a crisis of language / by mrm

" 'False statements' were useful but mostly superfluous because a peculiar system of regulation left much of the actual regulation to market participants. Rules about 'disclosure,' which specified that an investor be kept informed of any 'material' information having to do with a company's finances, meant that disclosures in a financial report could be buried in the footnotes and, with some clever wording, made sufficiently dull to ensure that they would rarely be seen as red flags . . . All this would merit the word 'monstrous,' except the adjective implies an element of excitement and drama, whereas this is a system that thrives on abstraction and boredom. According to the conventions of this system, the footnotes are more important than the main body of the text. Sentences are crafted so as not to be read. Language should confound rather than communicate. These conventions operate completely counter to those of narrative as we know it. To fixate on 'human nature,' . . . is a sentimental fallacy; it presumes that the problem is not structural dysfunction, the truly tangled web of politics and money, but individual hubris – villains who threaten an established order, a benign status quo."
– Jennifer Szalai, "The Banality of Avarice: Why the financial industry never had to lie," Harper's, February 2012