Sunday, September 26, 2010

Black Swan



Thom Yorke wrote a song called "Black Swan" that resonated with me in terms of the financial crisis of 2008-2009 (and today) commonly called "The Great Recession". He wrote the song in 2006.

The "Black Swan" was a metaphor used by Taleb in his excellent book "Fooled by Randomness". The point of that book (broadly stated) is that people under estimate randomness and long-tail events; Taleb is an options trader specializing in the valuation of far-out-of-the-money options and whether or not they are fairly priced. The metaphor specifically for the Black Swan is that no one ever anticipated that there was a black swan; all swans were expected to be white and it would be viewed as a very remote or unanticipated event if a "black" swan were to turn up.  When settlers reached Australia, however, they were surprised to find black swans, meaning that they had significantly under-estimated the probability of this event occurring.

While you can't directly tie art to a particular business concept I liked the part of being "ground in the bitumen" and then general feeling of being lost and angst that is summarized as "this is f*cked up, f*cked up".

From the lyrics of the Thom Yorke song...

What will grow crooked, you can't make straight
It's the price that you gotta pay
Do yourself a favour and pack your bags
Buy a ticket and get on the train
Buy a ticket and get on the train

Cause this is f*cked up, f*cked up
Cause this is f*cked up, f*cked up

People get crushed like biscuit crumbs
And lay down in the bitumen
You have tried your best to please everyone
But it just isn't happenin
No, it just isn't happenin

And that is f*cked up, f*cked up
And this is f*cked up, f*cked up
This your blind spot, blind spot
It should be obvious, but it's not.
But it isn't, but it isn't

You cannot kickstart a dead horse
You just crush yourself and walk away
I don't care what the future holds
'Cause I'm right in your arms today
With your fingers you can touch me

I am your black swan, black swan
But I made it to the top, but I made it to the top
And this is f*cked up, f*cked up

You are f*cked up, f*cked up
This is f*cked up, f*cked up

Be your black swan, black swan
I'm for spare parts, broken up

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

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