All posts by jlrmaps

Aphorisms on Power by Earl Shorris

Reflections on power.

By Earl Shorris

Power is the central position; it is not the center.

Although power shifts, it does not change by degree. Power is or is not; it does not dawn, nor does it leave in a twilight.

Power is not an ability.

There is no essential difference between great power and small power; expansion is only a matter of accessories.

In the city, power walks; taxis are for those who meet the schedules of others.

Emptiness is a sign of power.

The powerful speak slowly, as if time were plentiful.

There are no draws in the games of power.

The surface of power is polished stone.

Power always has something of greater importance.

When a powerful man asks for something, he is always brought something superior: an urn for a cup, a couch for a chair.

The powerful know that complexity is the province of underlings.

Power is not in making; it is in having.

There is no power in a small room.

After he gained power, what had been seen as eccentricity appeared as wisdom.

A formula for power: Power equals the weakness of others times their number.

One loses the sense of power over others. To feel power it must be constantly increased.

A vision is powerful, unless it is understood.

The most powerful names in intellectual argument are those that are recognized but not known.

Power is gained by withholding.

Power articulates its desires.

Circuitousness is a better means for the powerful than confrontation, because it is more certain.

The powerful punish by disinterest.

Power shows intimacy as a reward.

Power enables one to break appointments.

Underlings speculate about the powerful; the powerful discuss underlings in full knowledge of the situation.

Power interrupts.

There is no better way to flaunt one’s power than to attempt to appear equal when dealing with the powerless.

To recognize virtue in an underling is an act of power.

The difference between a powerful man and a bully is the latter’s penchant for telephoning underlings at 4:30 on Friday afternoon.

The president of the company makes jokes about cheating on his expense account to an audience of men who fear they will be caught cheating on their expense accounts.

Power sits at another table.

A powerful person may choose to send another in his place. The acceptability of the substitute depends upon the power of the one who sent him.

Power thanks; nothing more clearly separates the powerful from the powerless than that graciousness.

Power does not kill; it permits suicide.

Power is conferred by association: the basking of underlings.

A powerful man said nothing, and all those in attendance knew exactly what he meant. Later, they could not agree on what they had heard.

People do things for the powerful; they do not wait to be asked.

In fiction the recourse of the powerless is murder; in life the recourse of the powerless is petty theft.

Those without power wait.

The powerful are made uneasy by deference, but they accept nothing less.

Power may be amused, but to be amusing is an admission of weakness.

Power is embarrassed by unsubtle flattery.

Hurried speech is a form of deference.

Power’s best decoration is a cultured assistant.

Death has no power; it is dying that we fear.

Envy is a form of obeisance.

The power of a man is determined by his ability to mask the power of those who dominate him.

Men abrogate their lives to their livelihoods.

Power is the first compromise of society.

Evil is ascribed to the powerful because they are unknown; it is the weapon used against them.

Stylishness, being an acquiescence, mitigates power.

Conspicuous power is vulnerable.

There is no power without arrogance, however subtle.

Clarity vitiates power.

To the powerful, art has no meaning, only uses.

The powerful man has no use for those immobilized by truth.

Ultimate power may be safely ignored.

Whenever it is universally known that power is the creation of its victims, the world trembles.

Love is not power; that may be as good a description of the human predicament as we are likely to get.

Jean-Louis Asks The Tribe: Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Chicken Crossing the Road
Chicken Crossing the Road — Image by © Corbis

GREG LINSTER – “It’s getting safely out of the way of my surfing and skiing.”

JOHN FAITHFUL HAMER – Link to Committing Sociology essay: “In Praise of Chickens Crossing the Street and Never Asking Why”

NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB – “Sophistry! I told the Chicken to fuck off and zapped him.”

WALTER MARSH – “It’s on its way to our Yoga center.”

AARON HASPEL – “We invent more stupid reasons for crossing the street than ever occurred to any chicken.”

DAVID BOXENHORN – Link to new study showing that chickens cross the street more freely in Israel than anywhere else in the world.

MARK ‘GURU’ BAKER – “It’s sprinting . . . to escape all the overweight losers and immigrants hooked on McNuggets.”

ELENI PANAGIOTARAKOU – “Does anyone have any scholarly articles about the treatment of chickens in Attic Greece?”

GRAEME BLAKE – “I coach chickens on how to get to the other side but being paleo, I also devour them when they get there.”

COREY LAW – “It wants to join our happy organic farm.”

PASCAL VENIER – Photo du poulet . . . in Manchester UK.

PIETRO BONAVITA – “Merda! Another migrant heading our way.”

VERGIL DEN – ”It wants to peck at my tree.”

MICHEL DAB – “Whatever the reason, Government should stay out of it.”

ANNA-LIISA AUNIO – “My students are trying to catch it for our rooftop garden.”

STANISLAV YURIN – Link to ‘Follow the Chicken’ search tool.

DANIELLE FARIBAULT – “I read the whole 4 volume history of chickens last night and it didn’t mention anything about that.”


JAFFER ALI – “What did you expect. It wants to get away from the murderous drone bombing.”

JED TROTT – “It’s running away from all my kids.”

NICHOLAS TEAGUE – “Don’t care. I’m fasting today.”

VINCE POMAL – “Don’t know but I follow chicuns around all the time to find out.”

LEEÇA ST AUBIN – Posted photo of chicken but the tongue is sticking out.

PAUL WEHAGE – Link to some aria.

BAN KANJ – Arabic comment in latin alphabet with reversed ‘3’’s and new profile pix of Ban with chicken.

AARON ELLIOTT – “I have a great recipe for chicken.”

JEAN-LOUIS: Cartoon of old guy ranting: ‘I’ve been seeing chickens crossing the streets since I was a kid. And nobody had fucking opinions about it before Social Media.”

—Jean-Louis Rheault

On Friendship

“In my entire life I have not had as much pleasure as through our friendship during this year, not to speak of what I have learnt from you. When I hear of your studies, my mouth waters with the anticipation of your company; we have been created for an understanding of one another.”—Friedrich Nietzsche to Paul Rée (November 19, 1877)

11707995_10153018725007683_369736383443763111_oI once heard that in Love, both stare at each other while in Friendship both stare in the same direction. It is indeed one of the great pleasures of life when we share these intense moments of equally felt discovery, recognition, amazement, outrage, confirmation, memories or understanding with a friend about something outside of ourselves.

There are two very different dimensions however to Friendship. The first, to which I alluded to above, is the more superficial self-serving and somewhat hedonistic one that brings much of life’s pleasure and benefits. In fact, I can’t think of anything that is a more reliable source of Joy.

The other is obligation, deeper and mostly painful and costly. It is the duty to listen to the friend that is depressed or bitter, to visit the sick and shell out for the broke. There is no personal let alone pleasurable benefits to one’s self in this dimension of friendship. To help out friends—whose troubles are often self-inflicted and chronic—is usually viewed with suspicion by spouses and family, rarely reciprocated and generally quickly forgotten—even sometimes secretly resented—by the recipients.

Those who view friendship through some kind of quid pro quo cost-benefit analysis are correct in their calculation that there is no return from such investments, only costs. And when you are in need yourself, those who help will rarely be those you have helped. It is done because and only because it needs to be done. We all like to see ourselves as ones who will help a friend if needed, but as if by some kind of Calvinistic predestination, you are either a person that does or does not.

I do not see friendship with reciprocal benefits—those that lead to a good laugh or those moments when you both go “WOW!” or cooperate on an accomplishment as silly as getting drunk—as something shallow or phony. All to the contrary, I LOVE those moments in friendship! Even if they may be self-serving and short-lived, those are the moments I treasure, the moments I can’t get enough of.

Still, every now and then we are presented with a situation of a person in need. That person may not be that close. They may be undeserving. They might even be a total asshole. But this person is in dire need of a friend. It’s going to be a one-way street. They require a serious expenditure of energy with no return benefit, maybe not even recognition or gratitude. Something other and unfathomable can kick in and compel you to act even though it is highly unpleasant and perhaps even detrimental to you.

You either know this situation well or you don’t; and, chances are, if you do, it’s probably been familiar to you all your life.

—Jean-Louis Rheault


Tales-.watchMeasurements of time and space are now globalized standards. Most of us have no problem with this because we’re sons and daughters of modernity, raised to believe that beauty is subjective and measurement is objective. In fact, the inverse is often true: our experience of distances and time is far more subjective than we think, while our experience of beauty and truth is far more universal than we suspect.

Somewhere in Africa (c. 1970):

A young man from an African village where his father was chief was sent to France for a formal western education. He studied surveying and mapping and eventually went to work for the UN. One day, he proudly returned to his village to show the mapping survey he had overseen and published for his native area.Upon seeing his work, his father showed clear disappointment. His map he said, was entirely wrong.
-“How can that be,” asked the son.
-“It’s obvious,” said the chief. “See this road here. It is uphill and difficult, it takes twice as long to travel as this other road you show here and your map says they are the same.”
In scale reality, both roads were the same metric distance but the father could not conceive distance being disconnected from travel time. Moreover the map was ugly. It made their beautiful land look like a colourless mass of squiggly worms.

10365367_658113510909327_3949604915252783233_oTown of Granby, Quebec 2005:

The zoo hired me to do their map. Visitors had complained about their old maps and the complaints grew when they made more an architecturally more precise update. I told them that when people visit a zoo, they come to see the animals, period. And they have a preconceived notion of a visual experience not space. My map focused on attractive illustrations of the animals (instead of symbols) drawn at least five times larger than scale. Also the head of each animal was drawn nearly twice as big than their actual proportions. Why bigger heads? Use your index and thumb to measure the width of your own face right now, you will be shocked how tiny your face is in measured space. The map also totally ignored distances between the exhibits and only depicted their relative positions from each other. The map was a big hit. People enjoyed using it to get around. Further proof came when the parking lot litter of discarded maps was greatly reduced. People kept them as souvenirs:

For more maps, see “JLR Maps” on Facebook

This shows how a universal appreciation of the beauty of animals is far more dominant in orientation than the subjective perceived number of meters between A and B. This is such an obvious reality to all humans when you point it out yet often academically trained mapmakers and many other data-driven people have trouble grasping this.
As my friend Aaron Elliot aptly put it: “We are evolved to visually process our local line of sight rather than yelling at people for not adapting their minds to the conventions of the (modern) mapmakers.”
Getting yelled at for not adapting to the conventions of information gatherers is a good metaphor for the discomfort we feel with the increasing demands of standardized tests, customer surveys, opinion polls, medical/therapeutic questionnaires, CV’s, as well as all electronic and Social Media formats – a few of many domains where we are asked to conform to a scale that can easily be measured and processed by the numerous people making disconnected data-maps of our realities.

—Jean-Louis Rheault