William Gaddis in the Paris Review (1986) predicting the financial collapse of 2008
by Matthew John Cook
An old blog article from a long while ago that I thought I’d reblog because I quite liked it:
….I’m frequently seen in the conservative press as being out there on the barricades shouting: Down with capitalism! I do see it in the end as really the most workable system we’ve produced. So what we’re talking about is not the system itself, but its abuses, I don’t mean criminal but the abundant abuses just within the letter of the law. The essential question is whether it can survive these abuses given free rein and whether these abuses are inherent in the system itself. I should think it is perfectly clear in my work—calling attention, satirizing these abuses—that our best hope lies in bringing things under better and more equitable control, cutting back the temptations to unmitigated greed and bemused dishonesty . . . in other words that these abuses the system has fostered are not essential, but running out of moral or ethical control can certainly threaten its survival.
Gaddis and his interviewer, Zoltán Abádi-Nagy, go on to discuss his novel JR and its central character, a child entrepreneur who becomes a millionaire. In these few lines seem to be another hauntingly prophetical sentiment that I find deeply true and deeply uncomfortable.
What JR is about is a radically new situation from the point of view of the American dream, too, and radically new as a literary treatment of that theme: the novel seems to be about how the American dream claims you before you are socially mature enough to dream it.
Fine, yes, well put. Very much the heart of it in fact.