"Be brave but never take chances"
December 13, 2014 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Jackson Lears is interviewd by Public Books on The Confidence Economy
Absolutely, the confidence games take the form of their setting. In capitalist settings, it’s multivalent. Not only does one need confidence to trust the merchant who’s selling you an item, but the merchant needs confidence to start his own business, he needs it to invest, and the market needs it to be propelled forward. Of course we’re sitting here talking about this in the shadow of the banking crisis and recession! The cultural feature we’re talking about may be common to human interaction, no matter the specific setting, but those specific settings—a Mississippi River steamboat in the the mid-nineteenth century, or Catholic Italy a half millennium before—give form to its expression.

Rolling the Dice: An Interview with Jackson Lears
There were a lot of different streams that came together in this book. Since my first book, No Place of Grace, I have thought seriously about the cultural longing for transcendence that survived the economic rationality of the nineteenth century. I perceived that there was some kind of longing for grace that animated the impulse to gamble, and once I had hit on that hunch I began to find evidence of it everywhere. I began to see that there were connections between the gambler's dice and the soothsayer's bones. The gambler and the diviner were brothers under the skin. This led me to situate gambling in the midst of what I call a culture of chance, which includes all sorts of rituals and practices that use chance as a way of knowing or a way of trying to discern the will of the cosmos, the meaning of the universe, or even—in the case of Calvinist casting of lots—the will of God.
Get Happy!! For Margaret Thatcher as for today’s happiness industry, there is no such thing as society.
posted by the man of twists and turns (3 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
viz. credit (n.) ultimately from past participle of credere "to trust, entrust, believe".
posted by lalochezia at 12:08 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

These look very interesting.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:55 PM on December 13, 2014

These remind me of the once-common phrase "playing the market" for what is now called "investing in stocks," a game formerly indulged in only by the luxury-drunk super-wealthy. Risky speculation was seen as gambling, and therefore frivolous. Now it is mandatory if you are to retire at all, and therefore responsible.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:24 PM on December 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

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