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I think I can present to you another fictional character who is striking in his ambivalence: Willy Wonka. I bring this up partly because Tim Burton has tried to revive a classic - sadly, he has failed miserably. That said, the classic film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, is full of ambivalence: poverty and wealth. Sorry to ruin it for anyone, but in the end wealth seems to win (or does it?). If you haven't watched the film my point is probably lost in you, but for anyone who has, what do you think? Does Charlie's reward to take over the chocolate factory yield an ambivalent result or does it at once seem conclusive? I think it's prudent to bring this up because if we are going to discuss US-China relations and trends we must discuss them in a state of ambivalence? For example, if Unocal ends up on Chinese china (sorry, couldn't resist it), is it necessarily a +10 for China and a -10 for the US? In this ambivalence, how do we judge the conditions of each country's peoples?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

This is very interesting. It nicely frames the notion of "complex relationships" which increasingly underlies not just politics but also business. Many of our top competitors at IBM are also our top business partners, and so a simplistic approach for dealing with them will just not work.

I really like the use of our relationships with our mothers as Exhibit A of what a complex relationship looks like. I guess one could have added our spouses or partners, our children and other close family members to the list. This is often the stuff of the greatest tragedies, as a glance at classic Greek plays or Shakespearer (e.g., Othello, King Lear) will quickly reveal.

Some have tried to hark back to the "simplicity" of the Western as proof that real men add up +10 and -7 and act on the result, and our problem is all those melancholic Berkeley professors and their 60s style permissive upbringing. They should watch the great later Westerns of John Ford and John Wayne (e.g., The Searchers, The Man who Shot Liberty Valance) which dealt with the settling of the West with all its ambiguities and complexities.


Both have created a world of their own, in which their followers has something to cling to.

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