They became part of our everyday language…descriptions like ‘the Right Stuff’ and ‘Masters of the Universe’.

Tom Wolfe is being remembered and rediscovered today.

While you are hunting out your old copy of “Bonfire of The Vanities’, or ‘A Man in Full’, or checking out the ’83 film of ‘The Right Stuff’- 3 quotes from his work that seem for me to sting, wasp-like, with relevance every day.

*In ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’, (’68) Kelsey says ‘You’re either on the bus of off the bus’.

I keep hearing this phrase repeated in workshops and Leadership Training sessions. But I hear it used as a shorthand description of the degree to which someone’s staff or team is carrying out his /her plans; whether they are …obedient foot soldiers, or not.

The book was all about – hippies. And didn’t mean this at ALL.

Much more delightfully, it meant were you part of the group consciousness or not? Were you tuned in?

And I can’t think of a single culture I have worked with that couldn’t be made a little more enjoyable with a tiny splash of hippy consciousness raising.

*In ‘The Painted Word’ a ’75 book on Art Criticism, Tom Wolfe let rip. ‘Frankly, these days, without a theory to go with it, I can’t see a painting’ was Wolfe’s summary of a Modern Art Critic’s position. Wolfe explored the idea that Artists had become so influenced by critics and developed / accepted taste and standards, that their very creativity might now be questioned as being all about markets and approval.

Does that ring a bell?

I hear teams generate lovely ‘small’ improvements and ideas only to find them rejected by seniors who have completely lost the ability to create and experiment, and can only evaluate against visibility and acceptance amongst their seniors.

*Again, from T.E.K-A.A.T. ’68, ‘Everybody, everybody everywhere has his own movie going, his own scenario, and everybody is acting his movie out like mad, only most people don’t know that is what they’re trapped by, their little script’ is often quoted. And loved.

In the book, Kelsey has just been told about a chum who’s been busted by the cops for drugs, and then unfairly beaten up. As the waves of sympathy flow from everyone, Kelsey cries ‘..Right! Right!- but that’s in his movie!’

If he’d changed his script, couldn’t the guy have avoided the beating?

This little wasp stings everyday: the script can be changed.

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