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  • 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 to

  • 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 useswhich 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 housebut 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 or she has already been described as being. In

  • 1956, 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

  • 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. 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

  • notes; the filing systems will be perfectnothing will get lost, overlooked, neglected

  • or mislaid; negotiations will take place in an atmosphere of impersonal wisdom. 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 Brazil 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 Niemeyerwith

  • a wry smile. Brazilians continue to wait for that day. And the finest buildings of Brasilia continue

  • to inspire. We need flattery because we so badly need to be guided to develop beyond

  • 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

  • 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 well 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.

Flattery has a bad name. It’s associated with saying something upbeat but untrue in

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The Importance of Flattery

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    韓澐 posted on 2017/06/07
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