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In two weeks time I watched all 26 episodes of the House of Cards. It captivated me. And in between I was several days in Sweden for an assignment and had Jim over from the US.

Francis manipulates himself to the presidency of the United States. He knows exactly how to play people. At the same time he and his wife are completely transparent in their relationship in a very refreshing way. In the second year they even have a one night stand with their body guard (kissing men in the States!). The next day they treat each other as if nothing has happened.

Everything he does is completely against my values and at the same time it bears witness of incredible “Presence.” If Presence is defined as “the optimal response to the moment,” then he is the man. In times of adversity, he leans back, reflects, comes up with a plan and is successful in getting another guy or girl out of his way. In the end he makes it to president: ‘Democracy is such an overrated concept.’

In Theory U we talk about “absensing” as opposite to “presencing.” But that doesn’t cover what is happening in the series. Francis is very present but he does it all to take revenge in a clever way. In contrast Arthur Zajonc stresses the importance of morality. That is closer to what we see lacking here. Arthur stimulates us to cultivate virtue to develop moral guidance. The character beautifully played by Kevin Spacey (I like it so much when he speaks directly to you as viewer) is not into that. But I notice some admiration for him within myself…


Set in present-day Washington, D.C., House of Cards is the story of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District and House Majority Whip who, after getting passed over for appointment as Secretary of State, decides to exact his revenge on those who betrayed him. The series also stars Robin WrightKate Mara, and Corey Stoll in lead roles (Wikipedia).

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