Monday, February 23, 2009


It looks like the stock market is channeling the ebullient, sunny-faced Walmart cartoon figure and is rolling back prices with a vengeance. I see that we are back to 1997 levels in the DOW. So much for our perennial bottom callers who were so certain that THE bottom (v. A bottom) was in.

I secretly marvel at the hubris that it takes to make such statements with such certitude--largely in that I have some painfully embarrassing moments in my life where I've been most wrong where I was most certain. It is also one thing to be certain about your opinion of the market when it comes to your own money; however, to express these opinions so that other people's money will become entangled in your arrogantly held views on the market is another thing indeed.

Book club was at my home this past Saturday. It was nice to be with everyone. We discussed the book The Ascent of Money. I do recommend your treating yourself to this book that provides an interesting historical context for today's events. There really isn't anything new under the sun. And our market and credit machinations are just one of a long series of busts. The only question is of what magnitude and duration.

I'm embracing a new book: Meditations on Quixote by Jose Ortega y Gasset. I've mentioned it when I acquired it. The first 36 pages were introduction that I read. I'm 45 pages (9 of the author's) into this slender 165 volume. There is considerable here to grasp. I hope that I'm up to it!

"We should be on guard against rigidity, the traditional livery of hypocrisy."

I find JOyG's writing to be full of phrases, sentences and paragraphs that are quote-worthy--much like his fellow Spanish philosopher, George Santayana.

"Man reaches his full capacity when he acquires complete consciousness of his circumstances. Through them he communicates with the universe". (p.41)

"I am myself plus my circumstance, and if I do not save it, I cannot save myself." (p. 45)

I know that this book has come into my hands at an important juncture in my life and the circumstance of the world---the circumstance of MY life. I think that this man's thoughts will help me build some perspective that will tie in a number of things that have been flopping around in my brain. And as I read what he is writing and reflect on it in a wide-eyed response to it as if I had opened a little blue box with some glittering inside, I realize that there is something of a moral imperative for each of us to acquire complete consciousness of our circumstances. I've never thought about it that way before.

Perhaps it is the wrong approach to take as I slip back into interested reader mode--wrong in that it may bias my understanding by placing a filter between me and his writing. But our filters help us make sense of things. I'll be on guard to ensure that my filter does not subject me to the sin of rigidity that he warns against.