Random New Yorker articles

just lost everything due to a mistaken key stroke, start over.
In China. 5am. Jetlag.

Read two most recent issues of The New Yorker on the flight, cover to cover. Some interesting bits and pieces.

Both issues featured either interview or review of Phillip Roth and his new book “Exit Ghost”. Reminded me that there was also a recent freshair interview with Roth on the exact subject. Here is an amusing quote from the review and used by Terry Gross in the interview. NOTE: apparently, Nathan Zuckerman is the character that Roth has been using in many of his books. In the latest novel, Zuckerman is in his seventies.

“Late Roth” sounds a little like “late monopoly capitalism”—neither shows much evidence of frailty—yet one can now see that a phase of work opened with his great, wild novel “Sabbath’s Theater” (1995), in which the struggle between the vitality of sex and the fatality of the body was newly acute. For Mickey Sabbath, there is a constant veering between what he calls “the fantasy of endlessness” and “the fact of finitude.” Roth’s work since then has returned again and again to these two gates of being, one ever open and one ever closing. Ranged against the fact of death, against the body’s decline, the “fantasy of endlessness” means the ceaseless, self-renewing male urge to have sex; it also means the Rothian need to offend and offend and offend “the laudable ideologies”; and it means the ordinary human desire, as one ages, to bring back the dead—one’s parents, siblings, spouses, lovers—and keep them endlessly alive, and thus to live outside time. In Roth’s terms, sex can do all this at once: it restores unruly and unbiddable life, symbolically immortalizing the self by winding back the clock of finitude. And the novelist, of all people, is supremely endowed with the magical power to bring the dead to life on the page, which is one reason that this work has been so consumed with questions of artifice and fictionality.
PARADE’S END, The many lives of Nathan ZUckerman. By James wood
The New Yorker, 2007-10-15 Issue

Another article is about a “blow up artist”, a hedge fund manger who lost tons of money during 1997 Thai stock market crash: Victor Niederhoffer, and he just lost some more during recent crisis in the subprime-mortgage market: Annals of FInance: The Blow-Up Artist, by John Cassidy.

Victor seems to be the exact definition of what a genius is:

[in high school]Niederhoffer was the president of his class, the captain of the tennis team, the star of the math team, a pianist in the orchestra, a clarinettist in the band, the sports editor of the newspaper, and a frequent contributor to Vanguard, the school magazine.

He has some interesting things to say about stock market versus classical music. Reminded me of certain conversation by a quiet dusty back shelf in the library of CCSF, many many years ago. 🙂

Niederhoffer doesn’t claim to be able to say what the Dow or the S. & P. 500 will do next week or next month, but he believes that over shorter periods—hours or days—there are sometimes predictable patterns that can be exploited. In “The Education of a Speculator,” he devotes an entire chapter to this notion, comparing the market’s movements to some of his favorite pieces of classical music, and juxtaposing pages of sheet music with stock charts. “When the markets are moving in my favor in a nice, gentle way—never below my initial price—I often think of the ‘Trout Quintet,’ ” he writes. “Another frequent work I hear in the market is Haydn’s Symphony No. 94. . . . Right after lunch, or before a holiday, the markets have a tendency to meander up and down in a five-point range above and below the opening. The pattern is similar to the twinkling C-major fifths of Haydn’s symphony.”

There was one paragraph about how to be a great trader.

“To be a great trader you need discipline. You have to have certain strategies that you follow, but you also have to have the flexibility to know when it is going wrong. And you have to know to never go beyond what you can afford to lose.”

Then i read to the end of the article and realized, at the end of the day, none of those principles described above means anything. “Great” traders took greater risk, and sooner or later they end up in trouble. that’s what a risk is. In the end, it is just one big gamble.

The third is a book review for “On the Road”, which gave me more insight in the real definiton of “The Beat Generation”. Not quite what i imagined it to be. I”ve never read “On the Road”.

In fact, the characters in “On the Road” spend as short a time on the road as they can (ha). They’re not interested in exploring rural or small-town America. Speed is essential. The men rarely even have time to chase after the women they run into, because they’re always in a hurry to get to a city. A lot of the book takes place in cities, particularly New York, Denver, and San Francisco, but also Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Mexico City. Even there, the characters are always rushing around.

The bits and pieces of America that the book captures, therefore, are snapshots taken on the run, glimpses from the window of a speeding car. And they are carefully selected to represent a way of life that is coming to an end in the postwar boom, a way of life before televisions and washing machines and fast food, when millions of people lived patched-together existences and men wandered the country—”ramblin’ round,” in the Guthrie song—following the seasons in search of work. Robert Frank’s photographs in “The Americans,” taken between 1955 and 1956 and published in Paris in 1958 and in the United States a year later, with an introduction by Kerouac, held the same interest: they are pictures of a world not yet made plump and uniform by postwar affluence and consumerism.

Now i want to reach both “Exist Ghoast” and “On the Road”…

Sky is getting lighter, the dawn is arriving… i think i’m going back to bed for a nap.