quinta-feira, abril 02, 2009

Certifying the nonexistence of elves

Um artigo do espectacular Michael Lewis na Vanity Fair que é citável de uma ponta à outra. De uma ponta à outra:

«(...) The best way to see any city is to walk it, but everywhere I walk Icelandic men plow into me without so much as a by-your-leave. Just for fun I march up and down the main shopping drag, playing chicken, to see if any Icelandic male would rather divert his stride than bang shoulders. Nope. On party nights—Thursday, Friday, and Saturday—when half the country appears to take it as a professional obligation to drink themselves into oblivion and wander the streets until what should be sunrise, the problem is especially acute. The bars stay open until five a.m., and the frantic energy with which the people hit them seems more like work than work. Within minutes of entering a nightclub called Boston I get walloped, first by a bearded troll who, I’m told, ran an Icelandic hedge fund. Just as I’m recovering I get plowed over by a drunken senior staffer at the Central Bank. Perhaps because he is drunk, or perhaps because we had actually met a few hours earlier, he stops to tell me, “Vee try to tell them dat our problem was not a solfency problem but a likvitity problem, but they did not agree,” then stumbles off.
Because Iceland is really just one big family, it’s simply annoying to go around asking Icelanders if they’ve met Björk. Of course they’ve met Björk; who hasn’t met Björk? Who, for that matter, didn’t know Björk when she was two? “Yes, I know Björk,” a professor of finance at the University of Iceland says in reply to my question, in a weary tone. “She can’t sing, and I know her mother from childhood, and they were both crazy. That she is so well known outside of Iceland tells me more about the world than it does about Björk.”
When Neil Armstrong took his small step from Apollo 11 and looked around, he probably thought, Wow, sort of like Iceland—even though the moon was nothing like Iceland. But then, he was a tourist, and a tourist can’t help but have a distorted opinion of a place: he meets unrepresentative people, has unrepresentative experiences, and runs around imposing upon the place the fantastic mental pictures he had in his head when he got there. When Iceland became a tourist in global high finance it had the same problem as Neil Armstrong.
There’s a charming lack of financial experience in Icelandic financial-policymaking circles. The minister for business affairs is a philosopher. The finance minister is a veterinarian. The Central Bank governor is a poet.
Alcoa, the biggest aluminum company in the country, encountered two problems peculiar to Iceland when, in 2004, it set about erecting its giant smelting plant. The first was the so-called “hidden people”—or, to put it more plainly, elves—in whom some large number of Icelanders, steeped long and thoroughly in their rich folkloric culture, sincerely believe. Before Alcoa could build its smelter it had to defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it. It was a delicate corporate situation, an Alcoa spokesman told me, because they had to pay hard cash to declare the site elf-free but, as he put it, “we couldn’t as a company be in a position of acknowledging the existence of hidden people.”
Back away from the Icelandic economy and you can’t help but notice something really strange about it: the people have cultivated themselves to the point where they are unsuited for the work available to them. All these exquisitely schooled, sophisticated people, each and every one of whom feels special, are presented with two mainly horrible ways to earn a living: trawler fishing and aluminum smelting. There are, of course, a few jobs in Iceland that any refined, educated person might like to do. Certifying the nonexistence of elves, for instance. (“This will take at least six months—it can be very tricky.”) But not nearly so many as the place needs, given its talent for turning cod into Ph.D.’s. (...)»

11 comentários:

jorge disse...

Astonishingly accurate and lovable, from beginning to end - and it did end!

Lourenço Cordeiro disse...

Muito cuidadinho ao postar coisas com mais de 2000 caracteres em horário laboral.

filipe canas disse...

O do Commie Ball também é maravilhoso.

brit disse...

Esperem lá, então a Björk não é um elfo?!

In the hidden place
In a hidden place
In a hidden place
We'll stay in a hidden place
Ooohh in a hidden place
We'll live in a hidden place
We'll be in a hidden place
In a hidden place

"Hidden Place" , Vespertine, 2001.

R. Casanova disse...

Atenção que o Uli Sequeira tem toda a razão: o Commie Ball é tão ou mais espectacular que este (também está na Vanity Fair).
Aliás, ainda não encontrei um único texto do Michael Lewis pelo qual não valesse a pena ser despedido.

Mais um: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/magazine/26neworleans-t.html

filipe canas disse...

E toma lá este:


é mais fraco, mas faz parte da obra completa e deve ser lido.

Lourenço Cordeiro disse...

O artigo é magnífico. Gostei particularmente da descrição do por-do-sol («sets with enthusiasm at 3:44 p.m) e da descrição do encontro com o primeiro-ministro. Ou da segregação por géneros (a propósito: o único islandês que conheci era uma estudante islandesa que para ganhar dinheiro para as férias trabalhava a recolher copos num bar onde era paga a 20 euros à hora - desde aí percebi que eles eram todos malucos.) Mas quem diz isto diz outra passagem qualquer.

Lourenço Bray disse...

Eu já conheci a Bjork num jantar de blogues. Mas foi mais em 2004 quando isso era moda.

ॐJohn disse...

Eu gostei particularmente de qualquer coisa como: "é claro que conheço a Bjork, conheço a Bjork e a mãe dela. As duas umas malucas. O facto de o resto do mundo conhecer a Bjork diz-me mais sobre o resto do mundo do que sobre a Bjork".

Isto foi uma citação de memória e uma tradução possível dada a avançada hora laboral. E já te falei disto há semanas.

pimpinelle disse...

e o que se passará com os banqueiros, que lhes dá para a poesia quando o barco afunda?

文章 disse...