Home Concepts Organizational Theory Journey to Irony II: The Lands of Gamma and Delta

Journey to Irony II: The Lands of Gamma and Delta

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Fortunately, I don’t have to arrive at a judgment about the credibility of a Polis right away. Perhaps, I can be invited to a Delta feast. As I leave the Polis, I find myself wandering through a cluster of somewhat disorganized streets. This reminds me of the insanely disruptive design of streets in Boston area communities: rotaries, random squares, quads and commons, old cow paths now paved over (that belong in quaint villages not major urban cities). As seems to be the case in Boston, the land of Delta offers a mixture of premodern and modern. Topographically, both Boston and Delta require multiple dimensions and substantial information to be properly mapped. They are both very complex. By comparison, the lands of Alpha, Beta and Gamma are much less complex.

While Alpha is mostly entrenched in a nostalgic premodern bliss, Delta seems to be embedded in a premodern community design that is realistic, appropriate and naturally emerging (like the converted cow paths in Boston). A vibrant and living premodernism exists everywhere in Delta – even in the premodern vision enacted in the Polis. There is certainly a profound difference between the ordered street grid and society of Beta and the dynamic and somewhat disordering dynamics and disordered street map of Delta. A similar difference exists between the deeply distrustful ambience of Gamma and the trust inherent in the interactions I have observed in the land of Delta.

I pause my analyses and judgments at this point. Am I kidding myself about Delta? After all, I am exhausted and hungry. I could believe anything. Perhaps, Delta (or at least my current physical and mental state in visiting Delta) doesn’t differ much from true-believing Beta. Am I just buying into another utopian dream and marching to a drum that leads initially to a palace but eventually to a dystopia of disillusionment and destruction? Is Richard Rorty’s (1989) utopia just as flawed or unrealistic? I am tasting some Hard Irony!

In order to escape a bit from my internal world of contradiction, I began hunting, as I have done in the other three lands, for movie theaters. I soon found one that was featuring a re-release of the movie, Norma Rae, and announcing an upcoming film festival (yes, another one), featuring the 1930s and 1940s “Capra-corn” movies of Frank Capra—beginning with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and finishing with the now-classic Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.

These films all have something to do with civic engagement and collective responsibility—fitting for a world of the Polis. Are they nothing more than propaganda pieces (such as those shown in both the United States and Germany during World War II)? Are the Capra movies no better than the marching bands of Beta? I seem to be caught up in my own contradictory thoughts and feelings about Delta. I am once again confronting Hard Irony.

I do notice that there is a second festival being offered for the “kids” at this theater. These matinee movies were identified as “ironic animations” – so I was curious about which films were included in this series. They were popular movies like Finding Nemo, Monsters, and Frozen. These are interesting animations that appeal to both children and adults (with interesting moments of double-entendre and indirect political commentary – hence the label “ironic”.) However, I would consider these to be examples of what I labeled “Fleeting” Irony in the first essay. These movies clearly differ from the early Disney creations (which are honored in the land of Alpha). The earlier Disney features certainly don’t qualify as Ironic (or even Fleeting Ironic) exemplars to be shown at this Delta animation festival.

While searching out the local movie theater, I notice something about the way people interact with one another on the streets of Delta. There seems to be a lot of congregating of people in not only the Delta parks, but also around fountains, benches, and small public gardens. Abstract sculptures are placed in beautifully landscaped beds of flowers and diverse ornamental trees. Both the abstraction and beauty are attracting attention and dialogue.

People are coming together to observe and comment Perhaps it is just because the weather is nice today in Delta, but there seems to be a pull toward congregation – what Robert Sommer (1969) calls a “sociopetal” social space that attracts and holds people in aggregation (while “sociofugal” space pushes people away from one another – the sort of space, culture and interpersonal dynamics we find in Alpha and Gamma). What about the sociopetal pull that is abundant in Beta? How does a Beta parade differ from a Delta Polis? As William Perry noted, commitment in relativism (Polis) looks a lot like dualism (Parade).

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