New Ideas From Dead Political Systems

by Daniel on June 2, 2012

Back in the days before I had realised that a guy who takes five years to deliver a simple book review probably ought to rein in the ambition a bit when it comes to larger-scale projects, I occasionally pitched an idea to publishers of management books. It was going to be called “Great Ideas From Failed Companies”, the idea being that when you have the perspective of the entire history of a corporate story, you’re probably going to get a more honest appraisal of its strengths and weaknesses, and that although companies like Enron, Northern Rock and Atari clearly had major problems, they quite likely also had some good points too, or how did they ever get so big in the first place?
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You Are Alone, In a Dark Wood. Now Cope

by Henry Farrell on June 2, 2012

Francis Spufford’s earlier semi-autobiographical book on childhood and reading, _The Child that Books Built_, talks about fairytales. It tells us about Propp, Bettelheim and the others, relates fairy tales to Robert Holdstock’s Ryhope Wood (the _ur_ source of all stories) and to his own childhood, and finishes by arguing that fairytales pose a challenge. They transport us to a dark wood; alien; removed from the comfortable assumptions of home and family and ask: now: what do you do? _Red Plenty_ is explicitly written as a fairytale in which the hero is “the idea of red plenty as it came hopefully along the high road.” The high road dwindles into a path, then a track, and ends in a tangle of brambles and thorns. The idea not only does not know where to go; it does not know if there’s anywhere left that it _could_ go, or even whether there _was_ somewhere that it could have gone had it only taken the right road at the beginning. By entering the world, it’s become hopelessly ensnared in it.

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