In previous reflections, I discussed what is meant by soul. I noted great-souled persons. And I described us weak-souled ones and why we need spiritual exercises along with physical exercises to grow our minds and the spirit of the universe. I asked the question of the possibility of a no-souled person which seems like a contradiction in terms since soul defines ones personality, character, and center of consciousness.
But then I encountered a man without a soul. Like Zelig in Woody Allen's movie of that name he is everywhere and no where. He is totally a creature of his environment and genes. Neither good nor bad, he is no-one, fits in anywhere, and takes on the guises of his situations. There is no transparency and no identity in such a man. He is pure reflection--which, by the way, is why he can have a following, even a large one. His words and actions reflect what others desire and fear. He has no position because he is not positioned. He is a brand, a slogan, a commercial. He is an actor without his own persona.
I was about to write a story of this man whom I named Harold Godman. He enters a crowded room of the Godman Center dressed in fine dark blue silk and a bright red tie. His hair is molded by a professional in what could be called a permanent. He wears a smile that seems molded by Da Vinci. On his arm and in his entourage are beautiful women from the cover of Vogue or the center page of Playboy. He looks like a god in his silk suit, with his manicured hands, and bronze skin. And if the gods exist because lesser men believe in them, he is indeed a god.
He puts himself and his name everywhere gaining as much publicity as he can and selling his name to investors. He places his name on all his properties, has ghostwritten books, and claims to have the answer to all persons' ills. I had him deliver a speech of dedication to the Godman Center, a huge hotel in the heart of Gotham, which on the surface used great phrases and yet, on analysis, said nothing.
By now you have guessed who my model of the man without a soul is. But I was intending on simply drawing a cartoon and writing a caricature or using what Weber would call an "ideal type" for making a point of distinction. But then I read the interview of Tony Swartz, the ghostwriter of Donald Trump's Art of the Deal. I discovered that my ideal type is real.
Here are some of the phrases Swartz used to describe the man after spending eighteen months shadowing him in the writing of his book:
- pathologically impulsive and self-centered.
- obsessed with publicity.
- only takes two positions. "Either you’re a scummy loser, liar, whatever, or you’re the greatest. I became the greatest."
- ruthless and single-minded in pursuit of profit.
- no attention span.
- impossible to keep focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement.
- a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.
- seriously doubt that he has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.
- driven entirely by a need for public attention. All he is is ‘stomp, stomp, stomp’—recognition from outside, bigger, more, a whole series of things that go nowhere in particular.
- lied strategically. He had a complete lack of conscience about it.
- his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money.
- need for attention is completely compulsive.
- He’d like people when they were helpful, and turn on them when they weren’t. It wasn’t personal. He’s a transactional man—it was all about what you could do for him.
- People are dispensable and disposable.