It was the 75th anniversary of the publication of ‘Le Petit Prince’ earlier this year.
There have been exhibitions, plays, musings and new stories about the author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and how this most-translated and loved book came to be created.
Is this why one or two of the strange characters whom the Prince meets in the story seem to be popping up in everyday life?
The Prince’s home planet is the Asteroid B612 (many connections with Saint-Exupéry’s own flying record and ‘planes), and he meets six strange inhabitants of other asteroid/planets as he travels to Earth.
I keep seeing the Businessman and the Geographer in meetings.
All 6 visited characters in the story show us one dimension or another of our human oddities, but these two do seem unusually prevalent in business right now.
You will recall that the Geographer was waiting constantly for explorers to tell him about the lands he is recording. He would never travel or visit himself: he is obsessed by the distinction between his role and the role of others. He is completely trapped by his own inflexible definitions.
The Businessman is devoted to measurement and accuracy: he continually counts the stars and assigns them to his own accounts in what is an imaginary bank. It doesn’t occur to him of course to even look at the stars. The counting and amassing is the thing.
The language we’re all using at the minute often includes ‘tightening’, and ‘battening down’.
It is completely understandable that our concerns seem to narrow when the world around us is so uncertain. As is trying to define our responsibilities more tightly to help us feel in control.
But it doesn’t work.
It makes everything worse.
It may be time to think about re-assigning one or two training budgets.
And purchase a copy of Le Petit Prince for everyone.