Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Find me a lyrical economist

From a review in today's Times of a concert devoted to the work of Esa-Pekka Salonen:

(Salonen's music contains) "a recurring impulse to battle its own tendency towards lyricism, quashing a melodic passage in "Prologue," for instance, with a flatulent blat from the oboe."

I suppose "flatulent blat" is otiose - can there be a non-flatulent blat?- which just goes to show that non-otiosity (which may spell-checker says isn't a word) in writing isn't everything.

Would that we had economists with a tendency towards lyricism, to battle or not. Maybe some of Samuelson's history of thought papers would qualify, with elegant derivations undercut here and there with sly wit. Any other candidates?


Martin Langeland said...

I recall reading that he put the wit and clever turn of phrase in his work as part of the last revision.

Peter Dorman said...

The classic example of an economist who deliberately undercut his own lyricism was Veblen -- those bizarre words that would stop readers in their tracks.

BTW, Salonen can write some real headbanger music. Try "Wing on Wing", loud.

Anonymous said...

I have to second Gailbraith in the sense that he was a phenomenal wordsmith, but I'm not sure I would call him lyrical. He was so witty and quippy that lyrical seems too sweet.

Unknown said...

Sorry, this comment is not about this article, but rather the pictures at the top of this Blog.

Keynes, Veblen, Marx, Robinson and ...?

Who is the guy taking a nap on the end?

Dmytri Kleiner

Anonymous said...

i don't know if there can be a non flatulent blat. i suspect there can. but it would hardly be an unusual use of language, even in english, to reinforce an image with a "redundant" image. nor can i imagine why that would be otiose.

but i always feel sorry for people whose education has made their language use somewhat constipated.