Saturday, 8 January 2011

The Space Station - Chapter 2 - Page 7

Then the man raised his head and inspected Functionary in person. Functionary hoped that, in person, he gave a better impression than he did through his record. Somehow, he doubted this was the case and rapidly concluded that he came ready labelled by the contents of his file. He sensed he had a hard task ahead of him, proving his worth. For an awkward moment the man did not speak but continued to stare at Functionary full in the face. Functionary panicked that he was meant to start the conversation but decided that the Administrator was merely examining him. Functionary held his peace and, at the danger of appearing impudent, stared back the Administrator. The Administrator appeared to be what he almost certainly was. Despite his diminutive stature, the Administrator gave of an impression of power and rank. No doubt, this perception was partly feed by what Functionary had already gleaned of this particular man and his position on the Station, and what he knew more generally of men with the rank the Administrator had attained within the Service. Then again, there was the room, the large impressive desk at which the Administrator sat, and the bank of screens behind him. There was the lush carpet and what appeared to be furniture made from real wood. But, above all, Functionary felt that by just looking into this man's face you could get a measure of his nature. He examined the man's slightly tired and significantly care-worn face. This, reckoned Functionary, was a man who had worked very hard to obtain his position and who continued to spend almost all his time working or worrying about work. Success and rank had almost certainly brought him a wife and children, but for these he probably had little time. It was even possible that they had not come with him to this space station. Functionary feared that this was a man, who, through years of unflinching work for the Service, was stripped bare of any other qualities than those required to function and succeed as a senior officer in the Service. He would be a competent communicator not lacking in intelligence, a limited form of imaginative ability and an apparent humour, yet he would unthinkingly and ruthlessly implement the interests of the Service with an unreflecting single-minded determination and untroubled mind. There would be no empathy or sympathy for those possessing a worldview or mind, which had not been formed by and which did not represent the Service and he would only understand such persons in so far as a limited quality of understanding was required to control them or defeat them. This was a man who would lie and dissemble in the interests of the Service and his own interest within it, without being conscious of the failings in his own moral conduct. Momentarily, Functionary had reflected upon the conscience of this Administrator, but rapidly he decided that any conscience possessed by this man would largely be delimited by the interests and wishes of the Service. In so far as this man had a conscience that could be seen as; however slightly, separated from the concerns of the Service, it would be shaped by his interests to be well regarded within the Service and advance within its hierarchy. Hence, Functionary concluded that to think in terms of this man having a conscience, or an associated morality, was largely pointless and unrealistic. The Administrator’s actions, and the motivational reasons for them, could adequately be explained by the concerns and interests of the Service. One need think no further that of how the context of the Service structured this man’s every waking hour; all else would be distraction to this man. Ultimately, this was a man with little subtlety and few strata to his character. There would be no real surprises from this man and he would be what he seemed. Yet, in an ironic sense, this was a man whose career and experience paralleled those of Functionary. Functionary perceived that, at an admittedly more senior level, this was an officer who had found his career side-lined in a dim and distant space station a long way from the centre of things, both spatially and in terms of the networks of influence which bound together the Service and its individual members.