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Man looks in the abyss

Man looks in the abyss

I always liked this line from the 1987 movie Wall Street, by character Lou Mannheim played by Hal Holbrook:

Man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss

Seems timely.


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Besides this just being my favorite movie for its plot and Michael Douglas’ acting, this movie is gold because it was meant to be an argument against capitalism for Oliver Stone, and yet it inspired a generation of stockbrokers. Poor guy, can’t even get his propaganda right.

Plato’s cave.

And Oliver Stone was frustrated because this was a story about the rise and fall of Bud Fox (who was in every single scene) but the people connected to the villain Gordon Gecko.

As a stockbroker myself, I don’t see this as an indictment of Wall Street. It explored the gray areas of right vs wrong in a very sophisticated way without trashing the fear vs greed that makes market-based capitalism work.

And he included Mannheim as the voice of reason and, if you are in the business, is the model most of us pattern ourselves around, the steady player who stays in the game by doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

Stone’s father ran a brokerage that was used as the model for the movie so Stone isn’t exactly ignorant about the industry.

    Awing1 in reply to LukeHandCool. | July 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Great video, definitely made my day. If we want to require schools to teach something to children (not that I’m generally for that), this video should be required of every high school economics class.

      LukeHandCool in reply to Awing1. | July 25, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      Yep. I think I’ve sent it to everybody I know at one time or another (maybe that’s why I don’t have any friends now, LOL). The last time I sent it to our daughter in college, she emailed me back saying something like, “Daddy, you’ve sent me this three times already. I completely agree with Milton Friedman already!!!”

You do all know that this is a reference to something that Friedrich Nietzshe wrote, right? In translation, it’s “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

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