Friday, October 30, 2009

Markets are dead metaphors

From the thread to a post on Gifthub, this is worth reading a few hundred times:

Kia said...

We are just now witnessing the collapse of the markets. We may also see the collapse of "the markets" in another sense, the markets as a metaphor for life. Metaphors are not merely ornaments: they are very strange. For instance, the moment you take for granted that a metaphor is the equivalent of the thing it describes or points to, is the moment when that metaphor is effectively dead. It's worse than useless for thinking with. But usually people go on using such metaphors long after they've ceased to generate any new ideas--which is one of the things a metaphor is supposed to help us do. People will just keep walking on in the resulting conceptual daze, because to think about it is like looking at the end of the world. Some will invest heavily in re-animating the corpse and blame the demise on the usual suspects: the all-powerful and infinitely devious upstart poor and other outsiders.

I mean, maybe the market was never supposed to become the dominant metaphor of the content of human livelihood; maybe that's why it fails.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the system I see: I go to school for agriculture, engineering and medicine. I farm, build stuff and doctor the other person in our 2-person-system (the obese-lazy-butted-free-rider-lawyer, who's sole purpose is to eat, tweet, rule-over-me and receive free food, free housing and free medical care). No markets, no currency, just a lovely equilibrium filled with many laws to keep the order in tact.

10/30/2009 2:59 PM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

Given your description of the other, do you think there's enough tact?

10/30/2009 6:06 PM  
Blogger jonhusband said...

A lovely description of a street and neighbourhood based ecosystem of daily interaction and livelihood in Mexico.

Joe has a keen eye, and is tracking similar issues.

10/31/2009 12:47 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

No, definitely not enough tact.

Nicely done, but I doubt that Anonymous would get the joke even if he were to return. The invisible man in his story is the "marketer". I guess we are to assume that the market is an autonomous mystery that magically connects producers and consumers (who are hopelessly mingled in this story as well)

10/31/2009 8:40 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for that, Jon. It brings back wonderful memories of the market in Tepoztlan when I was there for the Open Money Mexico Intensive last March. The market and Sheri kicking a soccer ball around with some local kids in the churchyard that the market surrounds. Wonderful memories.

10/31/2009 8:47 AM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

I musta missed when Joe B. moved from Belize to Ajijic. Of all the places I went to in Mexico, Ajijic was the one where USian and Canadian real estate concepts - gated communities to keep out the natives - were at the leading edge. It's spread since. There was a core of gringos who had been there a long time because they loved the place - it once had a beautiful lake, and no gated communities, and what was considered the most perfect climate north of Venezuela, but those things, except maybe the climate, are no longer true.

But Joe's view of USia from there is pretty much that which one has when one is from USia, and is nearly anywhere in that country. The public jardins, the midnight tacos, the kids and dogs, old men and old women and lovers, stars that remain stars, not some modular policy option appended to the investment property USians think of as "nature;" where mountains remain mountains, Christs remain Christs, pilgrimages and cacti are as they have always been; a nation uninsured by suits against every imaginable liability for the simple price its soul, a place where men are unafraid to sing, burros unafraid to bray, hot dogs are unafraid of mayonnaise, and sushi fearlessly sports cream cheese.

10/31/2009 4:57 PM  

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