"The so-called spirit is an all too ethereal agent, permanently in danger of being lost in the labyrinth of its own infinite possibilities. Thinking is too easy. The mind in its flight rarely meets with resistance. Hence the vital importance for the intellectual of touching concrete objects and of learning discipline in his intercourse with them. . . Without the check of visible and palpable things, the spirit in its high-flown arrogance would be sheer madness. The body is the tutor and the policeman of the spirit."
Jose Ortega y Gasset, Man the Technician (essay)
I choose that quote today because writing is the concretization of thought. Always best to do it under the effects of caffeine in the morning. If I did not have a blog, I would have never written my series on Hedge Funds and Systemic Risk--the singularly most important work I've ever undertaken. And while many were talking about the obvious issues underlying the banks and brokers and housing and the like, there was no serious discussion in the blogosphere about the impending systemic risk. My writing that piece happened--with great difficulty on my part, because of the underlying technical issues and obscure economic equations that were beyond my training and experience--because there was a great dissonance between the news that was being reported, and what I believed to at issue. That great dissonance was due to the great oversimplification (subprime loans) of the issues and the potential consequences.
I've a few other things that I'd be tempted to pat myself on the back for, but self-congratulatory remarks are never entertaining nor useful. Nevertheless, I hope your not minding that I made one. Rather than blather, I wanted to leave you with a quote that John Mauldin used. Having come to that conclusion in October of 2008, it particularly resonated. I think that it is a fitting close:
"It will therefore be crucial that you see the world anew. That means looking from the outside in to reanalyze much that you have probably taken for granted. This will enable you to come to an understanding. If you fail to transcend conventional thinking at a time when conventional thinking is losing touch with reality, then you will be more likely to fall prey to an epidemic of disorientation that lies ahead. Disorientation breeds mistakes that could threaten your business, your investments and your way of life."
-- James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual, 1997