I ignored the markets for the most of today, although I did add a bit to my bullion position 'on the dip' as they say, and took a little off the more volatile portion of my short equity hedge. Today was a good day to avoid the noise and reconnect with the broad perspective.
I spent part of the day rereading Dean Church's biography of Sir Francis Bacon from my library. I first came across Church in references and descriptions of him from his contemporaries. I have of course read his Oxford Movement. He is an interesting man, and was a notable Dean of St. Paul's among other things.
This introduction to his biography of Bacon excerpted below struck home as somewhat emblematic of many of the figures of our own age, if not the generation itself, although I am quite certain that most of the public characters it might describe were not nearly so gifted as Bacon, being largely creatures of privilege, so they might not have sold themselves so cheaply or tragically as the great man did. They merely serve the system that raised them up.
Tragedy must entail the fall either from greatness, or from the failure to realize the greatness of potential. On the whole, I think Messrs. Geithner and Bernanke are fully valued, as they say, and then some. As for Obama, there is still some question, but it does not easily maintain a foothold. As for the rest, tools and cravens, soon and well forgotten as empty souls, dried leaves on cobblestones.
We are a people in need of moral giants but served, alas, by what we have deserved.
"All his life long his first and never-sleeping passion was the romantic and splendid ambition after knowledge, for the conquest of nature and for the service of man; gathering up in himself the spirit and longings and efforts of all discoverers and inventors of the arts, as they are symbolised in the mythical Prometheus.
He rose to the highest place and honour; and yet that place and honour were but the fringe and adornment of all that made him great. It is difficult to imagine a grander and more magnificent career; and his name ranks among the few chosen examples of human achievement.
And yet it was not only an unhappy life; it was a poor life. We expect that such an overwhelming weight of glory should be borne up by a character corresponding to it in strength and nobleness. But that is not what we find.
No one ever had a greater idea of what he was made for, or was fired with a greater desire to devote himself to it. He was all this. And yet being all this, seeing deep into man's worth, his capacities, his greatness, his weakness, his sins, he was not true to what he knew.
He cringed to such a man as Buckingham. He sold himself to the corrupt and ignominious Government of James I. He was willing to be employed to hunt to death a friend like Essex, guilty, deeply guilty, to the State, but to Bacon the most loving and generous of benefactors.
With his eyes open he gave himself up without resistance to a system unworthy of him; he would not see what was evil in it, and chose to call its evil good; and he was its first and most signal victim."
R. W. (Dean) Church, Francis Bacon