Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen & Ismail Kadare

Two of my all-time favourites appeared in today's NYT...one by his absence and one by his presence.
The op-ed piece entitled "This Economy Does Not Compute" by Mark Buchanan suggests that the theory that economists have relied on to explain market behaviour-the equilibrium theory-sounds great in theory, but is wanting in explaining or predicting actual outcomes. He then proceeds to discuss three alternative theories being explored which are all based on various computer simulations... "we’re going to need something more imaginative, starting with a more open-minded attitude to how science can help us understand how markets really work. Done properly, computer simulation represents a kind of “telescope for the mind,” multiplying human powers of analysis and insight just as a telescope does our powers of vision. With simulations, we can discover relationships that the unaided human mind, or even the human mind aided with the best mathematical analysis, would never grasp." I was surprised that he failed to mention the book written by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen in 1971 The Entropy Law and the Economic Process. If we are looking to the 'hard sciences' for help in explaining the organised chaos that is human behaviour, this book would be a great start.

The Balkan melancholy, or hüzün, (Georgescu-Roegen was originally from Romania) is furthered in the book review by Richard Eder of the newly translated The General of the Dead Army by Ismail Kadare of Albania. Kadare's books are like Franz Kafka and Jose Saremago on steroids......gloom, repetition, bureaucracy, angst, anomie, all set in the violence of the Albanian State and the violent nature of Albanian society make for stark reading, or to paraphrase Eder, we read about our deeper worst selves. To read more about the strangeness of Albania check out this story in a previous NYT "Albanian Custom Fades".

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