December 9, 2009
Complicated, More Complicated
The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Things are complicated enough. To read a book that is as complicated as the complications your trying to un-complicate… Well, here we are. Nassim Nicholas Taleb is some kind of a genius and for a while he worked for a hedge fund. That means he figured out all the complications of making money in a world of speculative complications. But then something must have motivated him to search for other shores to earn his keep. Obviously, the new shores Mr. Taleb found were not less complicated. This book reads at times like a power point presentation and at other times like a novel that wants to emerge from a cacoon. I think I had other expectations from this book–especially since I chose it before reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. Btw, I’ve since moved Gladwell’s book off my extended reading list. These books seem to be trying to rationalise the ills of human misbehaviour. I’m bored of them. Also. Since completion I haven’t retained much from Swan and in order to find questions that I think I need to have answered (about it) I have to open it up and review all the stuff I underlined or marked. That’s complicated. I think the main problem worst-writer has with Black Swan stems from the premise:
“A black swan is an event, positive or negative, that is deemed improbable yet causes massive consequences.”
In the context of this book, which is an attempt to explain the complicated world we live in, I couldn’t disagree more with that premise. No. Wait. That’s not right. The premise, I think, has nothing to do with the idear of a black swan in a sea of white swans. Wait. Is that right? Nomatter. I don’t like the metaphor or the premise. Even though I understand what Mr. Taleb is trying to do, he doesn’t do it with this book. And the reason for that is he’s too smart–I mean, too complicated. And worst-writer is going to have to leave it at that.