10 January 2008
Money in Fiction
It's a great subject for a book. When you encounter a character in a work of fiction who is identified as a banker, or as the CEO of a company, the identification often serves merely as a lazy tag, a slightly more specific way of saying "rich guy."
Some occupations just seem to naturally give themselves to literary or dramatic treatment better than others. Trial lawyers (barristers, not office-bound solicitors) are an obvious example. They win or they lose. Their client gets the jackpot or is left destitute. On the criminal side, the client walks free, or is locked up.
Journalism, too, lends itself to literature. The 1928 Broadway comedy The Front Page continues to be re-incarnated. All The President's Men doesn't work very well as an explanation of what was going on in the Nixon administration, but it does make for a good yarn about two reporters' efforts to find out what was going on -- a different theme altogether.
Then there's the occupation of soldiering, which is rather too easily dramatized. It has famously been described as days of tedium punctuated by moments of horror. The temptation, in writing about it, is to leave out the days of tedium and write about the moments of horror. The really great authors in this field can make fine prose out of the days-of-tedium aspect of the situation as well.
What about finance? speculation? fictionalizing the nitty-gritty of it while preserving the drama is a challenge, and this I presume is what drew Marsh: the meta-challenge of describing that challenge.
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.