuing interests and focusing on understanding oneself. There is a tendency of focusing inward regarding one’s feelings and dreams. Following my instincts and striving towards goals and interests. Individuals with intrapersonal intelligence are usually imaginative, original, patient, disciplined, motivated, and have a great deal of self-respect. Intra-personal intelligence is the capacity to understand oneself and one’s thoughts and feelings, and to use such knowledge in planning and directing one’s life. It involves not only an appreciation of the self, but also of the human condition. It is evident that I may be shy, very aware of my own feelings, considered a loner and self-motivated. As a child I have had strong intuitive feelings and a sense of inner wisdom.

The second Intelligence theory that describes my learning capability is the Naturalist learner. It is the ability to distinguish among living things such as animals and plants as well having the sensitivity to other aspects of the natural world. I have a genuine admiration of the aspects of nature and how they intertwine. This trait has been know to put the future of the world first and being concerned about how man could be destroying our planet for future generations. People with naturalistic intelligence often show expertise in the recognition and classification of plants and animals. As a child, I was unusually good at sorting and classifying rocks and shells which is an example of a naturalist characteristic. I would often benefit from learning outdoors, interacting with my surroundings and learning about how things work.

The third, Logical-Mathematical developed Intelligence became apparent to me as I read the descriptions in Garner’s articles. It is the capability to calculate, quantify, and carry out complete numerical operations. It symbolizes the ability to think logically, to recognize patterns as well as work with abstract concepts and to be a constant questioner. It enables me to distinguish relationships using sequential reasoning skills and inductive/deductive thinking patterns. As a young adult I was interested in patterns, mathematical relationships and fascinated with puzzles involving logic and reasoning abilities. As an adult, I am an author, an artist, accountant by trade and a numerologist on the side. Numerology is a hobby of mine, it entails studying the science of numbers.

The fourth Intelligence that I recognized as a developed learning ability is Visual/Spatial. Spatial intelligence is the capability to think in two and three dimensional ways. It includes external/internal imagery, artistic skills, and an active imagination. It enables me to perceive, to recreate, transform, or modify images to navigate oneself and objects through space in order to solve problems. People with spatial intelligence often are attracted to color and imagine the world differently. The role that spatial intelligence plays in the visual arts is evident since I am an artistically inclined in painting and sculpting. An artist’s style often depends on their ability to visualize and create from a blank canvas. Spatial thinkers “perceive the visual world accurately, to perform transformations and modifications upon one’s initial perceptions, and to be able to re-create aspects of one’s initial perceptions, even in the absence of relevant physical stimuli” (Gardner, 1983, p. 173).

Some characteristics that led me to believe that my learning includes Visual/Spatial intelligence are: I enjoy creating things, looking at photographs, visualizing and using my mind’s eye when it comes to colors and artwork. As a child, I would think in images and be able to locate missing objects due to visual recall. I would sketch and was fascinated by shapes, shadows, highlights and perspective drawing. I developed my learning in sensing changes, mastering puzzles/mazes and reading maps.

Howard Gardner’s Intelligence theory adds new depth to understanding the complicated and diverse dimensions of individual intelligence. This hypothesis has allowed me to view a new dimension of academic abilities on a deeper level with multiple perspectives. I have a heightened understanding of how I learn that will help me to improve my capabilities not only academically speaking, but also professionally in today’s complicated world.

References

Nolen, Jennifer L. (2003). Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom. Education. Fall2003. Vol. 124 Issue 1. p115-119. 5p. Retrieved May 23,

Smith, M. K. (2002) Howard Gardner and multiple intelligences. Encyclopedia of Informal Education. Retrieved May 25, 2007,  from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.html.

video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=l2QtSbP4FR