Sunday, October 02, 2011

Exile on Wall Street

Although my grousing has cut back some, I continue write a lot (maybe 200-250 pages a year) in both a professional and semi-professional mode, but it's in large part sort of fragmentary and concerning things that I only kind of care about, so I often wonder what I'd write a book about if I had time and energy to write a book. The big immediate if dreadfully boring topic is the challenge of staying focused on earning a living, but also the intermittent push and pull of life in and around financial markets.  On the one hand, as my buddy Jim, who writes marketing stuff for a big bank, said so well, "the American and world economy is so infinitely complex and fascinating," and one could really spend one's whole life reading and thinking about it without dying intellectually.

The problem, of course, is that there is so much else in the world that's also not only interesting, but compelling. There's morality, ethics, mortality too. Which is not to say that being homo economicus is necessarily immoral or even amoral. But I don't think there's an easy answer to that question , which is really just one facet of a bigger one: what is one (or, specifically, what am I) supposed to do with one's life?  And the only way to have a perspective on it is by stepping back from the life financial and looking at it.

And, yes, family and leisure are what's supposed to give us that, but you need a little more even. And that's where culture and just Being in the Social World come into play.  Doing things for others, seeing how other people live, reading novels, etc. To say nothing of soccer and snoozing and cupcakes.

And so, I sense that one day I will write a book.  But, I think, what will it be about, and what will I name it.  If I were to name it based on my current condition, the best title that comes to mind is Exile on Wall Street, the sense of being trapped in the world of money, markets, and, yes, technology, because I have to be.

But then I google that title and find that, lo and behold, it has already been claimed by the ever-energetic banking analyst Michael Mayo, whose book is coming out this November and, in fact, sounds like it's gonna be a good one.

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