MA conference kicks off with some ‘crisis navigation’

8:45 AM  Eric Liebregts guides us through the crisis of starting on a May Friday at this early hour with his talk “Nietzsche and Crisis Navigation.” EL provocatively suggests that we can glean from Nietzsche’s texts an alternative model of successful crisis navigators to the Napoleans, strong leaders who represent the eagles of the world: “‘Eagles dive straight and to the point.’ — Not the least sign of nobility of soul is the magnificent and proud stupidity with which it attacks –‘straight to the point'” (WP 950)

EL calls the alternative navigation style ‘the chickadee’, citing Vladek Spiegelman and Plenty Coups as exemplars: “‘Listen Plenty-Coups, said a voice. ‘In that tree is the lodge of the Chickadee.  He is least in strength but strongest of mind among his kind.  He is willing to work for wisdom.  The Chickadee-person is a good listener.  Nothing escapes his ears, which he has sharpened by constant use.  Whenever others are talking together of their successes and failures, there you will find the Chickadee-person listening to their words.  But in all his listening he tends to his own business.  He never intrudes, never speaks in strange company, and yet never misses a chance to learn from others.  He gains successes and avoids failure by learning how others succeeded or failed, and without great trouble to himself.” (Lear 71)

Sample of questions for EL from the audience:  Gary Foster suggests: Why not rather use these figures to challenge the narrowness of Nietzsche’s account of leadership, of crisis navigation?

Kathy Behrendt asks:  is a crisis navigator necessarily a leader?  Vladek was out for himself and his family, perhaps a few others, but did not style himself as a leader.

Jill Rusin asks:  What is the criterion of success for a Nietzschean crisis navigator?  Survival?  Is this what makes Plenty Coups more ‘successful’ than Sitting Bull? Is there no room for a Patrick Henry (“give me liberty or give me death”) prioritization of some other value over survival as a criterion of success?

EL, an apt crisis navigator, fields the barrage of questions at only 915 AM, and soon it is time for our next speaker…


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