Saturday, October 25, 2008

Celebrity Meltdown

No matter how hard reality bites the theology of laissez-faire, its blind disciples will cling to it. But when Alan Greenspan, one of its high priests, is gripped with agnosticism, it means that a paradigm shift is definitely in the air. Why has the former Federal Reserve chairman acquired divine status in the first place? Why do we cannonise fellow human beings so promptly today?

Taken in its most ruthless representation, the technology-driven era seems to offer few alternatives: embrace it or ignore it at your own risk and peril. Excess breeds excess. There seems to be no room for the middle path. To meet new spending patterns of consumers for whom time seems to fly, markets started promoting prêt-à-porter. Then came prêt-à-manger. And now, enter prêt-à-penser. Celebrity models, chefs and experts rule our world. The general trend for the last decades has been an obsession with pet theories. Worse, deprived of adequate contextual research, most parts of the developing world have simply internalised what are in fact aberrations. As like-minded people tend to flock together, they end up confusing repetition with self-evident truth.

William Easterly's White Man's Burden and Ha-Joon Chang's Bad Samaritans should provide the elusive hindsight to those who feel fooled and let down. For an even better taste of vintage "lateral thinking" and "thinking outside the box", Nassim Taleb's Black Swan might well be the ultimate pick. There is indeed a heavy price to pay when we let wizardry and punditry cloud our reasoning.


Sanjay Jagatsingh said...

A couple of local celebrities need some urgent melting down.

Sanjay Jagatsingh said...

This text should appear in the Forum section as it is given that we've stood still -- am being nice here -- for the past nine years.

SR said...

Charlatanism is as old as prostitution. One of their contemporary brainchildren is presstitution! Forum did actually publish the same in 2008.