Flattery has a bad name, It’s associated with
saying something upbeat but untrue in
order to hoodwink its unsuspecting target for low personal gain.
In Aesop’s famous fable,
The Fox and the Crow,
an ugly crow has found a piece of cheese
and retired a branch to eat it.
A sly fox, wanting it for himself,
flatters the crow,
calling it beautiful and
wondering whether its voice will
be as sweet as its appearance.
The crow lets out a horrific screeching sound
and the cheese drops straight into the fox’s gaping expectant mocking jaw.
But there’s another form of flattery
with more valuable and ethical ambitions.
Parents of small children invariably discover its uses
– which deserve to be better known and practiced around all age groups.
Let’s imagine that a child isn’t
yet entirely kind to their brother,
or good at drawing, or a perfect cook
or helpful around the house,
but the parent declares that they are
so as to encourage and
make more concrete what is as yet only tentative and fragile in their ambivalent nature.
The child is being helped to end up as some of the things he has already been described as being.
巴西建筑师Oscar Niemeyer 受邀
the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer was invited
to create a new capital city for his nation: Brasilia.
Brazil is a country of
frenetic economic activity, of rainforest
亚马逊部落 平民窟棚户区位于其中 沙滩海滨众多 足球运动繁荣
and Amazonian villages, favelas, soccer, beaches and
intense disagreement about political priorities…
none of which is apparent from contemplation of the beautiful
serene, futuristic rational architecture of Brasilia.
这些建筑的含义是 有朝一日 巴西这个地方
One day, the buildings propose, Brazil will be a place
where rationality is powerful;
where order and harmony reign;
where elegance is normal.
There will be no more corruption or chaos.
In offices, efficient secretaries will type up judicious briefing
文件系统会变得很完美 没有文件会被丢失 忽视 或放错
notes; the filing systems will be perfect – nothing will get lost, overlooked, neglected or mislaid;
the country will be perfectly managed.
Oscar Niemeyer’s capital is an essay in flattery.
It hints that certain desirable qualities
which are as yet only very latent in Brasil could one day be central
to the country and its governing class. Shortly after the capital buildings were completed,
a journalist asked Niemeyer why he had designed a capital that was so dramatically unlike
the country it was meant to represent. ‘It won’t be one day,’ said Niemeyer – with
a wry smile. Brazilians continue to wait. And the finest buildings of Brasilia continue
我们需要奉承 是因为我们迫切地需要被引导 进而让我们在现在的基础上
to inspire. We need flattery because we so badly need to be guided to develop beyond
取得更好更长远的发展 我们需要他人的信任 进而在改革与发展中
what we are right now. We need other people’s belief in us to bolster our capacities for
reform and growth. We need a chance to grow into the person we have flatteringly been
described as already being. Consider a painting by Velázquez, The Surrender of Breda. There’s
西班牙与荷兰曾经发生过一场战役 西班牙取得了胜利 这幅画作
been a battle between Spain and the Netherlands. Spain has won. The picture shows the Spanish
general, Spinola receiving the key to the city of Breda from the representative of the
defeated Dutch forces, Justin of Nassau. What’s striking is how cordial everything is. Historians
report that both sides behaved extremely well. There was no recrimination or wanton bloodshed.
The painting is a memorial to unusually noble conduct. But it’s not a comprehensive or
accurate account of war or sieges; just as Brasilia is not a completely accurate presentation
of what Brazil is like. Instead, each of these works presents an ideal in the hope of generating
a subsequent reality. We should learn to be gentler on flattery and the energy it can
lend us to move towards greater generosity, intelligence and wisdom. We should use its
benign power in order to bring about a world where we’ll more often be able simply to
praise one another, and no longer merely just to flatter.
We believe in making the world a more emotionally intelligent place
and to that end we have now also published some extraordinary books.
As well as other merchandise that reinforces some of the other themes illustrated in our videos.
Please click on the link below to see more.