Steven Hadley is on the board of the AMA. Here he reflects on joining the Temple of Russell …
So now Russell Willis Taylor joins Diane Ragsdale on the (not very long at all but still quite significant) list of Brilliant American Women I Wish Were My Boss. The list, a relatively new subset of the (slightly longer and no less significant) list of Brilliant Americans I Wish Were My Boss/Parents/Uncle/Friend which includes such luminaries as Alan Alda’s character in M*A*S*H, Michael Stipe, David Byrne (though he’s actually Scottish) and Mark Rothko, is filling me with excitement.
Every now and again in life, both in our careers and personal lives, we are privy to an experience which shows us that there is a better/newer/higher way of seeing, thinking and being. Things are explained to us in ways that bring enlightenment, perspective and understanding. Since joining the Temple of Russell, all has been revealed to me as it really is. I must admit I did have a slight wobble when filling in the form to give 50% of monthly salary to the temple. But truth can come at a high price, and, as Socrates had it, the unexamined life is not worth living. The fact that the other 50% of my salary goes to the Temple of Diane leaves me both whole and broke at the same time. Irony indeed.
Anyway, Russell brought something to the conference that few others, if any, did. And that, she will no doubt thank me for saying, is something that comes with age. She had seen the wheel turn before and she implicitly understood, as did Foucault (to whom I mistakenly attribute this on a regular basis) that it is the vanity of every age to consider itself in crisis. If history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, the only way to stay sane when working in the arts is to develop a sense of humour. Russell was generous, wise and funny whilst also being sharp, cutting and intelligent. Can you tell that I liked her?
As John Brunner wrote in Stand on Zanzibar (1968), a book I’ve never read but stumbled across on Wikipedia, Hegel says that all we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history. I know people who can’t even learn from what happened this morning. Hegel must have been taking the long view. So was Russell.
[The video from Grand Rapids that Russell referred to in her keynote is here for your enjoyment, Ed]