Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Stan Lee (ESE): Personality Type Analysis

Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber) is known as the face of Marvel Comics, where he not only created many beloved comic book heroes but also became something of a personality and household name. Lee's most obvious trait is his enormous enthusiasm for life and for his work, which is an indication of E1 and specifically ESEs. Although known for creating many of Marvel's most notable superheroes, he more naturally takes a marketing role in the process, meaning making the product appealing to the readers, and putting a distinctive "face" on it, which is a function of E as well as F. There are several examples of this. For one, he would write a column filled with his personal thoughts in the comic books, not necessarily about the comics but whatever was going through his head. This kind of unlimited "dishing" of what is going on in one's mind and in one's life is another trait of E leading types. It is also clear that Lee's personal appeal is more based on being a generally down-to-earth and likeable guy, rather than any strength of vision and insight, showing greater strength and emphasis in S than T. He also extends this philosophy to his characters: for him a superhero must have weaknesses — not in the sense of tragic flaws, but to be more like real people, and they should also have to deal with everyday problems like the rest of us. Consequently, he sees acutely the problems with the idealized "perfect" superheroes like Superman that are based more on T than S. (This is also tied to awareness of F: he notes that they literally had to invent Kryptonite to create some kind of conflict for Superman. It arguably also shows a certain preference for P over L.) Also, while Lee draws mostly from his personal experience, he has more recently attempted to branch out more by creating superheroes of different ethnicities.

The other side of Lee's role in marketing is his attitude towards creating the content: unlike many creative people, Lee was in fact eager to give up creative control of the very superheroes he created— showing a willingness to let others deal with the logical aspects of the process, and perhaps even L5 in particular.

Along with Lee's enthusiasm for life goes an openness to trying new things: for a man of 90+ years, he is extraordinarily in tune with new social trends, and especially new technologies like CGI and smartphones — "I'm always looking for a bandwagon to jump on", he jokes. This is a clear sign of someone who is comfortable with I; however, he seems to accept new things as a reaction, rather than showing particular discrimination as to which new phenomena actually have the most value—showing that while his I is Bold and Valued, it is most likely lacking in nuance, so Weak I6. (It seems that Lee did not help to originate the concept of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, it is a novel concept that shows his values are most likely in line with the company's at large.)

Another unusual trait of Lee's is his seemingly endless ability to work and do stuff in general — he's been in the business for over 50 years and shows little sign of slowing down. This kind of sheer energy is a sign of very Strong F, as in sensing extroverts,

So, overall we see someone with an overwhelming focus on and talent for E (E1) which is supported by S (S2), lots of use of I but less skill (I6), and also with a large supply of F, which is however used mostly for himself and is far less central to his worldview and speech than E and I (F8). Finally, there is also little to no sign of T (T4). Everything points to ESE.

To learn more about ESE, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Ruhollah Khomeini (LSI): Personality Type Analysis

Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini (a.k.a. Ayatollah Khomeini) was Grand Supreme Leader of Iran from 1979 until his death in 1989. He was, in some sense, responsible for the Iranian Revolution and overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (ILI) and founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Khomeini was well known to be a strict and adamant follower of Shia Islam, with the intention of shifting the previous monarchy laid out by Shah Pahlavi into an Islamic republic.

Khomeini was born in 1901 in Khomeyn, Iran, under the care of his mother and aunt, and was drawn to the studies of Shiite law and Islamic scholarly pursuits, as well as the traditional and ancient language of Iran - old Persian. Although invested in these studies, Khomeini as a young man was not interested in politics, and primarily felt that this task was better suited for clerics.  It was not until 1962 – during the reign of Shah Mohammad Pahlavi, where Khomeini began to change his attitude towards political activism. 
As his knowledge of Islam became more refined, his interpretations of Shiite law became more strict– where he started to believe that Islam was not only a spiritual pursuit – but also a political one: 

“When anyone studies a little or pays a little attention to the rules of Islamic government, Islamic politics, Islamic society and Islamic economy he will realize that Islam is a very political religion. Anyone who will say that religion is separate from politics is a fool; he does not know Islam or politics.”

The death of two religious Shia leaders who had some political power in Iran left an open platform for Khomeini, which he seized easily. During this time, the Shah of Iran had tried to suppress some aspects of the clerical class, as well as welcoming diplomatic relations with US military. These events deeply upset a large population of Iran, as it was noted to be an intrusion of their nationalistic pride which made Khomeini's position in the clerical groups much more powerful. The date of June 5th 1963 is regarded by revolutionists as the turning point from the reign of the Shah (with influence and relations with the West) to one of strict and nationalistic Islamic adherence. The political foundation of using Islamic law to protecting Iran's assets became widely supported. In 1964, Khomeini denounced the Shah and the United States, and as he became more politically active with hundreds and thousands of followers, the Shah of Iran exiled him to Iraq in late 1964.

During his 14 years of exile in Iraq, Khomeini laid in wait for an opportune moment to push his political agenda – while simultaneously gathering followers and a military base from the outskirts of the Iran/Iraq borders. He also published many influential pieces of work that laid out his projected foundations for Iran:

The laws of society should be made up only of the laws of God - which cover "all human affairs" and "provide instruction and establish norms" for every "topic" in "human life."

Islamic jurists who have studied and are the most knowledgeable in Sharia, the country's ruler should be [one who] "surpasses all others in knowledge" of Islamic law and justice, as well as having intelligence and administrative ability. 
Rule by monarchs and/or assemblies of "those claiming to be representatives of the majority of the people" has been proclaimed "wrong" by Islam

This system of clerical rule is necessary to prevent injustice, corruption, oppression by the powerful over the poor and weak, innovation and deviation of Islam and Sharia law; and also to destroy anti-Islamic influence and conspiracies by non-Muslim foreign powers

Over 14 years of build up - the Shah was eventually overthrown in 1979. Khomeini approximately 11 days later returned to Iran and was titled Supreme Leader. The previous provisional government was adamantly opposed by Khomeini, as they tried to implement the previous foundations laid out by the Shah. Khomeini stated he would “kick their teeth in" and that as supreme leader, he would appoint the government on his own, as it was dictated by God. Khomeini chose his own interim prime minister to complete his cabinet and claimed publicly that "he must be obeyed. It is God's government."

In general – Khomeini’s primary tactic during his climb to power was that of following a strict, and consistent code of Shia Islam – one of which cannot and will not be broken by outside dissidents or from its own Persian citizens: 

-"Those who are trying to bring corruption and destruction to our country in the name of democracy will be oppressed…they must be hanged. We will oppress them by God's order”. 

In my opinion, this very narrow and strict adherence to principles, while constructing his political environment can only be described best by the L and F valuing type, specifically, the Beta QuadraHis general focus has primarily been that of strict Islamic rule, one that is of his own interpretation, and one that is obstinately followed by all people for the betterment of the society. Additionally, I think Khomeini had a very good sense of strategic maneuverability in order to have infiltrated the political environment during his exile. He was able to create a political movement while not even being in the same country as the one he wanted to morph.

Overall, I believe Khomeini’s type to be LSIStrong and Valued L+F makes sense for his unbending views and interpretations of religious law, and  his ability to take positions of opportunity easily for his agenda. His desire to bring unity and cohesion to the Iranian people, albeit through force, fear or punishment – as well as a strict code that is solely determined by Islamic principles, make sense for the LSI type. 

It makes sense to me that the change between the more Gamma influenced years of the Shah of Iran to the Beta years of Khomeini transformed Iran to what it is today. Iran in previous decades was primarily one focused on independence through economic growth and stood apart from its primarily Arabic neighbors. Although these ideals have been apparent from the beginning of Persian civilization through history - the more current one is that of consistent principles based on Islamic law, one of which was dramatically changed because of Khomeini's revolution.

To learn more about about LSI, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Emily Brontë (ILI): Personality Type Analysis

Emily Jane Brontë was an English poet and writer who lived in the first half of the 19th century, one of the Brontë sisters, along with Charlotte and Anne. Unlike her sisters, Emily published only one book, 'Wuthering Heights', before her death at the age of 30; but that one book is now considered one of the greatest works of English literature.

Like her sisters and her brother, Branwell, Emily grew up in circumstances that encouraged her into spending a lot of time reading and writing. Their father, Patrick, became the curator of the church of the small town of Haworth, in Yorkshire, and he was strict about silence in the house while he worked, so the children got used to spending many hours together in the same room not just reading but also writing their own poems and stories. The Brontë children were in a relatively unusual social situation: their father’s position meant the occupation of a very large house and a comfortable income during his lifetime, but next to nothing in terms of income or estate that he could leave them. Therefore, how the children would support themselves adequately after Patrick Brontë’s death was a question always present in their minds.

For highly-educated and literate girls such as the Brontës, at the time, the most obvious career paths (apart from marriage) were as teacher, or governess in a wealthy household. The three of them did attempt to pursue those careers, but only Anne was fairly successful in such positions – Charlotte had a few such jobs but found them stressful, but not as much as Emily, who quit a teaching position after only about 6 months. It seems that what Charlotte and Emily found stressful was not so much the long working hours but having to deal with unruly children. Trying to improve their credentials so that they could open a small school of their own, Charlotte and Emily went to Brussels to study French and German, both making quick progress and impressing the headmaster. However, upon their return to Haworth, their attempt to run their own school failed, largely because of the scarcity of interested students in that isolated area. Emily’s career prospects were more or less settled as she became the curate’s (i.e. at the time, her father) housekeeper, leaving Charlotte as the most worried about her future.

Since childhood, the four children had distracted themselves by creating their own fantasy world and writing poems and stories about it; Emily and Anne focused on a fictional island, 'Gondal'. None of their stories have survived, but from poems and fragments it seems that they were a sort of 'Game of Thrones' thing. Charlotte discovered Emily’s 'Gondal' poems (much to Emily’s annoyance) and suggested that the three girls should publish a collection of their poems, which they did, under the pseudonyms of 'Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell'. Their poetry book was a flop commercially but it encouraged Charlotte to give another try in publishing, this time novels. Charlotte wrote 'The Professor', Emily 'Wuthering Heights' and Anne, 'Agnes Grey'. By the time Emily’s and Anne’s books had found a publisher, and Charlotte’s hadn’t, Charlotte had already completed her second novel, 'Jane Eyre', which became a quick bestseller, far more so than her sister’s books. Eventually 'Wuthering Heights' also became a huge success but Emily Jane died before she would be aware of that.

The available resources for analysing Emily Jane’s type are what is known of her life, testimonies of those who knew her, and, I would argue, her masterpiece 'Wuthering Heights'.  Although its plot, characters, and cultural background are firmly anchored in the Yorkshire moors near Haworth, where Emily liked to go wandering, in fact 'Wuthering Heights' was largely derived from Emily’s fantasy world of Gondal. Unlike Charlotte, who struggled a bit with writing her first two books, Emily seems to have had no difficulty in sitting down and 'translating' into the Yorkshire background some of the characters, and plots, among the many she had already conceived in her mind when thinking and writing about Gondal. In fact, even as she settled down as the curate’s housekeeper, she never lost her interest in her Gondal fantasy world, which she shared mostly with Anne (who however had become less enthusiastic about it). Gondal was Emily Jane’s 'alternate reality', created for her own amusement and refuge. That she spent many years creating and developing one single fantasy world in her mind, a world with little direct connection to her immediate daily surroundings, already points to T rather than I as a quadra value, and even to T as a strong function, so likely T1 or T2.

Some of the basic themes of 'Wuthering Heights' (and so, I have to assume, of her Gondal stories) were: the effects of intense relationships, of deep love and hatred, between a very limited number of characters, over decades, even beyond death; resentment, and revenge, long after the original injuries; the use of wealth as a tool of power and of satisfying revenge. All of those are Gamma themes. Also, the book’s structure to tell a story spanning decades is not chronological, it follows back-and-forth jumps between time periods while focusing on the same narrow number of characters, with the result that the characters’ internal consistency is perceived as going beyond their ages or specific circumstances. That is also a characteristic of Gamma values (R+T). Also, remarkably, the book conveys so accurately the cultural and physical environment of the Yorkshire moors that the Gondal influence was only spotted much later: Emily recorded perfectly the local Yorkshire dialect in the character of Joseph, and the machinations of the character Heathcliff to become the owner of two large properties, based on the archaic law of Entail, are fully consistent with the actual law of the time, according to a legal scholar. That suggests P as a quadra value: Emily felt the need, like a historian, to make sure that the story she created accurately reflected the reality of the environment in which she set it (by contrast, for a new edition of 'Wuthering Heights', Charlotte decided to 'dilute' Joseph’s Yorkshire dialect, sacrificing accuracy for the sake of readability).

As a person, by all accounts, Emily was extremely reserved, shunning broader social contact and preferring to focus on her own Gondal world, her studies of German and French, her daily job as a housekeeper, her immediate family, her pets (cats and dogs), and solitary wanderings in the moors. Apart from her studies in Brussels, she was far less likely than either Charlotte or Anne to travel away from home. Those who knew Charlotte and Emily in Brussels found Charlotte shy and insecure but longing for social contact and making an effort; Emily, by contrast, was seen as deliberately avoiding socialising. In the same context, Charlotte (who was very short and insecure about her looks) made an effort to adapt her attire to the Brussels fashion; Emily couldn’t care less about that and stuck to her 'odd' Yorkshire moors clothes – despite being, by all accounts, the most conventionally pretty of the three sisters. That suggests a much lower focus on E than R.

Two people who knew Emily well have left descriptions of her. Charlotte (likely to have aimed at being as positive as possible) had this to say:

My sister's disposition was not naturally gregarious; circumstances favoured and fostered her tendency to seclusion; except to go to church or take a walk on the hills, she rarely crossed the threshold of home. Though her feeling for the people round was benevolent, intercourse with them she never sought; nor, with very few exceptions, ever experienced. And yet she knew them: knew their ways, their language, their family histories; she could hear of them with interest, and talk of them with detail, minute, graphic, and accurate; but WITH them, she rarely exchanged a word.”

Constantin Héger, their Brussels headmaster, commented (in a slightly old-fashioned, sexist way):

She should have been a man – a great navigator. Her powerful reason would have deduced new spheres of discovery from the knowledge of the old; and her strong imperious will would never have been daunted by opposition or difficulty, never have given way but with life. She had a head for logic, and a capability of argument unusual in a man and rarer indeed in a woman... impairing this gift was her stubborn tenacity of will which rendered her obtuse to all reasoning where her own wishes, or her own sense of right, was concerned.

Also, it is interesting that for a person who avoided social contact so much, she was confident with 'Wuthering Heights' when writing in the first person from the perspective of characters very different to herself, very convincingly, which suggests that she was indeed very interested in understanding other people and their relationships. This points to Valued R along with the very Weak E - and R as not too weak a function.

All the available information about Emily Brontë points to general Gamma values; to T as an Ego function (T1 or T2), to near non-existing E (so likely E4), and to R as a Valued but Weak function, but not as much as R5, so fitting R6 best. All of it points very clearly to ILI as Emily Jane’s type (and it’s even difficult to find arguments for another type, in my opinion).

Recommended reading and sources: I have relied on Juliet Barker's biography. 'The Brontës', as well as 'Wuthering Heights'. The legal-historical analysis of Heathcliff's manipulation of the law of Entail can be found here. The only certain portraits of Emily Jane are (low-quality) drawings by her brother Branwell; it has been doubted that the picture above does represent her but neither is it certain that it's not her.

To learn more about ILI, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Julius Caesar (SEE): Personality Type Analysis

Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman aristocrat, politician, military leader, Dictator, and author, active in the last decades of the Roman Republic, in the first century BC. His impact on western history is enormous: he was chiefly responsible for incorporating Gaul (i.e. modern France) into the Mediterranean world i.e. the Roman Empire, as well as indirectly for the same with regards to Britain. The modern calendar, based on a year of 365 days with a leap year every 4 years, and 12 months, is essentially the same one as introduced under his instructions. The month 'July' was named so in his honour, after his clan name 'Julius', immediately after his death. His family name, 'Caesar', eventually became a synonym for 'emperor', surviving into the 20th century as 'Kaiser' and 'Tsar'. He is also generally regarded as one of history's greatest military leaders, his battles serving as case studies to this day.

Although by ancestry belonging to the highest nobility - his clan 'Julius' claimed direct descent to Aeneas and therefore to the goddess Venus - Caesar's family was (relatively) impoverished by the time he was born in 100 BC. In the ultra-competitive, expensive, high-stakes world of Roman politics of his time, that meant that Caesar had to adopt unconventional means of advancing his political career.

Especially considering his circumstances, Caesar's political career was extraordinarily successful, with him advancing faster, and to greater heights, than any of his contemporaries, even those far wealthier and better connected.

Simplistically, Caesar's whole career progressed on the basis of all-or-nothing extreme risk-taking. In electoral politics, that meant spending money far beyond his means, getting into debt to the point of criminal liability - but always rescued by electoral or military success. But failure at any point could have meant bankruptcy, disgrace, and exile: famously, at the age of 37, he bet it all in winning the election to Pontifex Maximus, telling his mother that day that either he'd win or have to go into exile.

Likewise, as a military leader, his style was to get himself and his men into very difficult situations (numerical inferiority, poor logistics, unknown and hostile territory, etc.) and then use tactical brilliance and improvisation to find a way out - with supreme self-confidence in his abilities and, as he himself put it, "Caesar's luck". In so doing, he basically re-invented ancient warfare as he went along, even in situations where he had no previous experience, as in siege warfare (Alesia) or urban warfare (Alexandria) or in more conventional battles (Pharsalus). This meant that more conventional, cautious commanders such as Pompey were outmanoeuvred by Caesar even when in numerical and tactical advantage.

Caesar obviously trusted his on-the-moment tactical improvisation and often neglected the accumulation of intelligence, as in his first expedition to Britain. That almost led to disaster as he simply did not realize that the Channel tides were far more intense than those of the Mediterranean.

Caesar's never-ending, sometimes reckless pursuit of political power, as well as his natural ability to lead and his confidence in assessing forces on the battlefield, on the spot, strongly point to F as a Valued and Strong function, indeed to an Ego function. This is also confirmed by his apparent lack of physical fear even in very disadvantageous situations, even when kept prisoner by pirates (he mocked them and said he'd crucify them as soon as he was set free, which he did).

As a leader of men, Caesar was notorious for not caring about imposing discipline on his men in the way of rules: what he cared about was their loyalty, obedience, competence. and trust (i.e. willingness to follow him into seemingly hopeless situations). His leadership was based not mainly on the fact that he was their hierarchical and social superior, but that he was better than they were at being leader and thus deserved to be followed.

This is evidence that his leadership was based on F+R, rather than F+L. Caesar's focus on R can be seen in his memoirs of his conquest of Gaul, when he repeatedly boasts of his personal relationship to the Gallic chieftains (and complains of those who couldn't be trusted). It can also be seen in his approach to political enemies: Caesar was so confident in his ability to gain the trust of those he had defeated that he preferred to pardon them and receive them as friends.

Caesar's pursuit of personal political power and wealth, besides based on extreme risk-taking, was also based on ignoring conventions and rules, even laws. His approach was to achieve his goals and worry less about such "details". The problem with that is that his continuous illegalities led to him being liable to prosecution by his political enemies - precisely what meant that his only way in the political ladder was up: even a brief period out of office would mean legal prosecution. Like his near-disastrous military traps, that was a longer-term personal trap that he found himself into, arguably without realizing it, leaving him no way out except through his ultimate extreme gamble i.e. illegally invading Italy proper with his legions, characteristically saying "let the dice fly" as he did so.

A historical controversy exists as to whether Caesar always planned to make himself supreme political leader in Rome (i.e. like a revolutionary leader) or whether - as he himself claimed - he ended up as Dictator simply because it was either that, or being personally ruined. The first interpretation would suggest someone of the Beta quadra, like a Benito Mussolini (SLE) or Vladimir Lenin (SLE); the second, rather the Gamma quadra.

Having achieved (illegal) control of Rome and Italy through sheer military power, Caesar was concerned about legalizing it but he did so in a seemingly ad hoc manner, becoming at first Dictator for just a few days, then consul, then later Dictator again in different ways - as with military campaigns, that was done in a 'making it up as you go along manner' and apparent zero concern with consistency. That confirms, along with other observations above, low focus on L.

Although chiefly concerned with completing his victory over his political enemies, during his period as Dictator, Caesar engaged into a series of isolated reforms: a settlement of the debts of over-indebted individuals, urban reform in Rome, reform of the then-chaotic calendar (introducing the modern calendar), reform of the supply of subsidized grain, etc. All of those were implemented with enormous energy in a very brief period of time, but rather as a series of isolated measures aimed at fixing specific problems pragmatically, not as part of any 'restructuring' of Roman society or constitution. Indeed, despite his own position having become essentially extra-constitutional, Caesar showed no apparent concern (or idea) of how to adjust the constitution accordingly, and at the time of his death his plan was to start another huge military campaign, against Parthia (Persia). This shows where his priorities lay.

Julius Caesar was a man most focused, and able, and confident, in the F matters of career climbing and military exploits and conquest, but in a way where extreme (and sometimes almost disastrous) risk-taking was the pattern, and with little sign of longer-term strategy or vision. This shows a much lower focus on T than F. His focus on L seemed non-existent, either in his approach to military matters or in  his legal position, or in any visible 'ideology' (except that of his rising to the top). His approach to P was ambiguous: in the possession of  political power, his use of it had mote of a P than L focus, but in campaign, his use of it was shaky.

Finally, besides being confident in his ability to get the respect and trust of individuals, by all accounts he was the perfect politician in terms of knowing the value of propaganda and in exercising enormous personal charm when he wanted to.

All of that fits the SEE's functional ordering of F1, R2, L4, T5, P6 and E8, besides the more general SEE themes of personal independence and opportunistic, improvised careerism.

Recommended reading and sources: Caesar's own reports of his wars in Gaul, "The Gallic Wars", are available online in English. Plutarch and Suetonius wrote biographies of him. Contemporaries such as Sallust and Cicero left extensive works on the period. My own preferred modern biography is Adrian Goldsworthy's 'Caesar: Life of a Colossus'.

To learn more about SEE, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.