The Illusionist

[Originally the post was a tiny review of the movie, but the title was re-purposed for this post.]
I had a friend who wanted to hire me multiple times. I turned him down. There are days where I think I shouldn’t have, because the money would be good, and it’d give me a chance to work outside the US. However, I’m still much more satisfied I have my freedom, no matter what costs I’ve had to go through to maintain them.

I turned down this friend though, because even though he’s a cool guy, and I’m glad he sees the worth of my skills, I’ve prescribed him to be a man who schmoozes and boozes with authorities. I mean, all business people do that no matter what country, but these are the authorities who partake in a system that was hellbent on stealing everything away from my family, and have very different values from me. Do I resent this friend for his dealings with these authorities? No, he had to do what he had to, and his business has thrived because of it. Just the same, I’ve taken jobs with a similar organisation on the other side of the aisle, so I’m not any better than he is.

Today, I was reminded of another friend. He used to be in a position not too different from my friend above. He was in the propaganda department of said government. While he wasn’t part of the policy-making apparatus, he was still a part of that machine. Now, he’s here and making good money. No fault in it of itself, after all, he escaped that place for a reason. So having worked in the propaganda department, and having dealt with big studios in other countries, I asked him what it took to get his projects released, and he told me the art of selling. Basically, be there, find out their problem, help solve it —only thing is, whatever product you have or want, don’t sell it. Voila! OK, simple enough, right? Once again, schmooze and booze with people, seems to come natural to him and other people I know.

Then, just like the friend above, he continued to try to recruit me to his company. Already connecting the dots, he then went on to tell me how, schmoozing and boozing with those people are the same skills as what’s needed in what he’s recruiting for. It’s the marriage of exercise in skills needed, while at the same time a way to gain income.

I make money out of nothing but thin air.

, he told me.

I got it, and even before he was proselytizing this job (whose product I ultimately don’t believe in), I was already asking: Can I schmooze and booze with people at all? My rejection from grad school, the hardships I’ve experienced in the past couple of years, has been because I’m the nail that sticks out, and people don’t want that. They want people they can talk to about things that I find trivial: The latest comic book movie, some sports event/irrelevant team, the luxury value of some automobile, what happened on some TV show I don’t have the time to watch, or some gameplay value of something I don’t want to waste my time on. No one wants a person they can’t relate to. After all,

“出る釘は打たれる” (the nail that sticks out gets hammered).

So then, the ultimate question is: Can I learn something from schmoozing and boozing with people to which it will be hard to find common ground? Can this actually be a good exercise to try to relate to people you otherwise wouldn’t? OR, would all the time and effort spent towards strengthening this weakness be better spent by fortifying my strengths? I value my freedom: La Libertà. I enjoy pursuing the random things life that other people neglect. After all, it’s a monopoly over a domain (for which there is no market). However, is it worth giving up for a moment (if not for the money, the potential learning experience)???


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