KINDS OF POWER by James Hillman


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 Jungian analyst Hillman (coauthor, Freud's Own Cookbook, 1985, etc.) rambles on about a new, and hopefully healthier, paradigm of power for the business world. Hillman believes that business offers the closest thing our civilization has to a universal theology, and with that in mind he tries to destroy some old idols in the temple. In the first part of this book, he views two traditional notions of business health- -growth and efficiency--as limiting and even dangerous (Treblinka, he notes, resulted from the Nazis' push to kill with maximum efficiency). In contrast, he argues, the next century will need to stress service and maintenance, which place a premium on the personal dimension of life often devalued in the drive for growth and efficiency. Hillman then examines 20 different kinds of power, including prestige, exhibitionism, tyranny, concentration, authority, fearsomeness, purism, charisma, and subtle power. In the last section, he explores the power of myths on ideas, positing the existence of, and then characterizing, an armful of worldviews: the ``cyclical return'' of history; ``gloom and doom''; ``hopeful greening''; and ``apocalyptic catastrophe.'' Instead of dehumanizing control, he aims for ``maximizing through discretion, rather than direction.'' Well and good. The problem comes with his method of analysis, which is long on examining the etymology of words and the classical myths that illustrate forms of power, but is short on applying any of this to contemporary business. His tactic is ``to keep the ideas brief, quick, heated and scattered.'' The result is often psychobabble (``The intelligent exercise of power begins in the mind that has insight into the deeper structures of actions''). In his gnomic one-liners, Hillman comes across as part latter- day Emerson and part Sensitive New Age Guy, but the reader is likely to view the whole as flapdoodle.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1995
ISBN: 0-385-46964-0
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1995


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