thing wrong with me. I was trying to show up everybody else. Actually, I had already begun to wonder what was wrong with me, because everyone else was moving ahead by working a lot less, though no one in particular found any oil. Maybe my supervisor felt threatened himself because he had gotten ahead very nicely too without finding any oil at all. But perhaps I do him an injustice; as I said, there wasn’t much to recommend me socially, and I was likely to become angry if unfairly treated; I expected my work to produce its rewards; and I didn’t even know what alcoholics were until I found them in Standardoil. Lots of social things I didn’t know. Once, in private, another supervisor introduced a conversation about gay people and drew a blank, and he was annoyed with me ever after. But I stayed around, because by this time I found that the Corporation Dream could also turn MP On when the other wore thin. Security and the long pull, and your benefits multiplying, and its working out in the end and all that. So when I finally quit after eight years and got back only my compulsory savings and six percent, I was a little surprised. I retaliated by announcing the Law of Residual Mediocrity, which I had discovered all by myself, that in oil companies the able leave, the mediocre stay and stay, and the evaporation over many cycles leaves a level of ability which sinks lower and lower. I beat Parkinson to that one. I went to the Harvard Business School to have the Dream interpreted by men who understood it. But one day in Administrative Practices they distributed a nicely done code of ideal personnel management contributed by my old company, and I dug in my heels. No one could argue with the instruction of financial and accounting principles, but if the professors knew anything about people at first hand, this was hard to tell from their classroom performance. People were mainly points on the blackboard which always occurred in groups, and the dozens of lines connecting like wiring diagrams. The object of the chart was to predict the behavior of any one point from the snarl of lines by which it was imprisoned. Intuitive reactions concerning individuals were not permissible. The case one day concerned a valuable foreman who was apparently held well in hand by his company’s material rewards. One day he had packed up without a word and left for California with his silver foxes and his family. I had cited evidence that material rewards alone had not satisfied the foreman and that his action said to the system: “Piss on you!” “But Mr. Di-Gi-amhattista,” the instructor shouted, redfaced and pounding one hand in another, “this man raised silver foxes!” Next midterm my grade in Ad Prac dropped sharply. The Harvard Business School is a place to bring either delight or dismay to the heart; it depends on the class to which you belong. It prides itself on turning no one away because he lacks only money, and the promise is well kept, yet its huge parking lot is full of expensive cars. Its students are a collection of the famous corporate names of America, and their judgment the fairest and most discerning I have ever known ; yet they fail of what they could be because life has been too good to them. The place gives the lie to the notion \(or the wastrelsthey work as hard as any; they are more efficient because business is in their blood and wealth gives them good spirits. It is true that their ignorance of history is frightening, except that a course of apologetics called Business History is taught them ; but on the other hand, within S. few years most of them will be making American history, which is mostly business history anyway. The course in federal taxation made me understand for the first time, at 33, what the capital society really meant: To those that have more shall be given. Courses in marketing demonstrated the scientific exploitation of those who haven’t anything except desire and only produce and consume. Present-value calculations, on which we spent so many hours, were only the theory of interest played perversely upsidedown in order to discount the value of what those who could buy wanted from those who had to sell. Through them all ran extensions of the great fissures which are breaking up the base of American society: the impassable ‘gulf of feeling between rich and poor: “Every rich man is an abnormal being. . . . Look: does a rich man know what life is? Does he keep himself in touch with the raw realities of life? Does he feel in his face the stinging breath of poverty? the smell of the bread that he must earn? of the earth that he must dig? Can he understand can he even seepeople and things as they are?” These lines from Jean-Christophe would have struck into dumb silence any of the normally turbulent classes. Not that a few were lacking who understood the truth of themthat was not the point. Rather, the prevailing mores stated tacitly that this subject was under taboo; its very mention would have been a direct threat to the security of those assembled, and therefore unforgivable. There was another subject which was too obviously avoided even when it lay directly in the way. Did an American remain fully a citizen within a corporation? Did the guarantees of personal rights and decencies bestowed by the society outside have any relevance within? No one dared make comparisons. Only once did I observe the taboo violated. An unfortunate French student, more libertarian than the rest, but less able to sense tacit subtleties in English, said it. He produced an incredulous,’fearful silence as though a man had just been killed in our presence. As for myself, I refused for a long time to believe what I had seen and listened to for two years; my faith in the Dream was too strong. It took me several years of reflection to conclude that all the high priesthood had shown me was the American Dream melted down and recast into corporate symbols. That was all the interpretation I found. In its wisdom the Business School pro vided. however, a prescribed area for the exercise of human weakness in rebellion. These were several courses devoted to new and small businessesattended too avidly, I thought, by those who had Father waiting impatiently at the head of his large corporation. But the rebellion went only so far. When either Father or Proctor and Gamble appeared on campus, the late rebels dressed all alike in dark Ivy League suits and were docilely led away. I NEVER TOOK any of the courses in new enterprises, so perhaps it was foreseeable that when I received my M.B.A. in 1959, I returned to Midland and opened an office as a consulting geologist. For the first few months I concealed my home address even from my friends because, at the price I could pay, I was but a thin wall removed from the hot-pillow trade. While it was evident that the number of consultants had risen sharply in my absence, a large consulting contract raised my hopes. One day I heard one architect tell another outside an elevator, “This town has more consultants than hairdressers.” While this lay near the truth, I didn’t like to hear it. From the end of World War II up to 1957, when I had quit Standardoil, the domestic oil business had grown at an unprecedented rate, with no limit in sight. The number of geologists, geophysicists, and petroleum and chemical engineers employed by the industry, very largely in large corporations, grew proportionally. Among geologists alone, the increase is measurable by the rise in membership of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists from 4,676 in 1946 to 13,434 in 1957. Company staffs of professional people became swollen beyond the ability of even July 7, 1967 9 MARTIN ELFANT Sun Life of Canada 1001 Century Building Houston, Texas CA 4-0686 ,##* r 01 z’ Slice 1866 The Place in Austin GOOD FOOD GOOD BEER 1607 San Jacinto GR 7-4171
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