It sounds like Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, isn’t exactly loved by the people working for him.
THE EYE OF SAURON
In a new interview with writer and podcaster Tim Ferriss, Zuckerberg confessed that people who work with him have told him that he has an inexhaustible amount of energy that can even be dangerous:
“I think managing energy is an interesting thing…
some of the people I work with at the company – I think they say that fondly – sometimes refer to me as the Eye of Sauron.”
Sauron, the chief antagonist in the “Lord of the Rings” series, is depicted, at least in the films, as a flaming, disembodied eye and a metaphor for evil.
But rather than focusing too much on the association with the books’ literal embodiment of evil, Zuckerberg honed in on a conveniently different interpretation.
He claims his new moniker refers to his ‘unending amount of energy to go work on something.’
They basically tell me: ‘you have an endless amount of energy to go to work on something and if you aim it at a certain team, you will just burn it’” .
In short, Zuckerberg is the kind of boss who likes to preside over his underlings with the same kind of intensity that could cast an eternal shadow on Mordor — if he so chooses.
Sounds like the kind of guy I would like to work for.. (sarcasm).
The work culture coming out of Silicon Valley often prioritises productivity and long working hours over a healthy work-life balance, so it’s hard to see this coming off as a compliment.
Zuckerberg seems to be aware of the potential harm his ‘Eye of Sauron’ could do, however, telling Ferriss that he tries to “diffuse” his energy and “manage my schedule so I can actually focus on the things that I’m naturally thinking about.”
Perhaps the satire piece released by Babylon Bee in 2021, All-Seeing Eye Of Sauron Unveiled At Facebook Headquarters, isn’t too far from the truth anymore?
This story resonates a similar vibe to when, early in his career, it was revealed Gates would memorise the license plates of every employee at Microsoft to keep tabs on them.
What is really going on in this hub of tech start-ups and corporate giants?
SILICON VALLEY AND LOTR
Zuckerberg’s comments confirm leaked memos in 2020 from the early days of Facebook, where an ex-employee recalls meeting the man himself and describes being shocked by his work behaviour:
It revealed the use of the term by Vice President of AR/VR, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, who also referenced the elf queen Galadriel in a piece published by The New York Times.
These are not isolated cases.
In fact, there is a strange obsession with the Lord of the Rings right across Silicon Valley.
The gaze has been used as the inspiration for video imagery used atop Salesforce Tower, which is the tallest skyscraper in Silicon Valley and has been lit up in bright orange as the Eye of Sauron each Halloween.
Famed venture capitalist Peter Thiel, meanwhile, has named companies after objects in LOTR.
This includes data analytics start-up Palantir Technologies, a reference to spherical stones in LOTR that allow characters to see events in other parts of the world, and venture firm Mithril Capital, which is named after a magical lightweight metal with surprising strength.
Palmer Luckey, co-founder of Oculus VR, took a similar approach when he named his defence start-up Anduril Industries, which is named after the sword used by the character Aragorn.
LOTR is a big deal for Alex Farr, CEO of Zammo, a start-up whose service enables clients to build apps for voice assistants such as Alexa and Google.
MORE THAN METAPHOR?
It is the metaphor of the evil that watches everything, a huge flaming and menacing eye: the Eye of Sauron.
While there are numerous interpretations of the eye, in the film adaptations, it acts as a watchful, menacing presence that looms over Middle-Earth.
Could this just be a harmless metaphor given by employees to their boss?
Or could the ‘omnipresent force that watches everything’ be a closer representation of the company itself?
Given the massive scope of Facebook’s presence in the modern world, parallels between the Eye of Sauron in the tale and the monitoring/database gathering capabilities of Facebook.. aren’t as far apart as one would think.
Further, could the obsession Silicon Valley has with Lord of the Rings stem deeper than an ‘appreciation’ for the series?
Tolkien, like his contemporary C. S. Lewis, embedded what might be considered Christian themes in his work, but in a far different way than the much more blatant Lewis.
Lord of the Rings deals with the epic Gnostic struggle of good vs. evil, light against dark, and also draws inspiration from Norse mythology and the rune-writing of Northern Europe before the Christian invasions.
Dr. Stephen Hoeller has previously drawn parallels between Tolkien’s work and Gnosticism — the early magical, shamanic form of Christianity that was stamped out by the ascendant Church and is still considered a dangerous heresy by both Catholics and Protestants today.
Gnosticism deals with the direct communion of the soul with the divine by what might be considered theurgic magic, ritual or even sorcery.
A key Gnostic belief, for instance, presents a distinction between the highest “unknowable God” (or Supreme Being) and the Demiurgic “creator” of the material.
It is a deity who fashions the physical world in the light of eternal ideas.
Are the ‘tech wizards’ of Silicon Valley also fashioning the world in the image of an external vision?
Make sure to leave your thoughts below!
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