Thought for the new year

Question posed in L’Intransigeant during the summer of 1922:

An American scientist announces that the world will end, or at least that such a huge part of the continent will be destroyed, and in such a sudden way, that death will be the certain fate of hundreds of millions of people. If this prediction were confirmed, what do you think would be its effect on people between the time when they acquired the aforementioned certainty and the moment of cataclysm? Finally, as far as you’re concerned, what would you do in this last hour?”

Marcel Proust, in a letter, responds:

I think that life would suddenly seem wonderful to us if we were threatened to die as you say. Just think of how many projects, travels, love affairs, studies, it–our life–hides from us, made invisible by our laziness which, certain of a future, delays them incessantly.

‘But let all this threaten to become impossible for ever, how beautiful it would become again! Ah! If only the cataclysm doesn’t happen this time, we won’t miss visiting the new galleries of the Louvre, throwing ourselves at the feet of Miss X, making a trip to India.

‘The cataclysm doesn’t happen, we don’t do any of it, because we find ourselves back in the heart of normal life, where negligence deadens desire. And yet we shouldn’t have needed the cataclysm to love life today. It would have been enough to think that we are humans, and that death may come this evening.”

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Seriously?


13Fs, and other public displays of his thought process [try here and here] reveal–perhaps–the mind of a type of man Immanuel Kant may have envisioned when he composed, embedded within a larger answer, the following response to the question: “What is Enlightenment?” 

For there will always be a few who think for themselves, even among those appointed as guardians of the common mass. Such guardians, once they have themselves thrown off the yoke of immaturity, will disseminate the spirit of rational respect for personal value and for the duty of all men to think for themselves.

And, following in the footsteps of Wally Amos (of Famous Amos fame), other distinguished gentlemen, and dare I mention Dan Quayle, Peter Thiel (of recent We’re so far apart with what we think it’s worth and what other people do it doesn’t make sense for us to have conversations’ fame) will speak about “Technology and the End of Politics” at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as the Burkett Miller Distinguished Guest Lecturer this Monday. 

[TheChattanoogan.com]

Kahneman, On thinking


Lots of very very good people went on with the missing parameter for three hundred years—theory has the blinding effect that you don’t even see the problem, because you are so used to thinking in its terms. There is a way it’s always done, and it takes somebody who is naïve, as I was, to see that there is something very odd, and it’s because I didn’t know this theory that I was in fact able to see that.”

—Daniel Kahneman [link]

Stephen Roach Op-Ed Piece


Roach reminds readers (ahem, the FOMC) that altruism is not the impetus driving foreign entities to fund our nation’s debt, and that
no nation has ever devalued its way into prosperity.” [NYT]

I like Jim Rogers, and not just because of this

Jim Rogers [video and text] says [Stephen] Roachcouldn’t even spell ‘commodities’ two years ago.” Roach wearily responds that, yes, he used to write “commodities” with one “m” before Rogers kindly set him straight. [vintage Forbes]