Friday, October 24, 2008

Moral of the bank crash?

Why the bank crash is an opportunity to think about the way we live and why

Jeanette Winterson

The Times 17 October 2008

I was in the electrical shop in Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire when I heard a man behind me say, “I've just popped in with my Goblin”. I didn't look round because what I wanted to see was a cross creature, 3ft tall, chewing the lampshades and pinging the toasters. I know he was really referring to a vacuum cleaner, but it set me thinking about fairy stories, especially as the present global crisis reads like a demented version of The Emperor's New Clothes mated with The Fisherman and his Wife.

We all know the one about the emperor walking around with nothing on, while everyone admires the finery of his garments - garments so fine that only really clever and smart people, such as investment bankers, can see them. The rest of us thought that debt, was, well, debt, but the bankers said no, debt is asset. It's just that we couldn't see it because we were so stupid ...
We had already lived through this story with the dot-com saga, when old-fashioned things like goods and services were worth nothing at all, and anything with a website address and enough marketing was the way to earn millions.

With the banks, the idea that Nothing was really Something was much more serious than dot-com mania, because the smart clever people who don't have time to read fairy stories didn't care that they were creating a monstrous fiction of their own. The Fisherman and his Wife is a lesson in greed - sorry, aspiration. A fisherman catches a flounder and lets him go, and in return the fish gives him a wish. The simple fishermen wishes for a nice cottage with roses round the door, instead of his miserable smelly hovel. When he gets home, his wife is ecstatic, they live happily for a while, and then, of course, she sends him back down to the beach to see if he can get a better deal ...

So it's a bijou Georgian house next, and after that a Queen Anne mansion. Then she wants a country estate like Madonna's, then a fancy palace in Tuscany.

On it goes, and the fisherman is getting more uneasy and the waters are darkening, but still he goes and talks to the flounder, and sometimes they have philosophical conversations about happiness and meaning, and when the fisherman tries to raise these things with his wife, she thinks he means a charitable donation or a night at the opera. The fisherman is lonely.
At last his wife gets bored with houses and moves on to power. She wants to be queen, then she wants to be pope, and yippee, it all happens. Then one day, when the sea is crashing over the shore, and the sky is so dark that the sun can't be seen, she tells her husband to go and find the stupid fish because she wants to be God. But the fish is gone. And the fisherman and his wife are back in the hovel.

Well, here we are, hovels coming up fast, and there will have to be a few conversations about happiness and meaning, though not in the nauseating David Cameron language of Gross National Wellbeing. This isn't a moment to let speechwriters talk about real things. I have always felt and often said that writers and artists need to be on the boards of big companies, need to be advising all these people who don't have time to read the simple stories that tell us more about human nature than any of the slew of management guru books written in the fantasy land of hyper-capitalism.

This shouldn't be a rush back to business as usual; it could be an opportunity to think about the way we live and why, and a time when everyone should be in on the discussion. If this is just about cashflow and net worth we have missed the point.

Yes, we need to stabilise our present situation, and then, perhaps, we could ask a really simple question - far too simple for the clever people - what is money for? At least that way it stops being an end in itself.

It's a question the stupid hero asks in The Princess and the Tower, where having rescued his bride, he is offered an island made of gold instead. His brothers have already given up the princess and taken the money - only to find that they can't have any children. In other words, the future is paralysed by short-term greed. Maybe it's set in Iceland.

4 Comments:

Blogger cai huanglin said...

caihuanglin20150410
ray ban uk
michael kors outlet
mont blanc pens
true religion
replica watches
pandara jewelry
michael kors
louis vuitton outlet stores
michael kors handbags
jordan 6
chanel handbags
ray ban sunglasses outlet
louis vuitton
replica rolex watches
jrodan retro
oakley sunglasses outlet
ray ban sunglasses uk
abercrombie store
fitflops
fitflop footwear
coach outlet
chanel outlet
chi flat iron
coach factory outlet
air max 2015
michael kors handbags
coach factory outlet online
coach outlet store online
coach outlet
michael kors handbags
retro jordans
michael kors outlet
polo ralph lauren home
hollister clothing store
ray ban wayfarer
coach factory outlet
jeremy scott adidas
polarized sunglasses
oakley sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet

4:00 AM  
Blogger Taibai Li said...

huangqihang0602cheap oakleys
michael kors outlet online
soccer jerseys
ray bans
air max 90
hollister clothing store
oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet
toms shoes
coach outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
abercrombie
oakley sunglasses
tory burch handbags
tory burch outlet
tory burch outlet online
coach outlet store online
chanel outlet
true religion outlet
kate spade outlet
pandora jewelry
burberry scarf
polo ralph lauren
michael kors bag
mont blanc pens
fitflops outlet
chanel bags
prada outlet
michael kors
michael kors outlet online
michael kors outlet
kate spade uk
kate spade outlet online
coach outlet online
gucci outlet online
pandora outlet
ralph lauren uk
ray ban glasses
kate spade
q

10:05 AM  
Blogger Lili Wang said...

20150720wanglili
michael kors handbags
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet online
juicy couture handbags
polo ralph lauren
polo outlet
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet online
pandora jewelry
pandora rings
reb christian louboutin
christian louboutin shoes
jordan retro 11
jordan 11s
jordan shoes
air jordan shoes
jordan shoes
new jordans
jordan retro 11
air jordan retro
oakley sunglasses
fake oakley sunglasses
cheap oakley sunglasses
oakley sunglasses
oakley vault
cheap oakley sunglasses
cheap oakleys
cheap lebron james shoes
kids lebron james shoes
lebron james shoes 2015
lebron 11

10:23 AM  
Blogger Mie Helal said...


Thank you for providing this information
http://www.kuwait.prokr.net/
http://www.emirates.prokr.net/

12:43 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home