Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gladwell on Albert Hirschman

There are some terrific lines in Malcolm Gladwell's latest article, a review of the new Albert Hirschman biography.

I loved this on having the courage to live with doubt, rather than being paralyzed by it.
The phrase that Hirschman and Colorni would repeat to each other was that they hoped to “prove Hamlet wrong.” Hamlet shouldn’t have been frozen by his doubts; he should have been freed by them. Hamlet took himself too seriously. He thought he needed to be perfect. Colorni and Hirschman didn’t. Courage, Colorni wrote, required the willingness “to always be on guard against oneself.”
In fact, I find that self-doubt is one of my bigger obstacles to blogging.  It is one thing to look like an idiot in an email discussion between friends; quite another to express ignorant opinion in a public forum.

And I really loved his wife's explanation for why their family moved to conflict-torn Colombia:
On a whim, he packed up the family and moved to Bogotá, Colombia, where he worked on a project for the World Bank. He crisscrossed the country with, Adelman writes, “pen in hand and paper handy, examining irrigation projects, talking to local bankers about their farm loans, and scribbling calculations about the costs of road building.”
Writing to her parents about the family’s decision to move to Colombia, which was then in the midst of a civil war, Sarah explained, “We both realize that you should think of the future—make plans for the children etc. But I think we both somehow feel that it is impossible to know what is best and that the present is so much more important—because if the present is solid and good it will be a surer basis for a good future than any plans that you can make.”

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