Lecture Drucken

Arne de Boever – Financial Realism

19:00MerveCrellestraße 2210827 Berlin
This talk looks at the representation of the economy in 20th- and 21st-century "finance novels". It starts from the peculiar fact that more often than not, finance novels have very little to say about finance. The best example here remains Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho: far from teaching its readers anything about the economy, it focuses solely on the psychosis of its main character, Patrick Bateman. Like the psychotic disavowal of reality it documents, American Psycho thus itself disavows the reality of finance—a disavowal that can be traced back, I show, to the novel's most important intertext: Robert Bloch's novel Psycho (on which Alfred Hitchcock's film Psycho was based). My talk then contrasts this disavowal of finance to the financial realism that can be found in a more contemporary finance novel, Robert Harris's The Fear Index. Meticulously researched, that novel offers a more realist representation, of today's digitized economy of high-frequency algorithmic trading. Harris's realism, however, runs up against a limit when it comes to writing what goes on in the so-called "dark pools" (Scott Patterson) of the stock market: a trading that literally goes faster than what can be humanly or technologically recorded. What literary realism would be attuned to what trader-philosophers like Elie Ayache have helped us understand as the speculative reality of contemporary finance?