Sunday, August 06, 2006

caveat lector

Perhaps proving that bookworms and peliculists (is there a word to describe movie junkies?) have more fun than everyone else...

Page 62 of Ken MacLeod's The Cassini Division pays homage to Oskar Lange:
"the (almost deserted) great hall of the Central Planning Board with its golden statue of Mises... Alas for plans."

As I learned from the last quarterly journal of Austrian Economics (and as I subsequently found quoted in this article written by the esteemed BK Marcus), Oskar Lange paid mocked homage to Mises in a 1936 response to the arguments of Professor Hayek and Robbins. Lange said, "socialists have certainly good reason to be grateful" to Mises for forcing them to "recognize the importance of an adequate system of economic accounting to guide the allocation of resources in a socialist economy." He even suggested that a "statue of Professor Mises ought to occupy an honorable place in the great hall of the ... Central Planning Board of a socialist state" in "recognition of the great service rendered by him" to the theory and practice of socialism.

In Alastair Reynold's Century Rain, Casablanca-ish similarities abound. Dialog such as
"stick my neck out" (page 116), "the beginning of a beautiful friendship" (page 457) and "We'll always have Paris" (page 496)
are clear references to the film noir classic, most probably to invoke a direct comparison of Floyd and Auger, the story's protagonists to Bogart and Bergman.

The story's love triangle, the lifelike characters whom exude multi-dimensionality, make this book stand apart from your typical space opera, the like of which so often contain the hackneyed panel of shallow caricatures. You can practically sense the murkiness of the cigarette smoke in this sci-fi turned silver screen whodunit?.

A rather shallow reference though is the story's human faction known as the "Slashers", an allusion any /.'er worth his salt has got to be brain dead to miss.

Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love is loaded, yes, loaded with semi-esoteric concepts, intimately familiar to Austrians or other studied libertarians. Perhaps its not what you would call jocular material, but I still appreciated those juicy bits with a suppressed chuckle of amusement.

Lazarus Long, the main character, is one part John Galt, one part Ragnar Danneskjold, and three parts a lecherous, licentious, and lascivious old man. I'm pretty sure I've seen it written somewhere that Heinlein identified himself with this character's espoused ideologies; methodological and egotistical individualism, vigilante/private justice, and -- catch your breath -- liberal usage of the reproductive organs with others, including one's immediate family, animals, and even his own clone. (For further reading of Heinlein's views on sexual taboos, see Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, or I Will Fear No Evil. Especially the latter book.)

Observe some choice dialogue:
"I don't feel well, yet I can't die. So I'm stuck between the suicide switch and giving in for the full treatment... the donkey that starved between two piles of hay."
Buridan's Ass-- page 14.

"Ernie, where is the money?
"What money duke?"

"'What money??!' Why these account books show that you've taken in thousands and thousands of dollars. Your own trading post shows a balance of nearly a million. And I know you've been collecting mortgage payments on three or four dozen farms -- and haven't loaned hardly anything for a year or more. That's been one of the major complaints, Ernie, why the selectmen just had to act -- all that money going into the bank and none coming out. Money scarce everywhere. So where's the money, man?"

"I burned it" Gibbons answered cheerfully.

"Certainly. It was piling up and getting too bulky. I didn't dare keep it outside the safe even though we don't have much theft here -- if somebody stole it, it could ruin me. So far the past three years, as money came into the bank, I've been burning it. To keep it safe"

"Good God!"
"What's the trouble, Duke. It's just wastepaper"
"'Wastepaper? It's money "

"What is 'money' Duke? Got any on you? Say a ten-dollar bill?" Warwick, still looking shocked, dug out one. "Read it, Duke " Gibbons urged. "Never mind the fancy engraving and the pretty paper that can't be made here as yet -- read what it says "

"It says it's ten dollars "
"So it does. But the important part is where it says the bank will accept that note at face value in payment of debts to the bank " Gibbons took out of his sporran a thousand dollar banknote, set fire to it while Warwick watched in horrible fascination. Gibbons rubbed the char off his fingers.

"Wastepaper, Duke as long as it's in my possession. But if I let it get into circulation, it becomes my IOU that I must honor. Half a moment while I record that serial number; I keep track of what I burn so that I know how much is still in circulation. Quite a lot, but I can tell you to the dollar. Are you going to honor my IOU's? And what about debts owed to the bank? Who gets paid? You? Or me?

Warwick look baffled. "Ernie, I just don't know. Hell, man, I'm a mechanic by trade. But you heard what they said at the meeting "

"Yeah, I heard. People always expect a government to work miracles -- even people who are fairly bright other ways. Let's lock up this junk and go over to the Waldorf and have a beer and discuss it "
Banking and Currency theory -- page 272.

There are a couple more, I'm sure of it, but I don't have the book around at the moment; and by golly, there is always another day for that to be explored further.


bkmarcus said...

Keep'm comin'!

jomama said...

One of my all time favorites, Time Enough for Love.