Thursday, March 01, 2012

Or You Can Turn the Page...

Okay, you've got two choices.  You can (as I just did) fire up your noise machine and audioread the Economist special section on "Financial Innovation" (link here, et seq,).  Or you can skip it and go directly to Yves Smith's blog where Satyajit Das wades in with guns blazing.  Let's just say that when you begin a critique by calling the subject publication "Pravda," you're probably not in for a detached and muted evaluation.  Yet the odd thing about Das' fisking/deconstruction/rant is that it is surprisingly fair-minded given its tone.   Das doesn't exactly pause to articulate his adversary's best arguments but he does take time to specify exactly what he takes exception to and why: you can pretty much back-engineer the original from there. 

I don't have time or inclination to umpire this one in detail, but I must say this: one the one hand, I think the Economist's tone is perhaps a tad less celebratory than Das would make out.  On the other, there is something about the near-facetious jauntiness--very close to self-parody--of the Economist's standard style that does make the non-alert reader believe that all's right with the world.  Could it be that the Economist  has become like Time magazine as it passed its perihelion: no longer the Economist itself, but an increasingly weird and quirky imitation of the Economist.    I'm remembering how, it is said, Charlie Chaplin entered a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest and placed second.

On Woolcott Gibbs' immortal parody of the Time style, go here.  That's the one that gave us the best single parody line ever: backward ran sentences until reeled the mind.  Or, maybe it's just time for an Economist bad writing contest, a la Bulwer Lytton, etc.  

1 comment:

Ebenezer Scrooge said...

It's easy to say good things about The Economist. Unfortunately, to the extent that these things are true, they tend not to be so nice. For example:

- The Economist writes about complex topics in a self-confident and breezy style.

-The Economist is the best bridge between an Ayn Rand devotee and reality.

- The Lexington writer for the Economist surpasses Joseph Conrad. He decamped from a goat farm in Berzerkistan three weeks ago, and already knows how to write excellent English prose. I hope he will soon learn how to read, speak, and listen in the language of his strange new culture.