11 January 2008

Money, Fiction, and Dentistry

I enjoyed Henry's comment to my entry yesterday.

He said that there might be other occupations that would be even more challenging to a writer/dramatist than finance. There might, for example, be dental hygiene.

The comedian/actor Steve Martin has appeared as a dentist (though not as a dental hygienist) in two movies. He was the first sample of human plant food in "Little Shop of Horrors," (1986) and he played a much more sympathetic dentist in "Novocaine" (2001).

The key plot devise of the latter film was that since dentists have access to sedatives and narcotics with a street value, they are a plausible target for con artists -- in this case, involving the seductions of Helena Bonham Carter -- with the goal of obtaining materials for sale on the street.

At any rate, Henry's question was implicit. A lit-crit book about fictionalization of the world of finance does suggest that fictionalizing that world is a challenge, but it also suggests that its a worthwhile challenge. Why is it worthwhile? more so than the dental hygiene?

My own first take on the subject involves the whole question of managing other people's money and the fiduciary responsibility that entails. A mutual fund manager ought to be a boring sort of person -- I want him to be a bore. I don't want to put my money into a mutual fund and find later that its leadership consisted of gambling addicts.

But that latter possibility presents obvious opportunities for drama, much like that famously explored by Dostoyevsky.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.