Jim Kent:

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Archive for October 26th, 2011

Wes and Jim dialogue on Steinbeck and the Occupy Wall Street phenomena

Posted by Jim on October 26, 2011

The following is an exchange between Wes Stillwagon and Jim Kent which is a continuation of my post yesterday under Deep Democracy.


Here’s a virtual toast to Garry Trudeau!

Relative to Tortilla Flat, I believe the first actual forming of a phalanx among the paisanos was inspired, clarified, and verbalized by Pilon. The group’s feeling that Danny, the apparent caretaker (my opinion) was spending too much energy and time at “Sweets” (with the Sweeping Machine) and did not have time or energy to be with them. “At first his friends ignored his absence, for it is the right of every man to have these little affairs. But as the weeks went on, and as a rather violent domestic life began to make Danny listless and pale, his friends became convinced that Sweets’ gratitude for the sweeping-machine was not to Danny’s best physical interests” From Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat. Their verbalized concern for Danny’s physical health was their logical rationalization for their call to action. Their actual value driven inspiration was that they were jealous of a situation that was holding Danny’s attention so long.* In judging group or team behavior, the logical rationalization and the value judgment are significant in analyzing group or team actions as they would require different responses.

The phalanx appeared at the group perception (value driven) of a problem that needed eliminating, “Wherefore the friends, in despair, organized a group, formed for and dedicated to her destruction.” (The objective).

Specifically, I believe the group was reacting to a vacuum created by the missing and beloved Caretaker Danny and the leader in this action was Pilon. I believe a similar reaction would have been witnessed on Cannery Row if Doc’s time and presence were dominated by Suzy. I suspect the leading role on Cannery Row in such a situation would have been filled by Fauna or Mac.

The phalanx (with the objective) was a complex of unique and to them, tacitly understood, individuals drawn together by forces in the collective unconscious (like opposite poles of magnets). It would be a big mistake to attempt to influence the illusionary mass or community. “Their campaign had called into play and taxed to the limit the pitiless logic of Pilon, the artistic ingenuousness of Pablo, and the gentleness and humanity of Jesus Maria Corcoran. Big Joe (the Portagee) had contributed nothing.” (Steinbeck) Does this not remind one of Jung’s functional types?

The OSW apparently has yet to realize this necessary quality of a successful phalanx or team effort and as a result we’ve see no tangible accomplishment beyond a show or theatrics.

The phalanx, if made up of individuals of higher adult maturity, has strength far beyond that of its apparent resources. Our society suffers tremendously by failing to realize the structure and dynamics of Steinbeck’s phalanx and Jung’s collective unconscious.

*This is, in my opinion, not unlike the feelings of the apostles, especially Peter, toward Mary Magdalene’s domination of the attention of Jesus”


Good insights and theory application Wes. So using the Danny analysis in the OWS movement to a Phalanx here is where I think we (they) are:

“But as the weeks went on, and as a rather violent domestic life began (the 99% of neglected citizens by the system) to make Danny listless and pale (our society before OWS–remember “where’s the anger”) , his friends (the occupiers with social networking at their finger tips) became convinced that Sweets’ gratitude for the sweeping-machine (Wall Street) was not to Danny’s best physical interests (our society and the 99%ers)” From Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat.

“……at the group perception (value driven) of a problem (OWS) that needed eliminating (the inequities of our system) , “Wherefore the friends, in despair, (occupiers of Wall Street and international movement) organized a group (not done yet–still in the self organizing stage–but coming), formed for and dedicated to her destruction (not decided yet-still time for reasonable equitable outcomes) (The objective).

Danny, Pilon and the boys would have never agreed to allow a “Super Committee of 12 to decide the fate of our society” not now, not ever. They were participating in, predicting and controlling their environment and would not tollerate giving their power away as this congress has done.

So among the phalanx of Steinbeck, Jungs functional types, Kent’s informal network archetypes, and Wes’s concept of the individual–we are in pretty good shape to understand this OWS phenomena in a manner that pundits cannot comprehend because they are trapped in the tapestry of the formal system of leaders, control, imposed goals, self-serving actions, and no sense of humor.

Of course from Steinbeck’s writings is where I first extracted the basic concepts of the Discovery Process—from the Moon is Down, Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday and Grapes of Wrath.

Well said Wes, how was my interpretation?? And a hardy toast to Jon Stewart who has the only real news on TV!!



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