Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Focus Board To Discard or Not To Discard?

Inspired by a recent post from Jow at A Mage’s blog, I decided to draft up a list of characters who inspire me and which do not quite make the grade.

At first I was struggling just with what the definition of a focus board would be, until I settled on the following test… Would I ever ask the question: “What would [insert name] do in this situation?”

For example, “What would the Dread Pirate Roberts do in this situation?”. Anyway, here is the focus board. I’m still in the process of voting a few off and replacing them with those who can help provide me with a sharper focus.

1. Hellboy

He’s a kick-ass hero with a lot of will and raw potential. He’s loyal to his friends and willing to enter the land of the dead to bring them back. Hellboy is also a great example (albeit of a fictional variety) that it is possible to overcome one’s nature.

Then again he acts too often on impulse and is able to get through due to his demonic attributes of resilience and a almost unbreakable arm. So whilst he’s a fun hero to emulate, he’s difficult to copy or emulate. Hence Hellboy ends up on the Discard pile.

2. The Maharal of Prague

Rabbi Judah Loew was great scholar and leader of his generation. He’s remembered for creating a golem although it is questionable whether he actually did so or not. His commentaries on Jewish law are still studied today and his influence lives on.

Assuming that the Prague golems legens are true… The reason for building the golem was to protect the Jewish community against blood libels. The Maharal created it out of necessity. Whilst I admire his achievements, I don’t believe that I can ever get near his abilities as a leader, scholar, or golem builder. The Maharal for the moment moves to the discard pile, as I need to study his works to better copy his example.

3. Graham Marshal

This is a character from the film “A Shock to the System” about a man who is overlooked for promotion and resorts to murder to advance himself in the company. I admire his desire to move up the corporate ladder, something that I’ve not put enough time or energy in to and hence have remained a relatively low level project manager. However, murder is not the way in which I believe it is right to achieve career progression. Graham Marshall ends up the discard pile because he is a murderous bastard, but the film was entertaining enough to get me to think about what I can do within my moral/ethical framework to advance in corporate life.

4. Professor James Moriarty

I had thought to include Sherlock Holmes due to his incredible ability to notice details, spot patterns, and his genius. But he got rejected quickly due to his obsessive-compulsiveness and heroin addiction. Instead I settled on Moriarty for two reasons: 1. he is the Napoleon of Crime, brilliant at planning and execution, 2. He’s good enough at this to give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money.

On the other hand, the whole criminal genius does mean that his moral outlook is questionable to say the least. This means that ultimately Moriarty has to be discarded as he’s just too evil.

5. Abraham Abulafia

Born in 1240 and died (approx) 1291, Abraham Abulafia was an iterant scholar and Kabbalist who travelled around Spain, Italy, and Sicily. He taught a method of meditation referred to as Ecstatic or Prophetic Kabbalah and wrote down in detil the techniques that he used.

However, he ‘rocked the boat’ so to speak and was excommunicated by the leading rabbi in Spain. His writing survived the centuries and was brought back in to prominence in Safed schools as well as in modern day.

Abulafia did have a bit of a Messiah complex though, although I do not quite believe that he thought he was THE Messiah. Rather he was trying to get everyone to achieve their innate potential of living with Divine consciousness as it was in the Garden of Eden. In his travels he tried to convert the Pope and was saved from being burnt at the stake when the Pope died suddenly.

Abulafia should be on the discard pile due to his Messianism, but I can’t quite bring myself to move him off the list. Abulafia stays simply because he wrote so much down and has been an inspiration ever since I find came across him in a book by Prof. Gershom Scholem.