Thursday, July 30, 2015

Clancy Martin

Clancy Martin is Professor of Philosophy in the University of Missouri-Kansas City's College of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Business Ethics at the Bloch School of Management. His books include the Pushcart Prize winning novel How to Sell, and a book of philosophy, Love and Lies: An Essay on Truthfulness, Deceit, and the Growth and Care of Erotic Love.

From his Q & A with April Ayers Lawson at VICE:

VICE: Before you were a philosophy professor, you were a jewelry salesman. You "used deception to take the easy way out of selling." It made you miserable, led to a cocaine addiction and extended time in the executive bathroom where you'd stand in front of the mirror with a gun barrel in your mouth. You write: "Though I don't believe in the existence of a soul, exactly, I came to understand what people mean when they say you are losing your soul." Well, what do they mean?

Clancy Martin: I think when we talk about "losing our soul" what we might mean is something like losing self-respect, losing our sense of what matters, losing our hope that we can become better people—maybe even becoming cynical about the whole enterprise of human life. When I was at my lowest, I thought life was no more than struggling to get from one day to the next without killing yourself. If I could have crawled into a cocoon that would have put me to sleep forever I would have done so—or would have wished to do so—and then felt sorry for myself that I didn't. This, for me, was "losing my soul." Forgetting that anyone other than me and my little circle of immediate concerns mattered.

Excessive lying, in my opinion, will do this to a person. Why? I think because, as Adrienne Rich says, "the liar leads a life of unutterable loneliness": Somehow communication with others, when we feel like we are actually talking to one another and not just pretending to talk, restores our belief in the idea that we can become better people. And why is that the case? Because then we remember that other people matter—and that we, as individuals, might matter to them, too. Yes, successful communication requires some dishonesty. But too much dishonesty completely isolates you from other people, and that takes you to a place of complete despair. Someone who has become a habitual liar—as I was when I was in the jewelry business, for example—is a lot like a person coming down off cocaine (something that also happened to me a lot back in those jewelry days). You feel...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: How to Sell.

Writers Read: Clancy Martin.

The Page 99 Test: Love and Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue