The Devil's Dictionary Of Wall Street by Michael SilversteinAmbrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary was a delightful collection of quirky definitions, naughty verse and satirical pieces skewering an overblown and profoundly corrupt Gilded Age. Michael Silverstein's new The Devil's Dictionary Of Wall Street applies the same approach to today's overblown markets and their puffed up denizens. Its hun More
The Devil's Dictionary is a classic of misanthropic American literature. It was written in bits and pieces between 1881 and 1906 by Ambrose Bierce, a well-known social ciitic, short story writer, editor, columnist, gossip, arbiter of West Coast taste, and all-purpose cynic.
At a time when most Americans were exhibiting an almost pathological positivism, Bierce, and his great contemporary, Mark Twain, were taking an opposite tack. The result was some of the most truthful and incisive (which is to say derisive and satirical) word-smithing ever spawned by a New World culture.
Parts of Bierce's Devil's Dictionary have been consciously and unconsciously plagiarized by social commentators ever since. One important part of the human comedy in which he was largely silent, however, was the realm of finances.
Had this deep-seeing man with a pronounced desire to tweak the noses of the powerful lived in our own time, he doubtless would have favored us with many more definitions in this realm. I have attempted to do so with this new Devil's Dictionary Of Wall Street.
This book contains more than two hundred quirky, Bierce-inspired financial definitions. Bierce also used satirical verse in his pretension busting. I have included my own verse, some from my time as National Public Radio's "Wall Street Poet," and added to since in other media.
Bierce also employed a fictional persona whose commentaries were especially disrespectful toward those in power — Father Gassalasca Jape, S.J. My own fictional persona, who plays this role vis-a-vis Wall Street and its denizens, is Selig Cartwright, a Goldman Sachs washroom attendant. Selig already has a large following, having appeared often on my own blog and been picked up by literally scores of other websites as well.
Ambrose, wherever you are, this one's for you, baby. The hand that mocks them and the heart that feeds is still mocking and feeding. And deserving Wall Street targets proliferate by the hour.