April 20th, 2004

mepublicenemy

Spontaneity

is a good thing... or is it?

I'm reading Erich Fromm's To Have Or To Be. The book has various points, but one point is to sing the praises of spontaneity, of "being in the moment" as we say in acting. The way he puts it forth reminds me more than a bit of Carl Rogers.

In both authors' work, spontaneity is associated with flexibility and championed over rigidity.

As soon as I hear the "flexibility is good" chant I get worried. Flexibility cannot always be a good thing. There are times when it is right and needful to take a stand on principle. In these cases, being firm is a virtue.

To take the metaphor seriously, consider a skyscraper. You do want some flexibility in it. I know the Hancock Center in Chicago is designed to sway in the wind a bit without breaking apart. But it's also obvious that you don't want a tall building to have the consistency of a rubber band. A tower must stand up and be counted.

Rhyme of the day:

Sometimes you have to stand firm.
You're a vertebrate, not a worm.