Medium Post: The Merchandising of Virtue

I will always remember my encounter with the writer and cultural icon Susan Sontag, largely because it was on the same day that I met the great Benoit Mandelbrot. It took place in 2001, two months after the terrorist event, in a radio station in New York. Sontag who was being interviewed, was pricked by the idea of a fellow who “studies randomness” and came to engage me. When she discovered that I was a trader, she blurted out that she was “against the market system” and turned her back to me as I was in mid-sentence, just to humiliate me (note here that courtesy is an application of the Silver rule), while her female assistant gave me the look, as if I had been convicted of child killing. I sort of justified her behavior in order to forget the incident, imagining that she lived in some rural commune, grew her own vegetables, wrote on pencil and paper, engaged in barter transactions, that type of stuff.

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One comment

  1. First, as a fan of Sontag, I must apologise on her behalf. No one should be treated like that – too human.
    However, Sontag has been influencing and writing many a good people and spurring them to more critical resistance and engagement (the dialectics of reform and radicalism, eh?), in a world awash with mainstream nonsense, which causes preventable suffering. And Big Finance as an institution (not just as individuals) is a source of much the suffering.
    Sontag and others deal with issues like the effects of finance. While not basing their analysis on usury and its effects (i.e. no skin in the game with automatic “increase”), they resist the usurers.
    Hence I hope your book on Skin in the Game deals with the “productivity” of money (beyond Krugmans patient invester vs immediate consumer – see MMT crit by Keen).
    As such, Sontag has been on the right side of the struggle, and some magnimity from yourself may not be remiss imho.

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