The Three Branches.

All the recent news about Hillary, Obama, Spitzer, corporate CEOs getting fired, etc., leads one to think about functional divides–specifically the role of the executive. It seems that the executive is an easy target, a metaphor for the rest of the organization. It is also a role of ego and star power. But is it a creative one?

Our three branches: legislative, executive and judiciary. These are tried and true functional categories that are applicable to more than just governmental division of power. On way to generalize them would be as follows: creator, decision-maker, and critic. It is easy to see how this is applicable to both the corporate world (producer, manager, the market) and the art world (artist, agent/gallery owner, critic/market/academic).

The producer-artist has the most access to creativity and originality, but is the least powerful. She is subject to immediate judgment from the decision-maker, and the secondary judgment of the critic or audience. She is the one with the highest aspirations, and the lowest probability of those aspirations coming true. Our troubled executives fall into the second category. Their power lies in controlling the lever, driven by a relentless ability to decide YES or (more frequently) NO. They control the floodgates of culture, economy and political power; but arguably are akin to a computer circuit. Judges, whether legal, academic, or mass-audience, are blessed with an unmatched longevity. Unlike the twitchy executive, their decision is final and historic, raising or sinking others permanently. It seems though that this is mostly a role of consumption, cynicism and editing, and not one of creativity. On the other hand, judgment can turn to revolution.

Of course, these distinctions tend to blend together. For example, Presidents and Supreme Court Justices do love to legislate. And all artists have decided long ago that they are, and will be for all time, the best.


PS. Interesting to note that the concept of God has the characteristics of both creator (thought up the world) and judge (is the arbiter of ultimate truth). Yet there is no executive power! One could say then that the executive is defined by her ability to err, and is thus truly unique to humanity. Conclusion: the credit crisis is a metaphor for human nature and free will.

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