Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reality vs. approximate reality.

Last night, as I so often do, I stumbled upon a quotation in a book I'm reading that made me think.

John Breit was a physicist who went to work for Merrill-Lynch as a Risk Manager before that firm's unregulated financial shenanigans and hubris brought it to collapse. "By the standards of a physicist, Wall Street was quantitatively illiterate. Executives learned "Standard Deviation" and "normal distribution," but they didn't really understand the math, so they got lulled into thinking it was magic. Traders came to believe that the formulas were not an approximation of reality but reality itself."

Maybe those sentences hit me hard because in advertising we do much the same thing.
We listen to 16 people being paid for their opinions in Cincinnati and we think they are reality. We see that the cool kids in Williamsburg are reality. We treat award shows and ad critics like they are reality.

Along the way to approximate reality we've forgotten life.

Anyway, here's Big Daddy's soliloquy in Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

"Heroes in the real world... hours a day,
not just two hours in a game.

Mendacity! You won't...

You won't live with mendacity,
but you're an expert at it.

The truth is pain and sweat...

...paying bills and making love to a woman
that you don't love anymore.

The truth is dreams that don't come true...

...and nobody prints your name
in the paper till you die."


Unknown said...

I hate to say it, because it makes me sound like an old fart, but words like those are rarely if ever spoken in modern movies. Worse. Despite a greater possibility than ever before to spread a word, we've come to use that enormous stage to distribute garbage. Have we as human, thinking, beings ever, despite all modern intelligence and technology, lived in shallower times?

george tannenbaum said...

I never loved Tennessee Williams like I love Arthur Miller, but the writing I included in this post (his, not mine) is indelible.

We are living in the shallowest of times. Our world is an Empire of Illusion. A tale told by an idiot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

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