Monday, June 08, 2009

17. Supermanship by Stephen Potter

Supermanship pictureThis is, I believe, the last in the -upmanship series by Stephen Potter, which started with Gamesmanship (there may be one last one called Golfmanship, that I'd love to get my hands on). I was extremely psyched to spot a lovely old Penguin copy of this book sitting on the $1 table outside S.W. Welch's. It's nice to know that there are still quality collectibles that can slip through the fine net of the internet market.

Supermanship is fairly unfocused, being a collection of brief applications of oneupmanship in a wide range of situations, some correspondence and some brief (and fictional) history of some of the major players at the oneupmanship institute. It's the same kind of humour, tons of subtle techniques to make the other fellow doubt himself. I particuarly liked the section on lecturemanship, which dealt with academics and visiting lecturers. It gave strategies for both the host (like wearing a short sock and then crossing one leg over the other and raising your pant leg, revealing your white flesh, so the audience is constantly distracted by it) or the guest lecturer (like turning to the host, making a particularly obscure reference and capping it with "as Professor Gates-Willoughby will surely know").

Some of the humour went far over my head, being very British and very much of its time. But it's a quick read, organized into digestible gulps (great for the bathroom), which is all I'm capable of these days. I'd recommend Gamesmanship or Lifemanship before getting into this more advanced volume. I'm very pleased to have discovered that a friend of mine actually has a copy of Lifemanship, so that will be 3 out of 4 in my hands!

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