Sunday, 18 September 2016

Hillary Clinton (LSI): Personality Type Analysis

Hillary Rodham Clinton is an American lawyer, politician and occasional book author who possibly will serve as the 45th President of the United States.

A native of Illinois, Hillary met her future husband Bill Clinton (EIE) at Yale Law School. After graduating and working as a congressional counsel in a House committee investigating the Watergate scandal, she decided to move to Arkansas, Bill's home state, together with him and building up a professional career there, as a law professor at the University of Arkansas. They eventually got married and she later became a partner of the prestigious (in Arkansas) Rose Law Firm. During those years, probably it can be said, simplistically, that she was the stable breadwinner while Bill focused on his political career, somewhat shaky at first. Concisely, he was elected Arkansas Attorney General in 1976, then Governor in 1978. He lost his first attempt at re-election in 1980 (the term being then 2 years only), but managed to return as governor in 1982, being then continually re-elected Governor of Arkansas and remaining in that office until shortly after being elected US president in 1992, an office he occupied until January 2001. During those years, as Bill Clinton's wife, Hillary was therefore active as First Lady of Arkansas and then as First Lady of the US. In late 2000 Hillary was elected Senator for New York (a state with which she had had little or no previous personal or professional connection) and re-elected in 2006. In 2008 she ran for the nomination of the Democratic Party for the presidential elections, but despite being the favorite as first, she was in the end defeated by then Senator Barack Obama (IEI). Upon his becoming president, she was appointed as Secretary of State, in which position she served during his first term only, as apparently agreed early on. After a period in private activities, most recently she won the Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential election.

As a major public figure during so many years, there is obviously a vast amount of written and video information on Hillary Clinton. Yet it is probably fair to say that a lot of it is politicized, in the sense of being carefully calculated to promote her politically (such as her two books of memoirs as well her husband's), as well as most of her interviews as a political candidate. Conversely, many books and eyewitness reports by individuals who oppose her politically should also be taken with a pinch of salt. So for this Socionics analysis, I will focus on very early evidence, hopefully less 'tainted' with politics, then on general traits that seem consensual and consistent about her, as seen by her admirers and detractors alike.

The earliest and probably most important evidence is her 1969 commencement speech at Wellesley College when she was 21 - the very first student speaker there, elected apparently unanimously by the students. Given the circumstances of her life and of the technology at the time, and that she was addressing people who knew her well, it's probably fair to say that that speech is representative of her inner thoughts. She refers to herself and her fellow students as a collective; she focused on the fact that their generation still lacked "leadership and power", and is rather dismissive of the "empathy and sympathy" they have received (as being in the end meaningless). She focuses on politics being about "making the impossible, possible" and how the "inspiration" they had received from the 1960s decade (civil rights movement, space program, etc.) led to disappointed expectations when they arrived at college (meaning, implicitly, that it wasn't really a place for high-expectation dreams), even implying that she considered leaving at times; yet also saying that it was "tragic" when people have no optimistic vision of the future.

I would argue that this speech already strongly indicates that Hillary has F and T as quadra values - the focus on power, the frustration of the sense of powerlessness of her generation, the longing for inspiration towards very lofty goals. Her overall tone is slightly bitter, certainly not one to create comfortable S emotions among those present; on the contrary, I would guess that she intended it to be a bit uncomfortable. I would say that this already suffices to put Hillary squarely in the Beta or Gamma quadras.

Fast-forwarding, there is this interview of 1979, when she was about 32, and just recently after becoming Arkansas's first lady for the first time. The interview is mostly a series of "softballs", giving her a chance to give mostly politically and socially "neutral", even bland answers (like saying that Arkansas is the best place to be, etc.). Yet, at one point she gets more animated and digresses at some length, spontaneously, on the matter of the "image" the public, and people in general, may have of her and Bill, which will not be necessarily true, etc, but in the end it is something that is there and she has no control over it. In my view, this suggests that she acknowledges the public longer-term perception of someone, the "image", as something "real" and that she is aware of, even concerned about, but at the same time she feels sort of helpless about it as well. This is an indication of weak E+T, although probably valued, since she is aware and concerned about it. By comparison: I think an EIE, for instance, would either feel in control of her image and so not worry about it, or if worried, not mention it as a concern (as that would mean revealing too much). This would nevertheless point to the Beta quadra.

That is interesting looking at this April 1992 interview i.e. during Bill's first campaign for president. This video includes snapshots of public perceptions of her at the time, which consisted of her being "aggressive" and "ambitious" and even "the power behind the scenes" with the implication that Bill Clinton would be more like a figurehead. This is also reinforced in this other video of the the same year: the press took for granted that Bill was the man who "softened the edges" when talking about any subject, and Hillary was the one who "used a jackhammer". This is of course easily confirmed by looking at the videos themselves (and I daresay it's pretty obvious to anyone who has observed the  Clintons for any longer period). I would say that again points to Hillary having very weak E (certainly much weaker than her husband's) and an overall perception, I suggest justified, of having strong as well as valued F.

Without going into specific examples, I think this is obvious from her style when campaigning: she does not seem to enjoy the handshaking, ground work of campaigning in the sense of  talking to individuals - compare that to more natural politicians like Bill Clinton himself, George W. Bush (ESI), Barack Obama to some extent, or John McCain (ESI): McCain started his primary campaign in 2008 with little money, campaigning almost alone, driving across New Hampshire in a bus and sleeping in cheap motels, "having some fun" as his campaign manager put it - and managing to build up momentum to win the nomination. I daresay that such a feat would be totally beyond Hillary's inclinations and ability as a politician. Again, I think that points to not only weak E but also not strong R.

On her apparent areas of confidence: Hillary Clinton is much more comfortable in other kinds of environment, even hostile ones, such as answering detailed technical questions on her original health care plan during the early years of her husband's presidency ("Hillarycare"), besides the fact that that was the role she chose for herself, with Bill's agreement, which points to having confidence on L and P. Likewise, in her 2008 primary debates against Barack Obama, it is clear that she saw her "heavy artillery" in  argumentation as being a master of detail and spotter of supposed logical and factual inconsistencies, not trying to compete with Obama at the level of "passionate guide to a brighter future" (as Bill Clinton could easily do).

What we seem to have is someone of strong and valued F, very weak (but I think valued) E, valued and somewhat strong T, strong L and P, not strong R (but also not obviously weak as R4 either). All of that points to a Beta logical type, so LSI or even SLE. Her level of activity and energy, which seems more constant and low-key rather than "in your face" points to an integrator rather than energizer type. Her approach to E - cautious, "rehearsed", artificial, mechanical - also fits much better E5 rather than E6 of SLEs. So all points to LSI as Hillary Clinton's type. As is sometimes the case with integrator types, her L1 is not immediately apparent as such in isolation; her true deeper worldviews and ideologies are probably something she keeps private. Her L is more visible in her approach to argumentation.

Sources: besides the videos linked to above, there are of course countless others. The reference to John McCain in 2008 came from Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's book on that years election, "Game Change". My general impression of Hillary Clinton as a person was first shaped by Carl Bernstein's biography, "A Woman in Charge".

To learn more about LSI click here.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Alan Alda (IEE): Personality Type Analysis

Alan Alda is an American actor, screenwriter, director and science communicator, probably most famous for his role as Captain "Hawkeye" Pierce in the TV series M*A*S*H  (henceforth referred to as MASH).

What first tipped me off on Alda's type was precisely his impact on MASH. At first just one of many actors in the original cast, with several characters supposed to have more or less equal focus, gradually Alda's character Hawkeye moved to become the clear main focus of the show. At the same time, Alda himself evolved from just an actor hired to play a role to the person chiefly responsible for the the show's creative direction, by writing and directing increasingly more episodes and using his star power to steer the show in the direction he preferred. The impact of Alda's priorities is very obvious when comparing the show's seasons 1-3 to seasons 9-11, that is, from the period when his creative influence was small or negligible to the period when it was strongest (the "middle"seasons showing that trend more gradually). The first three seasons have a clear Alpha character (reflecting that of the motion picture on which the series was based), while the last three have an obvious Delta character. The Alpha period was marked by zany humour, as an anarchic comedy played clearly for laughs, where I would argue that the Beta characters and  institutions (the army itself and professional career military officers) were portrayed as ridiculous or downright insane (Col. Flagg), while the Gamma characters (Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan, caricatures of a LIE-ESI couple) were portrayed as humourless, selfish, stand-offish, overly ambitious careerists and unconcerned with anyone else. As Alda's influence made the Delta perspective wax, the show became a more "mature" one that focused on less obviously comedic characters (such as Klinger in his original conception) and situations; dealing more seriously with the war's impact on the psychology of the characters; looking far more sympathetically at the sole remaining Gamma character (Margaret Houlihan, an obvious ESI) and even introducing a sympathetic career army man as commanding officer  (Col. Potter), while retaining its skepticism (or lack of understanding) for the more obviously Beta traits of the army and characters. The character Hawkeye Pierce himself, I would argue, likewise shifted from being closest to an ILE to becoming more like an IEE. As this shift away from an Alpha perspective and towards a Delta one can be attributed almost entirely to the influence of Alda himself, that is already a good indicator of his quadra as Delta.

Looking more closely at Alan Alda as a person. MASH was set in the Korean War, but it was conceived, and initially aired, in the final years of the Vietnam War. It was often widely assumed at the time that despite  the Korean War setting, the series was actually meant as a thinly-veiled comment on the Vietnam War - which was indeed intended by the series's creators. Remarkably, Alan Alda has consistently claimed to have never been even aware of that interpretation, nor did he ever see the series as being "about" the Vietnam War in its goals. As far as he was concerned, the whole point was to make the audience empathize with the characters in that  difficult situation, imagining themselves there, rather than having any broader message, least of all one aimed at the political situation of the time, however subliminally. In fact, Alan Alda has stated in interviews that he deeply dislikes movies or TV shows that try to convey to the audience any kind of political message through the medium of entertainment or through a story. His preference is for productions that focus on the characters themselves and allow  the audience to experience other aspects of the human condition through those characters.

I would argue that the above points more clearly to Alan Alda having the Beta elements of E+T as well  as L  in subdued positions, while having the Delta elements of I + R in a stronger, even ego position. This is reinforced by Alda's press conference during the shooting of the very last MASH episode, where he talked easily of the complexity of his own mixed feelings about the end of the series, while saying that the most important thing for him had been the opportunity to explore his creativity in the context of personal relationships (I +R again) while retaining a matter-of-fact, rather unemotional manner throughout (consistent with P6). The same subjects and traits can be observed in Alda's other interviews done much more recently.

Finally, Alan Alda has become very interested in acting in a completely different area from his original one, as a science communicator, going into subjects with which he was totally unfamiliar for most of his life, like quantum mechanics. He has said that what motivated him, at first, was that he felt bad about himself whenever he noticed that he was making use of technology, even at a very simple level, yet had no idea of how any of that worked; claiming that he felt that he should know a bit about how things work. I see that as strongly pointing to mobilizing P, especially blocked with S (i.e. not so much broader knowledge but specifically about "small-scale", practical knowledge).

Although the above in itself would not rule out EII as Alda's type, his apparent functional ordering seems to fit the IEE's more; he has more of the restless energy when talking. more typical of energizers, and finally, during the whole 11 seasons of MASH, he commuted (i.e. flew) every week from his New Jersey home to Los Angeles. This seems to me to point away from the S6 of EIIs.

I think that the overall Delta perspective on other quadras and approach to storytelling, plus I+R in ego, subdued T+E, and P6 all fit Alan Alda very well, so his type is likely IEE.

Sources: besides the overall information on his life and my own observation of MASH's development, I have looked mainly at this interview and this one, and some others.

To learn more about IEE, click here.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Antoninus Pius (SLI): Personality Type Analysis

Titus Fulvus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, best known more simply as Antoninus Pius, was the 15th Roman Emperor. Despite the fairly unusual length of his reign - almost 23 years, from 138 to 161 - the direct documentation on the period is very limited. Still, I argue that there is enough evidence, based on what documentation is available, and the overall events of Antoninus's reign and what we know of his policies, to allow for an estimate of  his type, at least from a broad-brush perspective.

Antoninus was born in a wealthy senatorial (i.e. aristocratic landowning) family in 86, during the politically tense years of the authoritarian Emperor Domitian, but he reached adulthood in the more politically relaxed years of the Emperor Trajan. He climbed apparently effortlessly the traditional steps of a Roman public career, that is quaestor, praetor and then consul, during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, who obviously showed Antoninus considerable favor: Antoninus was appointed to very prestigious posts, especially proconsul (i.e. governor) of the province of Asia (the western part of the Turkish peninsula), pretty much the most socially prestigious post for a man of his class. Even so, it was probably a surprise to everyone. including him, when the dying Hadrian suddenly adopted the then 51-year-old Antoninus as his son (and therefore successor), on condition that Antoninus in turn adopt as son his wife's nephew, the future Emperor Marcus Aurelius (EII), then 17. Today most historians tend to think that Hadrian saw the young Marcus as his ultimate successor from the start and Antoninus was chosen as a reliable place-holder for him. Antoninus became emperor upon Hadrian's death, just 4 months after his adoption.

Given the wide freedom to choose and implement policy, enjoyed by an emperor with such a long reign, especially in that period, we can already spot some hints to his Socionics type by looking at the overall features of his reign. Most emperors had chosen to spend considerable parts of their reigns away from Rome or even Italy, either in command of armies in periods of war (like Trajan), or in inspection of the provinces and frontiers while doing some "PR work" (like Hadrian). Antoninus, very unusually, spent the 23 years of his reign in Italy and most of that in Rome itself. Also unlike his immediate predecessors, Antoninus spent essentially no money on high-profile architectural projects in Rome, spending however considerable sums on infrastructure in the provinces, such as aqueducts and roads. Unlike most of his predecessors and successors, Antoninus preferred to avoid foreign wars; the military activities of his reign were fairly low-profile "tidying up" operations, the most visible one being the move of the northern frontier in Britain from Hadrian's Wall to the Antonine Wall (which extended roughly from Glasgow to Edinburgh).

Antoninus clearly saw himself more as a 'manager' than as a 'builder' or 'conqueror' or, like Hadrian, a promoter of the idea of empire in the provinces. Antoninus's consistent style of governing, over 23 years, consisted of staying in Rome, governing through subordinates and correspondence, avoiding spending money on war or high-profile building projects, while spending on more low-profile but useful works, while carefully building up a financial surplus. Also, as a "HR manager", Antoninus preferred to keep the same men as provincial governors over many years, rather than rotate them more often as had been a more common practice. Most unusual of all, Antoninus kept the same man in the very sensitive position of Praetorian Prefect (i.e. the commander of the only armed forces in Italy) for a record of 20 years, which was extremely unusual.

The available descriptions of Antoninus, including by his adopted son Marcus Aurelius, portray a man of extreme serenity, immune or indifferent to flattery, of a kindly disposition, who felt a duty to manage the empire carefully, introverted in the social sense, and who had the reputation of a bureaucratic, micro-managing, penny-pinching administrator (even Marcus Aurelius, who worshipped Antoninus, felt the need to defend him on that point in his writings). Marcus Aurelius also wrote that Antoninus lived an extremely temperate life in terms of eating, drinking, and sleeping, knowing perfectly how to take care of his health. So, a stay-at-home, low-profile, careful, penny-pinching "ruler of the known world" who as administrator doesn't care about grandiose public works but does care about aqueducts and roads, as well as saving money;  who prefers to avoid war and who, once knowing he can trust a man to do a job well, prefers to keep him on that job "forever", and who lives a temperate, spartan life - all of that already points, I would argue, to subdued or weak F and E, valued but probably weak R, lower I than S,  and valued P.

Taken as a whole, Antoninus's reign of 23 years can be called uneventful, some might unkindly say "boring", as very little happened and neither did Antoninus take any action to introduce wide-ranging change, as many of his predecessors had done. Antoninus did introduce a series of piecemeal, gradual legislation, all in the direction of what we could call greater humanity and benevolence: he essentially invented the principle of "presumed innocent" in Roman law; made the enfranchisement of slaves easier; introduced the principle of removing slaves from the property of masters who consistently treated them badly; and forbade the "outsourcing" of female slaves as prostitutes, etc. Antoninus was no "revolutionary" who intended to challenge the institution of slavery, but rather someone who thought that slaves should be treated with a minimum of humanity. This, I would argue, points to P over L as quadra value, in the sense that it was done piecemeal, ad hoc, rather than in a more structured, 'paradigm-shifting' way.

The major historical criticism of Antoninus Pius, as a ruler, was that his essential inactivity in foreign policy, over a period of 23 years, diminished the respect, even fear, that Rome's enemies across the Danube and in Parthia (Persia) had felt regarding the Empire since being crushed by Trajan's aggressive wars three generations before; Antoninus seemed oblivious to this danger, or actively decided to ignore it, with the result that immediately after his death in 161 at 74, both the Parthian Empire and Danubian tribes, sensing weakness, launched major military attacks against the empire, forcing Marcus Aurelius to spend most of his reign at war. I would argue that that hints again to subdued F as well as T in Antoninus - I would assume he did not intend to hand a 'ticking bomb' to Marcus Aurelius.

Finally, in an even more broad-brush analysis of Antoninus's reign, there is how he wanted the Roman Empire to be perceived. We have the Greek orator Aelius Aristides's "Roman Oration", delivered to Antoninus Pius himself, in which Aristides describes a peaceful Roman Empire ruled as if it was one single city, and now "the entire civilized world lays down the weapons that were its ancient burden and has turned to adornment and all glad thoughts, with the power to realize them - - You, better than anyone else, have proved the truth of the proverb: The earth is everyone's mother and our common fatherland". Etc etc. Assuming, reasonably, that Aristides knew what Antoninus wanted to hear, he painted his rule, a bit naively, as the realization of a Delta ideal.

Overall Delta values, with no visible focus on E. valued R but not obviously strong; devalued or even ignored F and T; apparent high focus on S and P, little visible I, and an overall impression of a cautious. serene, even passive man. I think the available information, however limited, overall suggests most consistently that Antoninus Pius was a SLI.

Sources: besides Wikipedia, which has a good summary of the overall evidence, the primary documentation is the Historia Augusta's "Life of Antoninus Pius". Marcus Aurelius's description of his adoptive father are in books 1 and 6 of his Meditations. All are available online. Aelius Aristides's Roman Oration is available in its entirety here .

To learn more about SLI click here.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Donald Trump (SLE): Personality Type Analysis

Donald John Trump is an American businessman, real estate developer, book author, television show host and politician, who possibly will serve as the 45th President of the United States. He is the son of the late real-estate developer Fred Trump. Trump has a Bachelor's degree in Economics from the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, but even before graduating he was already working in his father's company.

Trump oversaw several high-profile real estate and building developments in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s, during a time when the city's economic future was dubious and investing there was far from being obviously wise. Trump's projects were often controversial, leading him to become increasingly a public figure, culminating with his construction of Trump Tower in 1983. That was controversial due to its (alleged) questionable taste; the - at the time - dubious business case for such a project in still-then depressed Manhattan; to the demolition of the Art Deco Bonwit Teller building that had previously stood there; and to Trump's increased use of his own name and brand to associate his projects with himself.

At the time Trump was in his thirties, and for an analysis of his type it is useful to take a look at how he came across in interviews of the time. Rather than the later, better known version, who is more inclined to rely on bombast, bragging, self-promotion and extravagant, controversial or even perhaps shocking remarks, the Donald Trump of the early 1980s appeared as a calm, rational, even modest man who showed little emotion or passion as he described in technical detail the reasoning behind his building projects and defended them against criticism, relying on factual, technical arguments (or seemingly so). At the time, Trump started to become identified with NYC's returning optimism since he (by luck or smarts) managed to invest there precisely at the right moment. His public image became that of not only a canny investor but also of a man who "believed in New York", and he explored that image in a virtuous (or vicious) circle whereby his business ventures became indelibly associated with his personality and vice-versa.

In 1987 Donald Trump published his first (and still most famous) book, The Art of the Deal. Actually penned by journalist Tony Schwartz, the book nevertheless is written in Trump's first-person voice and it seems clear that it reflects his own thoughts, words, and views (or at least the views the wanted the public to associate with him). In that book, Trump is still largely his 1980s persona: it is mostly his autobiography (focusing much more on his business ventures than his private life) along with his thoughts, and advice, on how to succeed in real-estate development. That book still reflected what seems to be his obviously deep understanding of that kind of business, as he describes in detail how he came to his decisions, but also with some more general principles: the notions that business deals are about knowing and using one's leverage (F); that intelligence and technical knowledge, or other talents, are less important than one's instinct about their own leverage, strengths, and weaknesses, and a belief that either a person has such instincts, or not (points to F as more valued than P). Further, at the time he was already professing his belief (that later became much more obvious) than even bad publicity is better than no publicity; that making extravagant claims about his objectives and goals, far more than he knows to be feasible, is very useful in building up his image (E blocked with T). He also wrote that another key to success was to always have several alternatives and fall-back positions when trying to strike a business deal, so as never to really lose (points to I). Finally, it is interesting that he seems skeptical of expert technical knowledge when making his big decisions; he prefers, as he says, to ask as many people what they think about a location (especially cab drivers), gradually forming an image of the situation in his mind until he's certain of what the best way forward is (this indicates L as more valued than P in my view).

I argue that the above is perfectly consistent with the core of the present-day Donald Trump, and already reflects some clear Socionics information. His early public persona clearly showed a man at ease with factual impersonal information when defending his business decisions, which was at first obviously a more comfortable "zone" than the appeal to his image. That strongly suggests that his P is in a stronger position than his E. Yet, his increased shift to focusing on E in public, as he got older, more famous and more successful, strongly suggests that E is a quadra value rather than P, which was already clear in The Art of the Deal: P is easy but taken for granted, while E is something he prefers to build up, aim at, and explore. His often-repeated belief that the single most important quality for business deals is to know one's (and others') "leverage", and that is further built up by one's "credibility" which is a consequence of success and the image of being successful, clearly points to F as quadra value and as a zone of great confidence. The above already points to Beta as Trump's quadra - having E and F as quadra values. His strong P points to a logical Beta type, while his focus on keeping several possibilities afloat at once, as well as his confidence in risk-taking and spotting real-estate potential before others shows a reasonable confidence in I. Finally, that Trump states all of that as self-evident truths points to L. All of that already points to SLE as Trump's type, a logical Beta with decent I focus.

"Present-day" Trump presents further evidence. He got into increasingly diverse business ventures that had sometimes little to do with his core business expertise, and were based exclusively on his image, starting with casinos, then into things like Trump Steaks, Trump the Game, finally culminating on the TV shows The Apprentice, Celebrity Apprentice and spin-offs thereof, as well as Miss Universe competitions and the like. I think it's fair to say that by the time of those TV shows he was spending at least as much time (if not far more) in this kind of image-and-celebrity business venture rather than on his originally core real-estate businesses. That again shows the shift from P+F (accumulating wealth through more "concrete" business ventures) to E+F (focusing on his image as a source of power and wealth, as well as probably an end in itself).

Finally, on Trump's most recent "incarnation" i.e. as presidential candidate. His tactics in the Republican primary debates consisted essentially of destroying his rivals through ridicule, by attaching to their images traits (real or not, that's irrelevant) based on perceived weaknesses and pounding on them relentlessly until they "stuck" (i.e. low-energy Jeb Bush (LIE), little Marco, lying Ted, etc). Winning a competition by ruthlessly destroying an adversary, even using what some might call 'low-belt' tactics. shows a focus and skill on F (especially as he himself seemed impervious to such attacks); and the focus on rivals' images - rather than their substance or record - shows again the focus on E, E+T in particular i.e. a broader, longer-term perception of an image, rather than more short-term emotional atmosphere.

Also interestingly, Trump's most notorious political promises are F focused: building a huge wall on the Mexican border (that is the materialization of F), being tough on external commercial rivals, foreign and internal enemies, etc. Whether he actually plans on doing any of that if elected president is less relevant than that he thinks that those promises are effective and plausible and will help him. In addition, the 'present' Donald Trump's focus on E as a political tool has been effective with many people, but they are also seen as over-the-top, or even repugnant, by as many more. This is consistent with E being in a valued function but not really strong (such as lead or creative).

Donald Trump is clearly a SLE and I think it's even difficult to plausibly argue for another Socionics type.

Sources: information on the present Donald Trump is almost infinite; his earlier incarnation can be found in older video interviews and in his first book "The Art of the Deal".

To learn more about SLE, click here.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Leonardo Da Vinci (ILE): Personality Type Analysis

Leonardo da Vinci or simply Leonardo, was an Italian polymath whose vastly diverse interests included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of paleontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. But how can Socionics shed light on this "Universal Genius"?

In discussions about Leonardo's type, it is often remarked how only a sensory type could achieve the beautiful detail and composition in his art. Given alone, this observation is not sufficient to conclude a type with strong S. This skill or eye for detail is trained by years of dedicated practice in the field. Secondly, a renaissance painter would not have worked alone, but would have had assistants. This was certainly the case with Leonardo. We actually know at least two of his assistants by name: Salai and Melzi. The danger we run into here is typing the job, not the person. The most telling thing about Leonardo is not what he does, but how and why.  

The "how" part of this equation is best solved through studying Leonardo's work techniques and habits during his painting of The Last Supper. Fresco was renowned at the time as the most difficult painting technique to master. The painter and biographer, Giorgio Vasari declared it "the most manly, the most certain, most resolute and durable of all the other methods". The key word here is "durable", and yet the mixture Leonardo used for the painting began flaking off the walls of the refectory almost as soon as he had finished it in 1498. But if it was so durable, why did it peel off?

In his letter to Ludoviko Sforza, the Duke of Milan, Leonardo vaguely concluded that he could "carry out ... in a painting whatever may be done, and as well as any other." Yet Leonardo did have a limitation when it came to painting. His teacher, Verocchio, never painted in fresco (but in tempera), and therefore would have been unlikely to pass down its secrets to Leonardo. Not only this, but he had also never worked on such a large painting. After abandoning several altarpieces unfinished, he was suddenly given the task of covering the north wall of the refectory with a painting fifteen feet high by almost twenty-nine feet wide. Despite all this, he proceeded to paint his Last Supper using an unorthodox method: by working with oils on a dry wall.

This deviation from the usual fresco technique, called buon fresco (“good fresco”), could give us the answer to our question. The Buon fresco presented many logistical difficulties, not least because the frescoist had only a very limited number of hours to apply his paints to his daily patch of damp plaster before it dried. This technique, therefore, had to be performed quickly and without mistakes, and major corrections required gouging out a piece of the wall and then re-plastering it. Leonardo, however, was a slow and cautious painter. If we are to attribute any consideration of artistic skill to S, it should be the naturalness and confidence with which the painter is able to capture the subject. He didn't pick up a brush until he had given careful consideration to what he wanted to do. For months, he would create the painting in his mind, makes sketches, and play with the placement of figures. Leonardo would have been unsuited to the highly regimented buon fresco technique, and would have been constrained not only in time, but further restricted to using only those pigments that could withstand the alkalinity of the plaster. 

Leonardo's temperament would have greatly influenced his decision to opt against buon fresco. His tendency, both personal and professional, to recycle a subject in various different versions, abandoning many projects once he had “figured it out”, makes it seem likely he lacked the patience for doing a large wall in this technique. The The fifteenth-century novelist Matteo Bandello, who observed Leonardo at work, recounted: "Some days he would paint from dawn to dusk without stopping to eat and then not paint for 3-4 days at a time." He also writes: "Many a time I have seen Leonardo go in the early morning to work on the platform before the Last Supper; and there he would stay from sunrise till darkness, never laying down the brush, but continuing to paint without eating or drinking. Then three or four days would pass without his touching the work, yet each day he would spend several hours examining and criticising the figures to himself. I have also seen him, when the fancy took him, leave the Corte Vecchia when he was at work on the stupendous horse of clay, and go straight to the Grazie. There, climbing on the platform, he would take a brush and give a few touches to one of the figurines: and then suddenly he would leave and go elsewhere." His inattentiveness towards both the maintenance of his surroundings as well as his biological needs, points not only to very Weak S, but also to a haphazard lifestyle consistent with I1.

So, where did he go? He have the word of a friar named Sabba di Castiglione, who watched the construction and finally the destruction of the horse, that "when he ought to have attended to painting in which no doubt he would have proved a new Appelles, he gave himself entirely to geometry, architecture and anatomy." Leonardo also had a reputation for having something of a fallible nature. He was called "daydreamer", "capricious and fickle" by his contemporaries, many also complained  about his unreliability and chronic procrastination. The Duke of Milan, who had also hired Leonardo to cast a bronze equestrian statue, wrote to Lorenzo de' Medici in Florence asking that Lorenzo send him one or two masters to execute the work, because it did not seem to him that Leonardo would ever finish it. Some years later in Rome, Pope Leo X became so exasperated that he said of Leonardo: "Alas, this man will do nothing; he starts by thinking of the end of the work before its beginning." His unreliability got himself into trouble with sponsors who had committed themselves to his projects, only to watch as Leonardo delayed for long periods, or worse, abandoned the entire project. This tendency of his to being distracted from his work by the latest idea that crossed his mind further reinforces I1. This also is in stark contrast to Thomas Edison (LSE) was seen as remarkable by his contemporaries for his work ethic.

When panting The Last Supper, Leonardo would known the risks of the al secco technique, where the color does not become part of the wall and tends to flake off over time. He would have already seen the deterioration of the over-painting done by earlier masters who sometimes used fresco secco over buono frescos to make additions and add colors they could not use when the plaster was wet.  Apparently Leonardo had faith in his ability to create his own adaptations of medium that would overcome the limitations of the secco technique and allow him to paint his “Last Supper” according at his own schedule.

It is time I explored more of the "why", or to put it better, what drove Leonardo's pursuits. In discussion of Leonardo's possible type, many cite Leonardo's inventions as evidence of valued P. Contrary to the general consensus among Socionists, it is inaccurate to describe Leonardo's genius as "practical" Few of his designs were constructed or even feasible during his lifetime and have actually been described by many historians as "fanciful": his ruminations on science and helicopters were a form of personal edification more akin to daydreaming than scientific contribution. His genius as relating to these designs are only celebrated today as they bear a passing resemblance to later mechanical inventions (such as Leondardo's armoured vehicle to the 20th century tank). Leonardo's sketchbooks attest far more to his wide variety of interests and his depth of understanding, which seems to suggest Valued I+L. The type often proposed by Socionists for Leonardo is LSE, but there is little evidence to suggest there being a pragmatic bent towards his inventions, rather that he was motivated by curiosity.

When typing historical figures, there aren't always good primary sources to use in our analyses, especially not those written by personally by the subject in question. In Leonardo, we are fortunate in that we have access to his notes. The best source to gain insight into Leonardo's worldview and motivations is "Thoughts on Art and Life", which is a collection of his musings spanning a wide range of topics including religion, morality, science, mechanics, politics, speculation, spirits and nature. There are 333 notes in total, containing a number of philosophical statements and maxims, in which he sets out the "eternal" laws which govern all aspects of nature. 

When reading his writings, what becomes quickly apparent from a Socionics standpoint is the degree to which he seeks to unite all his various ideas in a consistent framework. We have seen that Leonardo's approach to art was far removed from convention. His work is notable for being more akin to geometric analysis than to naturalistic expression. When writing on the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile in a contemporary note, he identified the lips of the mouth with the actual muscles, describing how they form a smile. "These," he writes, "I intend to describe and illustrate in full, proving these movements by means of my mathematical principles." With this process, he sought to unite geometric principle with physical form, secrets he shared with Luca Pacioli in the book De divina proportione (The Divine Proportion). For Leonardo, art was built on the scaffolding of science. He believed divine art emerged from understanding of its underlying mechanisms. Mathematics was the ultimate key to the understanding of the nature he scrutinized so carefully -- the key not only to mechanics and movement, but to all of science, including the biology of man. His goal of integrating experience through a mathematical medium, he attempted to achieve by an analysis of phenomena into what he called "pyramidal" forms of the "four powers" of movement, weight, force and percussion acting on the four elements of earth, water, air and fire (CA 151 ra).

Mathematics, for Leonardo, being more than a tool to serve practical pursuits, rather a goal in and of itself, certainly indicates rather than as a quadra value. His dogmatic assertions of principle and his practice of science provide more unequivocal evidence of strong and valued L. In Manuscript G, he writes: "There is no certainty in science where one of the mathematical sciences cannot be applied or which cannot be brought into union with mathematical principles." (Ms G 95 v) This is one of a number of such statements in his late writings. His belief in "the supreme certainty of mathematics" (W 19084 r) had been implicit in his early work, but it later provided the explicit foundation of his work in the natural and mechanical sciences. 

The diversity of Leonardo's interests, remarked on by Vasari as apparent from an early age, was to find expression across multiple arenas. His experiments in hydrology, aeronautics and even war, his studies of geometry and his architectural plans, his attendance at dissections in Pavia to understand anatomy, and his later hobby of collecting butterflies, as well as personal memos and creative writing including fables, demonstrate Leonardo's hesitation to stick to a single field, but a drive to constantly broaden his palette (no pun intended). To each new venture he brought with him and applied his general principles. All of this gives us a clear picture of I1 and L2 in the ego block.

But what of E? While at work on his various projects, Leonardo often relieved his boredom by amusing himself with pranks, for instance, attaching bird wings to a lizard, and inflating a pig's intestine so that it filled a room to "frighten the life out of his friends." According to Vasari, "He perpetuated hundreds of follies of this kind." On the election of Leo X as pope, da Vinci traveled to Rome as a guest in the Vatican. While there, he started playing a series of pranks and practical jokes within the holy confines. This inclination to liven up the emotional atmosphere points to valued E and perhaps Alpha values, and the inappropriateness of these emotions (especially breaking the solemnity of the Vatican) suggests Weak E, perhaps E6

When Leonardo wasn't working on The Last Supper, he walked the streets staring at people, looking for ideas for the faces of the apostles. He sat in cafes and watched people, observing the movements and facial expressions and sketching them in his notebook. He looked for expressions of surprise, pain, fear, and anger and noted which facial muscles worked to express these feelings. This fascination with expressed emotion is also very consistent with E6.

There is still one gap in this analysis. We have already seen how S was most likely Weak function, however, we haven't as yet established that this was a Valued element. Leonardo's love of nature is often remarked upon. Later in life, he recalled his formative experiences around his childhood home near Vinci, Tuscany, where he spent time appreciating the rivers and wooded valleys of the Apennine Mountains. This suggests Leonardo's S being Valued and part of the Super-Id.

In conclusion, the evidence explored in this analysis points to the Alpha values of I, L, E and S, with I1 and E6 accounting for much of his motivations, with L2 being consistently present in the general principles that linked his various pursuits together, and S5 in his negligence in maintaining his lifestyle whilst caught up in his projects yet appreciating tranquil surroundings when he was among them. All this points to Leonardo da Vinci being a clear example of ILE.

To learn more about ILE, click here.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Roger Corman (LSE): Personality Type Analysis

Roger William Corman is an independent American film-maker, mainly as director, producer, screenwriter, and studio head, active since the 1950s. Corman is mostly famous for the vast number of extremely low budget movies he made in a wide range of genres, mostly horror, science-fiction, adventure or comedy, and for having helped launch the career of many now very famous actors and directors, like Jack Nicholson (SLE), Robert de Niro, James Cameron, Ron Howard, Martin Scorcese and Francis Ford Coppola.

Originally Corman graduated as an engineer, but immediately decided to go into moviemaking instead, starting as a messenger in the 20th Century Fox studios, then quickly moving into independent film-making, Corman's consistent traits as a producer were a focus in maximising the efficiency in the use of scarce resources, re-using sets, wardrobes, and having actors and staff performing many roles and parts in the same movie. One extremely illustrative example of his approach is seen in how he came to make the movie "The Terror" in 1963: having completed one of his (relatively) higher-budget films, the horror comedy "The Raven", he realized that he still had three days to use that movie's elaborate sets before they were dismantled. Seeing an opportunity and disliking waste, he immediately asked an associate to prepare a script for another movie and asked two of "The Raven"'s actors, Boris Karloff and Corman's close associate Jack Nicholson, to shoot a few more scenes. The result was the movie "The Terror", mostly regarded as a low-quality effort with a plot that makes little sense, but which did make effective use of the sets before their demolition.

Likewise, Roger Corman shot the original "The Little Shop of Horrors" in 1960 in just two days, at very low cost, at the same time arguably creating the genre of horror/black comedy. Corman's 1990 memoir is titled "How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime". He clearly sees himself primarily as a cost-effective producer and studio head rather than an innovative artist or film-maker; in interviews, he is extremely critical of the trend towards hugely expensive movies, starting in the late 1970s, which he found even immoral since there were better ways to spend or invest so much money. According to co-workers, he would keep the business side of making a movie all to himself, but gladly delegate to others creative control in writing or directing. He was famous for allowing, even encouraging, members of his team to assume different responsibilities and roles, often in the same movie.

The traits of high focus on maximising the efficient use of scarce resources, while believing in, and encouraging, creativity in others, already points very strongly to P and S in the Ego, and I in the Super-Id. As the above anecdotes show, Corman's ultimate goals were P+S, the efficient use of existing resources, with I a tool towards those goals. In his approach to relationships with individuals, Corman clearly preferred to work with the same team over several movies, asking them to change or expand their skills if necessary, rather than look for new people according to their skills. This extreme conservatism in relationships with individuals points to valued but weak R, likely in the Super-Id.

Another trait that points to Corman's valuing of I is in his having been very active in distributing high-quality foreign movies in the US, like Bergman's and Kurosawa's, when nobody else was interested. He did that despite the relatively low potential for financial profit, because he thought that was an interesting alternative to his standard production of low-budget movies aimed at entertainment. Early in his career the produced himself a more serious and meaningful movie, "The Intruder", which however was of disappointing financial returns, making him more careful about such experiments.

Finally, as a person, in interviews, Corman consistently comes across as low-emotion, blunt but polite and friendly, only occasionally showing amusement or irritation, which points to E role.

Everything in Roger Corman points to the Delta values of P, S, I and R, and more specifically to P1, S2, E3R5 and I6. Corman is clearly a LSE.

To learn more about LSE, click here.

Besides his memoirs listed above, interviews available online and the documentary "Corman's World".

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Wilhelm II (EIE): Personality Type Analysis

Wilhelm II was King of Prussia and German Emperor (Kaiser) from 1888 to 1918, when he abdicated and fled into exile in the Netherlands,  at the end of the First World War. He has been considered one of the individuals with the most responsibility for the outbreak of that conflict; however, in contrast to Adolf Hitler’s (EIE) role in WWII, the Kaiser’s historical responsibility in WWI and his broader historical role, as well as judgments of his character, remain a source of controversy among historians, in Germany and elsewhere.

Wilhelm II can be regarded as the first, or only, 'true' German Emperor in the context of the German Empire as recreated by Otto von Bismarck in 1871, since his grandfather Wilhelm I showed little interest in exploring the potential and significance of that role, preferring to remain in essence a King of Prussia, and his father Friedrich III only reigned for 3 months, during which he was already dying of throat cancer. It is largely because of this that Wilhelm II is often referred to as simply “the Kaiser”, both in German and in English.

The historical controversy regarding the Kaiser’s role in WWI can be explained by two factors that lead to ambiguous interpretations: (1) the uniqueness of the imperial constitution of 1871 and (2) the nature of the Kaiser’s personality and character, which reinforced the confusion caused by (1).  The 1871 constitution was designed by Bismarck – the chancellor (prime minister) – to fit the precise circumstances of his relationship with Wilhelm I: the chancellor was the head of government, but could be appointed or dismissed only by the Kaiser, with no direct accountability to the elected Reichstag, the parliament. Yet legislation and the budget needed to be approved by the Reichstag. That meant that if on the one hand the Kaiser’s personal power was severely limited by his need to govern through a Chancellor, and with some cooperation from the Reichstag, it also meant that the Chancellor’s independence was severely curtailed by the fact that the Kaiser could dismiss him, in principle, whenever he wished. Still, the Kaiser could hardly appoint as chancellor non-entities that would just do his bidding as they would have difficulty getting legislation approved. To make the situation still more complicated, the Kaiser himself was the supreme commander of the armed forces, without needing the Chancellor, but the military budget needed the Reichstag’s approval. The Kaiser’s somewhat confusing constitutional position is not directly related to Socionics but it helps to explain his actions in the context of his Socionics type.

One of the Kaiser’s most visible personal characteristics was the inclination to give bombastic, off-the-cuff speeches (especially to the army) where he used extravagant warmongering language (“take no prisoners!” etc), and at least one interview (the “Daily Telegraph affair”) where he made seemingly outlandish, and definitely tactless, claims (such as to have personally designed the British military strategy plan in the Boer War, and that his increasing maritime power was aimed at containing Japan rather than Britain, although Germany was in peace with Japan, etc). Likewise, his surviving annotations on letters, reports etc are equally bombastic . In isolation, such traits show a person inclined to make aggressive,  extravagant and boastful remarks based on his emotions of the moment – especially since with the Kaiser, there was an immense distance between his words and his actions (but also because the latter were limited by the nature of his constitutional position).  Often his remarks were so over-the-top that they made others question his seriousness or even his sanity, as in when he addressed Tsar Alexander III as “the admiral of the Pacific” and himself as “the admiral of the Atlantic”, which only led the Tsar to think that Wilhelm II was nuts. Yet, by all accounts, the Kaiser could be charming, approachable and genial in his dealings with individuals, especially those of clearly inferior position in the social hierarchy, whom he tried to put at ease. This is clearly visible in the many surviving film recordings of his public appearances, on occasions such as visiting an orphanage or as a good-humoured old gentleman in his Dutch exile. Also, the Kaiser was perhaps the first major public figure in the world to grasp the value, even the necessity, of exploiting the then-novel medium of cinema as a way to project and control his public image, alternating between an approachable “politician” and a formal, dignified monarch, according to the occasion. All of the above traits point to a man with a prime emphasis on E. This is further confirmed by his daughter, who said that he had the gift of “making each of his children to think they were his personal favourite”.

His two predecessors as Kaiser, his grandfather and his father, were contented to abide by the spirit of the 1871 constitution and let the chancellor- Bismarck – run the government with nearly as much independence  as a modern prime minister. By contrast, Wilhelm II, upon ascending the throne in 1888, quickly started clashing with Bismarck as to who 'was really in charge', partly due to policy disagreements, but mostly due to the question of status (ie whether Wilhelm II could meet ministers individually without Bismarck’s presence). This led to Bismarck resigning and the Kaiser accepting. Immediately afterwards Wilhelm II had two short-lived chancellors who were neither as strong-willed as Bismarck nor as accommodating as the Kaiser would have wished, until he found his seemingly perfect match in Bernhard von Bülow, his longest-serving chancellor (9 years). Von Bülow was a master in running the government as he pleased while never challenging the Kaiser’s formal superior position. The above traits suggest that Wilhelm II was mostly concerned with confirming his superior status in political hierarchy rather than insisting on implementing specific programs of government. This further confirms the Kaiser’s higher focus on E rather than on P but also points to highly Valued F, as also the nature of his spontaneous bombastic remarks. All of that is even further confirmed by the Kaiser’s vast expansion and modernization of the German military navy: that was done through the Kaiser’s personal involvement, and was one of the reasons for the background to WWI, with Britain fearing that Germany aimed at challenging British naval supremacy even to the point of eventually being able to attack Britain directly. Yet, by all accounts, the Kaiser’s true motivations can be summed up simply as “Germany can’t lag behind Britain” rather than as part of a detailed plan or specific policy goals, which further confirm his higher focus on F than on P.

The above traits – a dominant focus on Valued E and F, less emphasis on P – already put Wilhelm II squarely in the Beta quadra. The consensus among all those who observed him in describing the Kaiser as rather hyperactive and energetic, besides extremely talkative, strongly indicate that he was an energiser/extravert, so EIE or SLE.

The Kaiser was known for being much better in getting policies started than making sure they were completed, except in some very specific cases such as the build-up of the navy, about which he felt particularly strongly. He was noted for showing strong interests in a variety of subjects, including technological innovation and archaeology, about which he would gladly engage in informal conversation. Most notably, he involved himself in promoting scientific research, technological development and education in Germany, sponsoring the creation of the hugely prestigious Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut (today the Max-Planck-Institut) and pushing for education reform in Prussian universities so they would emphasize what today are called “STEM” fields. Those traits, although not ruling out SLE as a type for Wilhelm II, do suggest a very strong and spontaneous focus on I, suggesting that that was more likely I8 (as in EIE) rather than I3 (as in SLE).

The Kaiser’s use of F was directly connected to his use of his position as Kaiser. Yet, when truly challenged, he could  find himself in situations  where he was not sure how to exercise personal volitional pressure.  Thus he found himself into a nearly-powerless position during WWI, with generals von Hindenburg and Ludendorff effectively running the war effort; and despite the Kaiser’s foreign policy initiatives having helped set up the background for WWI, in reality he found himself unable to stop it from escalating at the last moment. Finally, he was rather easily pushed into abdication and exile at the end of WWI, feeling depressed, by von Hindenburg. This suggests a much weaker F than in a SLE.

A Beta energiser with quite visible I, extremely visible E, and valued but not-so-strong F: that is perfectly consistent with E1, I8 and F6. Further, besides a vague belief in the divine right of monarchs, it is difficult to see in Wilhelm consistent worldviews or ideologies, showing weak and/or subdued L. All the evidence makes EIE as more likely as Wilhelm II’s type than any other.

Sources: my first views of the Kaiser were shaped by Robert K Massie’s book “Dreadnought”, then further by Christopher Clark’s biography “Kaiser Wilhelm II: A Life in Power”.

To learn more about EIE, click here.