Walt Whitman, First Artist of Finance (Part 1): Robert Shiller

Self-promotion and the acquisition of wealth, whether by financial or other means, is no crime. In fact, some of humanity’s greatest achievements originate in just such behavior.

One of the myths surrounding economic inequality in our society is that high incomes are often the result of selfishness and narrow-mindedness, rather than idealism and humanity. We tend to think that those in careers other than our own are fundamentally different kinds of people.

Personality and character differences are, indeed, somewhat associated with occupation. But we tend to attribute the behavior of others to personality differences far more often than is warranted.

We tend to think of philosophers, artists or poets as the polar opposite of chief executive officers, bankers or businesspeople. But the idea that those involved in business have personalities fundamentally different from those in other walks of life is belied by the fact that many often combine or switch careers. Consider a few examples.

Walt Whitman is one of our most revered poets, and his poetry is among the most transcendent. But he could not ignore more material concerns; he had to make a living. To do so, he turned to fiction — more marketable than poetry — and made his name with a commercial novel called “Franklin Evans, or The Inebriate: A Tale of the Times.”

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Original source.


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