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Nobel Prize In Economics Diminishes All Other Nobel Prizes

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Robert Vienneau

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Dec 16, 2004, 5:18:59 AM12/16/04
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Dagens Nyheter, 10 December 2004

"The Nobel prize in economics diminishes the value of all other Nobel
prizes"

A member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences proposes that the
prize in economics should be broadened in scope or abolished. The prize
in economic sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel is most frequently
awarded to economists who, by using mathematics and disregarding
political views, claim that they can prove optimal ways of organizing
society. These attempts at mimicking the objectivity and methods of the
natural sciences are not acceptable. The economics prize diminishes the
value of the other Nobel prizes. If the prize is to be kept, it must be
broadened in scope and be disassociated with Nobel. This is the view of,
among others Peter Jagers, professor of mathematics who is also a
member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Science who awards the prize.


In the early 1960s, a group of university mathematics teachers in
Gothenburg used to go to a certain café to play pinball. Surely, you
know the game? It's played on one of those machines that coughs up a
number of steel balls when you put a coin in the slot. The point of the
game is to maximize the number of points by controlling the balls with
two flippers and making the pinballs fall into holes and hit various
objects that make ringing noises as many times as possible before the
pinballs return to where they came from.

The group included both senior lecturers and professors, all extremely
talented mathematicians. But there was no clear connection between being
skilled at the game and scientific competence. In principle, it should
probably be possible to calculate the perfect trajectory for the
pinballs, but the advanced physical and physiological models this would
entail were clearly too advanced even for the professors. The matter was
rendered even more difficult because some players would attempt to
sabotage the game by casually bumping into the machine to upset the
pinballs. Anyone who would have suggested that the game of pinball
should be reserved for mathematicians, physicists and physiologists
would have been regarded as slightly deranged.

However, this is not the case in economics. In economic science, it is
claimed that it is possible to construct mathematical models that can be
used in calculating the optimum behaviour of individuals in much more
complex decision making situations than the one outlined above. And that
is not all. Economists believe that they can prove by referring to those
models that they are more suited to making political decisions than are
the politicians themselves!

Let us use the latest prize in economics (The Bank of Sweden Prize in
Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel which is its correct name)
as an example. The prize was awarded to Finn E Kydland and Edward C
Prescott. This is an excerpt from the statement of The Royal Academy of
Science:

"Kydland and Prescott showed that economic policymakers who cannot
commit to a rule in advance often will conduct a policy that gives rise
to high inflation, despite their stated objective of low inflation.
Already in their 1977 article, the Laureates considered the possibility
of conducting fiscal and monetary policy on the basis of long-run rules,
which are difficult to change. This work has had a far-reaching impact
on reforms carried out in many places (such as New Zealand, Sweden,
Great Britain, and in the Euro area), aimed at legislated delegation of
monetary policy decisions to independent central bankers with different
kinds of pre-specified price-stability objectives."

So, what is in the famous 1977 article? The heart of the article is a
mathematical model, an optimization problem with side conditions. A
rational decision maker, let's call him P, knows the exact relations
between a number of economic variables, some of which are under the
control of P. Furthermore, P knows the exact outcomes of his decisions
at a certain stage in the economy when the decisions are made. P is
guided by "a widely accepted social goal function" which has such
characteristic - for example being differentiable and having the right
convexity in its graphs - that an unambiguous and optimum solution can
be calculated. Despite of this, the decisions do not lead to an
optimized solution. The reason for this is that P has "opponents" to
consider and this is not only "nature", but it also includes "rational
economic agents".

The level of abstraction in the article is extremely high. The model can
be used for economies where P represents "the politicians" as a
collective, and where the guiding variables are interest rates, monetary
assets and the national budget and where the variables of the goal
function can be inflation and unemployment rates. It can also be used if
P is a company that needs to decide which investment strategies would
maximize the profits. In both cases, the decision power is monolithic.
All conflicts of interests, be it between politicians, between political
parties or between different owners in a company, have been removed from
the model.

Of course, these types of hypothetical societies or companies may be
interesting in their own right, as utopian schemes or as points of
comparison with a more complex reality. However, the claims of those
awarding the prize go much further than this.

As can be seen in the academy's motivation, the laureates are supposed
to have shown that part of economic policy-making should be removed from
the sphere of the general public and their elected representatives.
Instead, the decision-making power should be transferred to experts, who
should be protected by law from being directed by their politically
elected supervisors.

There may of course be reasons for why there should be central banks
directed by experts, just as there may be reasons why this shouldn't be
the case. There has been a heated debate on this matter both among
politicians and among economists. However, the reasons cannot, even with
the best intensions, be derived from the sort of abstract reasoning that
is now rewarded with the prize in economics.

The basic problem is that economic science cannot be compared to natural
sciences. Especially physics and chemistry are universal in the sense
that their findings are equally valid in the U.S. as they are in China
or Germany. They are independent of politics and economic systems. The
equations governing the construction and durability of a concrete bridge
are the same irrespective of country. If you use one particular method
for building the bridge it will collapse. If you use another method it
will stand. Medicine is not equally universal, as there are
controversies between different schools of thought. However, compared to
the social sciences there is an astounding degree of agreement on how to
assess the quality of different research findings.

In the mid 1960s the world economy was fairly stable. Herbert Tingsten
declared the demise of ideologies. This was also the time when the
belief that economists could draw up laws governing economies, not very
different from Newton's laws of gravity, was at its peak. It was in this
intellectual climate that the idea for a an economics prize in the wake
of the Nobel prize was born in the Swedish central bank. In 1969, the
first prize was awarded to Paul A Samuelson and Jan Tinbergen, both
symbols for a mathematically oriented and purportedly politically
neutral discipline of economics.

The true art of the natural sciences is the ability of simplifying
matter in a manner that allows mathematics to be used while still
producing meaningful results. Economists, however, do not have the same
favorable conditions. The assumptions that have to be made about human
behaviour to be able to solve the equations are simplified to the extent
that they become meaningless. Political science, sociology, history,
social anthropology and even business economics are all, on average,
more careful in their use of mathematical models. We find it hard to
believe that a political scientist would dare to claim that it would be
possible to 'prove' that certain ways of organising a society are
optimal, solely based on mathematics and with disregard of any kind of
political value assumptions.

One could perhaps argue that this may not really matter, but it does and
it does so for a number of reasons. It is true that the prize in
economics has been awarded to broad non mathematically-oriented
economists such as Gunnar Myrdal and Friedrich von Hayek. This joint
prize illustrates, by the way, how awkward it all becomes when one tries
to neutralise the political dynamite inherent in the prize.

The tendency, however, has been to award the prize to a special kind of
economics, which tries to mimic the methods and claims of objectivity
found in the natural sciences. This is, in our view, deeply unfortunate
since the prestige of the prize will make it dictate the direction of
tomorrow's research.

It is not reasonable to claim that the economics prize has been awarded
for such great insights into the workings of society that it is on par
with the findings in physics when it comes to the understanding of the
structure and nature of matter. The prize in economics devalues all the
other Nobel prizes.

So, what should be done? We see that the three responsible authorities -
the Bank of Sweden, the Nobel foundation and The Royal Academy of
Science - have four alternatives:

1. Nothing is done. All the Nobel prizes gradually diminish in value.

2. The prize in economics is abolished.

3. Keep the prize, but completely remove the association with the Nobel
prize. Award the prize on a different day.

4. Try to gradually make the prize more in line with how the broad array
of modern social sciences understand how the economy works in different
types of societies. Thus, the prize could be awarded to a historian or a
political scientist who have furthered our understanding of the economy
in a social perspective, just as well as an economists, mathematician or
statistician. This would be challenging, however, since it would
probably be much more difficult to agree. On the other hand, the Swedish
academy has succeeded in finding worthy laureates for the prize in
literature, so it should not be completely impossible.

We would argue for the fourth alternative. But, on the other hand, now
that the Bank of Sweden's need for independence has been mathematically
proved through this year's prize, it would only be fair to make up for
this by an initiative that once and for all would remove any association
between the economics prize and the Nobel Prize.

Johan Lönnroth
Senior lecturer in economics, former member of parliament (left)
Måns Lönnroth
Senior lecturer in technology and social change, director-general
Peter Jagers
Professor of mathematical statistics, Chalmers

--
Mostly economics: <http://www.dreamscape.com/rvien/#PublicationsForFun>
r c
v s a Whether strength of body or of mind, or wisdom, or
i m p virtue, are found in proportion to the power or wealth
e a e of a man is a question fit perhaps to be discussed by
n e . slaves in the hearing of their masters, but highly
@ r c m unbecoming to reasonable and free men in search of
d o the truth. -- Rousseau

MS

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Dec 16, 2004, 8:58:46 AM12/16/04
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Technically, it is not a Nobel Prize.

Jim Blair

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Dec 17, 2004, 3:22:20 PM12/17/04
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"Robert Vienneau" <rv...@see.sig.com> wrote in message
news:rvien-92DF38....@news.dreamscape.com...

> Dagens Nyheter, 10 December 2004
>
> "The Nobel prize in economics diminishes the value of all other Nobel
> prizes".....

Hi,

Interesting, but note that in 2002 the prize was given for "experimental
economics".

http://nobelprize.org/economics/laureates/2002/index.html

And what about the Nobel Prize for literature? Isn't that rather subjective?
Or better a Nobel Peace Prize, and especially when the death of a recent
"winner" may open the door to peace in the Middle East? (or so we can hope)

,,,,,,,
_______________ooo___(_O O_)___ooo_______________
(_)
jim blair (jeb...@facstaff.wisc.edu) Madison Wisconsin
USA. This message was brought to you using biodegradable
binary bits, and 100% recycled bandwidth. For a good time
call: http://www.geocities.com/capitolhill/4834


ro...@telus.net

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Dec 19, 2004, 1:13:26 AM12/19/04
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On Fri, 17 Dec 2004 14:22:20 -0600, "Jim Blair" <j...@wisc.edu> wrote:

>And what about the Nobel Prize for literature? Isn't that rather subjective?

Yes. Some of the early ones, in particular, seem inexplicable now.
Quite likely the recent ones will age better, as they are less
Eurocentric.

>Or better a Nobel Peace Prize, and especially when the death of a recent
>"winner" may open the door to peace in the Middle East?

There's a lot of subjectivity in all such prizes. I find the Peace
prize as problematical as the Economics prize; though again, some of
the winners have clearly deserved it.

-- Roy L

Bulba!

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Dec 27, 2004, 8:47:13 AM12/27/04
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On Sun, 19 Dec 2004 06:13:26 GMT, ro...@telus.net wrote:

>On Fri, 17 Dec 2004 14:22:20 -0600, "Jim Blair" <j...@wisc.edu> wrote:

>>And what about the Nobel Prize for literature? Isn't that rather subjective?

>Yes. Some of the early ones, in particular, seem inexplicable now.
>Quite likely the recent ones will age better, as they are less
>Eurocentric.

The recent ones are trash, and they are not any less "eurocentric",
e.g. the most recent prize going to feminist nonsense, which is really
merely a bad side effect of enlightenment.

--
It's a man's life in a Python Programming Association.

ro...@telus.net

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Dec 28, 2004, 7:44:30 PM12/28/04
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Hmm. It seems I am not as up to date as I thought. Looking at the
literature laureates of the last 30 years, I have not read anything by
most of them. I don't know if that's more my fault, or theirs, or the
Nobel committee's.

-- Roy L

James A. Donald

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Dec 28, 2004, 11:46:15 PM12/28/04
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--

On Wed, 29 Dec 2004 00:44:30 GMT, ro...@telus.net wrote:
> Hmm. It seems I am not as up to date as I thought. Looking
> at the literature laureates of the last 30 years, I have not
> read anything by most of them. I don't know if that's more
> my fault, or theirs, or the Nobel committee's.

Nobel committee's

--digsig
James A. Donald
6YeGpsZR+nOTh/cGwvITnSR3TdzclVpR0+pr3YYQdkG
jDYiiF83hV9niYyvpCNozxfYHXqMERW8tDmsnR7R
4rRvdRQ5OvcmxUwalaLei8MdelKuLRLFPpk3CvHmA

Toby

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Dec 29, 2004, 1:45:04 AM12/29/04
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Why is it the committee's fault that someone has not read any works by the
authors it chooses? Aside from that it's not a popularity contest, or
Danielle Steele would be winning Nobels.

Toby
"James A. Donald" <jam...@echeque.com> wrote in message
news:hjd4t05l6a6f2k4u7...@4ax.com...

James A. Donald

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Dec 29, 2004, 4:19:51 PM12/29/04
to
--
"Toby":
> Why is it the [Nobel] committee's fault that someone has not
> read any works by the authors it chooses?

It chooses books that are no damned good.

The Nobel literature prize has come resemble the peace prize.
The recipients are typically literate to about the same extent
as Arafat is peaceful.

It chooses on political grounds, and on the race, ethnicity,
purported class background, and claimed personal history of the
author. In at least one case, the author turned out to have
lied about her ethnicity, class background, and personal
history - falsely claiming membership of an oppressed group by
ancestry, upbringing, and personal experience, and giving a
depiction of the life and experiences of this group that was
politically satisfying, but unrealistic.

--digsig
James A. Donald
6YeGpsZR+nOTh/cGwvITnSR3TdzclVpR0+pr3YYQdkG

5e+nGQmueNlWTWYDKaWmWCpujsVU1fOkTrhGfbbb
4HqJ/vSNvw4X5ycFmvgEGVMoprd0YxZ/k/qARauCj

robert j. kolker

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Dec 29, 2004, 4:32:46 PM12/29/04
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James A. Donald wrote:

> --
> "Toby":
>
>>Why is it the [Nobel] committee's fault that someone has not
>>read any works by the authors it chooses?
>
>
> It chooses books that are no damned good.

That is a subjective judgement. Define "damned good" and "no damned
good" so that anyone who reads the definition will agree with it.

Bob Kolker

James A. Donald

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Dec 29, 2004, 6:14:26 PM12/29/04
to
--
"Toby":
> > > Why is it the [Nobel] committee's fault that someone has
> > > not read any works by the authors it chooses?

James A. Donald:


> > It chooses books that are no damned good.

"robert j. kolker"


> That is a subjective judgement.

For books that are sufficiently bad, not a subjective judgment.
The choice of books and authors also shows that the literature
committee is selecting books and authors on grounds unrelated
to literary merit.


--digsig
James A. Donald
6YeGpsZR+nOTh/cGwvITnSR3TdzclVpR0+pr3YYQdkG

6uMB5nDHMCSVKEC6fwVhEb6rm1V2MS/q9kd1JnqF
4HaN7nB4HdJ5oXdo9HSAYfxE3CeHCdiLp8490cANj

Bulba!

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Dec 30, 2004, 6:51:54 AM12/30/04
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On 29 Dec 2004 00:45:04 -0600, "Toby" <kymar...@ybb.ne.jpp> wrote:

>Why is it the committee's fault that someone has not read any works by the
>authors it chooses? Aside from that it's not a popularity contest, or
>Danielle Steele would be winning Nobels.

Always in denial...


>>> Hmm. It seems I am not as up to date as I thought. Looking
>>> at the literature laureates of the last 30 years, I have not
>>> read anything by most of them. I don't know if that's more
>>> my fault, or theirs, or the Nobel committee's.
>>
>> Nobel committee's
>>
>> --digsig
>> James A. Donald
>> 6YeGpsZR+nOTh/cGwvITnSR3TdzclVpR0+pr3YYQdkG
>> jDYiiF83hV9niYyvpCNozxfYHXqMERW8tDmsnR7R
>> 4rRvdRQ5OvcmxUwalaLei8MdelKuLRLFPpk3CvHmA

--

Bulba!

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Dec 30, 2004, 7:12:16 AM12/30/04
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On Wed, 29 Dec 2004 21:32:46 GMT, "robert j. kolker"
<now...@nowhere.com> wrote:
>> "Toby":

>>>Why is it the [Nobel] committee's fault that someone has not
>>>read any works by the authors it chooses?

>> It chooses books that are no damned good.

>That is a subjective judgement. Define "damned good" and "no damned
>good" so that anyone who reads the definition will agree with it.

That's damn hard to do, as "we don't control what we don't measure",
and obviously nobody has found the way to "measure" the value
of literary work (perish the ridiculous thought) - but, but, as
Joseph Conrad has put it, "the art should render the highest
kind of justice to the visible universe". If you apply this kind of
standard to a book, it at least becomes clear if it is poor.

When committee members have awarded Saul Bellow, they awarded
a writer who is exceptionally good at dragging the truth about
real world out to the light, so we could all see it.

Recently, when they awarded that idiot from Austria, they have
not so much appreciated someone who "renders justice to the
visible universe" as attempted to use the publicity they have
to shove their petty sympathies down the throats of people, by
awarding the "work" that attempts to use whatever publicity it
has in order to shove her petty sympathies and antipathies
down the throats of people.

Dan Clore

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Dec 30, 2004, 10:00:35 AM12/30/04
to

Probably yours. But most people in the English-speaking
world probably don't read any amount of contemporary
literature by foreign-language authors, and the Nobel Prize
takes the entire field of world literature as its purview. I
believe that they even try to spread the awards fairly
evenly over the world. Seriously, though, if you were asked
to name some of the most important literary figures
currently in, say, Asia or Africa, how many could you think
of off-hand?

--
Dan Clore

My collected fiction, _The Unspeakable and Others_:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1587154838/thedanclorenecro
Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/9879/
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

Strange pleasures are known to him who flaunts the
immarcescible purple of poetry before the color-blind.
-- Clark Ashton Smith, "Epigrams and Apothegms"

Bulba!

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Dec 30, 2004, 1:04:27 PM12/30/04
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On Thu, 30 Dec 2004 07:00:35 -0800, Dan Clore
<cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
>>>The recent ones are trash, and they are not any less "eurocentric",
>>>e.g. the most recent prize going to feminist nonsense, which is really
>>>merely a bad side effect of enlightenment.

>> Hmm. It seems I am not as up to date as I thought. Looking at the
>> literature laureates of the last 30 years, I have not read anything by
>> most of them. I don't know if that's more my fault, or theirs, or the
>> Nobel committee's.

>Probably yours.

No, almost certainly committee's.

>But most people in the English-speaking
>world probably don't read any amount of contemporary
>literature by foreign-language authors, and the Nobel Prize
>takes the entire field of world literature as its purview.

The very initial point of the literary prize was promoting the
authors who were not widely recognized while they _deserved_
it.

>I
>believe that they even try to spread the awards fairly
>evenly over the world. Seriously, though, if you were asked
>to name some of the most important literary figures
>currently in, say, Asia or Africa, how many could you think
>of off-hand?

Which is to show that committee instead of doing what
it's supposed to do is trying to shove stupid politics
around. Like that certainly was the case with Dario Fo.

Message has been deleted

ro...@telus.net

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Dec 30, 2004, 6:28:34 PM12/30/04
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On Thu, 30 Dec 2004 07:00:35 -0800, Dan Clore
<cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:

>ro...@telus.net wrote:
>> On Mon, 27 Dec 2004 14:47:13 +0100, Bulba! <bu...@bulba.com> wrote:
>>>On Sun, 19 Dec 2004 06:13:26 GMT, ro...@telus.net wrote:
>>>>On Fri, 17 Dec 2004 14:22:20 -0600, "Jim Blair" <j...@wisc.edu> wrote:
>
>>>>>And what about the Nobel Prize for literature? Isn't that rather subjective?
>>>
>>>>Yes. Some of the early ones, in particular, seem inexplicable now.
>>>>Quite likely the recent ones will age better, as they are less
>>>>Eurocentric.
>>>
>>>The recent ones are trash, and they are not any less "eurocentric",
>>>e.g. the most recent prize going to feminist nonsense, which is really
>>>merely a bad side effect of enlightenment.
>
>> Hmm. It seems I am not as up to date as I thought. Looking at the
>> literature laureates of the last 30 years, I have not read anything by
>> most of them. I don't know if that's more my fault, or theirs, or the
>> Nobel committee's.
>
>Probably yours. But most people in the English-speaking
>world probably don't read any amount of contemporary
>literature by foreign-language authors,

I do read a bit of it. Just not the laureates'.

>and the Nobel Prize
>takes the entire field of world literature as its purview. I
>believe that they even try to spread the awards fairly
>evenly over the world.

It certainly doesn't look like it. There's still a huge
over-representation of northern European and especially Scandinavian
writers, and a corresponding under-representation of Chinese and
Indian writers. Pearl Buck won for her novels _about_ china, but the
only _Chinese_ to win is practically a Frenchman. What is that all
about?

>Seriously, though, if you were asked
>to name some of the most important literary figures
>currently in, say, Asia or Africa, how many could you think
>of off-hand?

Only Liu Pin-Yen and Chinua Achebe spring to mind at the moment -- but
IMO other deserving writers are typically working in journalism or
screenwriting, not "serious" novels, plays or poetry, and the Nobel
committee has not been casting its literary net widely enough. Too
many untranslatable poets nobody reads, not enough of the popular
novelists, journalists, essayists and screenwriters who really have an
impact on world culture as well as their own national cultures.

-- Roy L

M J Carley

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Jan 6, 2005, 6:18:53 AM1/6/05
to
In the referenced article, James A. Donald <jam...@echeque.com> writes:

>For books that are sufficiently bad, not a subjective judgment. The
>choice of books and authors also shows that the literature committee
>is selecting books and authors on grounds unrelated to literary
>merit.

Of prize winners in the last forty years, I've read (at least
something by) Beckett, Solzhenitsyn, Montale, Milosz, Garcia Marquez,
Golding, Soyinka, Brodsky, Mahfouz, Walcott, Morrison, Heaney and
Fo. Some I like more than others, but I can't say they were chosen `on
grounds unrelated to literary merit'. Maybe you can tell us which
authors were chosen for something other than their books, and why they
were really chosen.
--
E' la storia di un pasticciere, trotzkista, un pasticciere trotzkista
nell'Italia degli anni '50. E' un film musicale.

No MS attachments: http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/no-word-attachments.html

M J Carley

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Jan 6, 2005, 6:20:27 AM1/6/05
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In the referenced article, Bulba! <bu...@bulba.com> writes:

>Which is to show that committee instead of doing what it's supposed
>to do is trying to shove stupid politics around. Like that certainly
>was the case with Dario Fo.

The `stupid politics' of Dario Fo are as worthy of recognition as
those of Milosz or Solzhenitsyn.

luno...@hotmail.com

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Jan 6, 2005, 11:22:09 AM1/6/05
to
Bulba! wrote:

> Which is to show that committee instead of doing what
> it's supposed to do is trying to shove stupid politics
> around. Like that certainly was the case with Dario Fo.

I would be interested to know how much Fo have you read.
(Other Nobel prize winners as well, given your "judgements", but Fo in
particular.

GT

Bulba!

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Jan 6, 2005, 12:28:38 PM1/6/05
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On Thu, 6 Jan 2005 11:20:27 GMT, ens...@bath.ac.uk (M J Carley) wrote:

>In the referenced article, Bulba! <bu...@bulba.com> writes:
>
>>Which is to show that committee instead of doing what it's supposed
>>to do is trying to shove stupid politics around. Like that certainly
>>was the case with Dario Fo.

>The `stupid politics' of Dario Fo are as worthy of recognition as
>those of Milosz or Solzhenitsyn.

Maybe according to maniacs it's the _politics_ that should be
recognized in the _literary_ prize - or perhaps some maniacs
see everything as just packaged politics.

Most of readers, however, seem to have a different standard.

Is it really so hard to discern writing that is important politically,
but not great literature, like e.g. book of Nathan Sharansky, from
great writing itself?

If Milosz or Solzhenitsyn made no good writing, they should not get
prize that has "literary" in title for chrissakes, but maybe a Peace
Prize or smth like that.

I've seen a play based on Dario Fo's writing. Not so bad, but
really, if that's all he could come up with..

M J Carley

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Jan 7, 2005, 2:19:53 PM1/7/05
to
In the referenced article, Bulba! <bu...@bulba.com> writes:
>On Thu, 6 Jan 2005 11:20:27 GMT, ens...@bath.ac.uk (M J Carley) wrote:
>
>>In the referenced article, Bulba! <bu...@bulba.com> writes:
>>
>>>Which is to show that committee instead of doing what it's supposed
>>>to do is trying to shove stupid politics around. Like that certainly
>>>was the case with Dario Fo.
>
>>The `stupid politics' of Dario Fo are as worthy of recognition as
>>those of Milosz or Solzhenitsyn.
>
>Maybe according to maniacs it's the _politics_ that should be
>recognized in the _literary_ prize - or perhaps some maniacs
>see everything as just packaged politics.

>Most of readers, however, seem to have a different standard.

The opposite, surely. You object to Fo for his politics, making no
comment on his writing (with which I doubt you are familiar).

>Is it really so hard to discern writing that is important politically,
>but not great literature, like e.g. book of Nathan Sharansky, from
>great writing itself?

No: I am perfectly capable of accepting that Yeats or Eliot, whose
politics were horrible, were great writers. Similarly, I do think Fo
(who I read in the original) is a great writer and well worth being in
the company of Beckett et. al.

>I've seen a play based on Dario Fo's writing. Not so bad, but really,
>if that's all he could come up with..

--

Ron Peterson

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Jan 7, 2005, 3:06:01 PM1/7/05
to

Robert Vienneau wrote:
> Dagens Nyheter, 10 December 2004

> ... These attempts at mimicking the objectivity and methods of the


> natural sciences are not acceptable. The economics prize diminishes
the
> value of the other Nobel prizes. If the prize is to be kept, it must
be
> broadened in scope and be disassociated with Nobel. This is the view
of,
> among others Peter Jagers, professor of mathematics who is also a
> member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Science who awards the prize.

I believe that a Nobel prize in medicine was awarded to the person who
invented the lobotomy. Any system of awards may be subject to pitfalls.
--
Ron

Dan Clore

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Jan 7, 2005, 3:08:28 PM1/7/05
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M J Carley wrote:
> In the referenced article, Bulba! <bu...@bulba.com> writes:
>>On Thu, 6 Jan 2005 11:20:27 GMT, ens...@bath.ac.uk (M J Carley) wrote:
>>>In the referenced article, Bulba! <bu...@bulba.com> writes:

> No: I am perfectly capable of accepting that Yeats or Eliot, whose
> politics were horrible, were great writers. Similarly, I do think Fo
> (who I read in the original) is a great writer and well worth being in
> the company of Beckett et. al.

Right. It still seems like Borges should have gotten one,
though.

Bulba!

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Jan 7, 2005, 3:49:09 PM1/7/05
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On Fri, 7 Jan 2005 19:19:53 GMT, ens...@bath.ac.uk (M J Carley) wrote:
>>>The `stupid politics' of Dario Fo are as worthy of recognition as
>>>those of Milosz or Solzhenitsyn.

>>Maybe according to maniacs it's the _politics_ that should be
>>recognized in the _literary_ prize - or perhaps some maniacs
>>see everything as just packaged politics.

>>Most of readers, however, seem to have a different standard.

>The opposite, surely.

Yes, surely, given how little attention is paid to winners
of the recent prizes (can you name the last, say, 3 winners
from 2 years ago?), while what e.g. Saul Bellow wrote is
still being read.

>You object to Fo for his politics, making no
>comment on his writing (with which I doubt you are familiar).

Not directly - I've seen his play.

>>Is it really so hard to discern writing that is important politically,
>>but not great literature, like e.g. book of Nathan Sharansky, from
>>great writing itself?
>
>No: I am perfectly capable of accepting that Yeats or Eliot, whose
>politics were horrible, were great writers. Similarly, I do think Fo
>(who I read in the original) is a great writer and well worth being in
>the company of Beckett et. al.

Maybe, but personally I doubt it - I have no idea what politics
of Tom Stoppard is, for instance, but am familiar with his
name simply because of his work. I may not know precisely
what was politics of Milan Kundera, but his "Unbearable lightness
of being" is a masterpiece. I may not even like the views
of Ray Bradbury, but simply read him. Again, I never read an
interview with Faulkner or Salinger (don't know if any of
them ever got any prize), but their works are simply
_worth it_.

While in case of recent Prize recipients it is clear that
with them politics comes first, and literature only later.

>>I've seen a play based on Dario Fo's writing. Not so bad, but really,
>>if that's all he could come up with..

--

M J Carley

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Jan 9, 2005, 5:45:33 AM1/9/05
to
In the referenced article, cl...@columbia-center.org writes:

>Right. It still seems like Borges should have gotten one, though.

And Joyce, Calvino and Conrad. The interesting thing, looking at the
list of laureates, is just how few duffers there are. There are a few
people who deserved a prize, but not many who undeservedly got one.

Dan Clore

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Jan 9, 2005, 4:52:48 PM1/9/05
to
M J Carley wrote:
> In the referenced article, cl...@columbia-center.org writes:
>
>>Right. It still seems like Borges should have gotten one, though.
>
> And Joyce, Calvino and Conrad. The interesting thing, looking at the
> list of laureates, is just how few duffers there are. There are a few
> people who deserved a prize, but not many who undeservedly got one.

Agreed. Looking down the list, I see that I've read works by
45 or more of the laureates, and know most of the rest by
reputation, and see many I would find worth arguing about.

--
Dan Clore

My collected fiction, _The Unspeakable and Others_:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1587154838/thedanclorenecro

Lord We˙rdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:

M J Carley

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Jan 10, 2005, 3:59:36 AM1/10/05
to
In the referenced article, cl...@columbia-center.org writes:

>Agreed. Looking down the list, I see that I've read works by 45 or
>more of the laureates, and know most of the rest by reputation, and
>see many I would find worth arguing about.

But that'll be because you're a commie and have no appreciation of
literature other than its utility to the revolution.

Dan Clore

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Jan 11, 2005, 4:14:16 AM1/11/05
to
M J Carley wrote:
> In the referenced article, cl...@columbia-center.org writes:
>
>>Agreed. Looking down the list, I see that I've read works by 45 or
>>more of the laureates, and know most of the rest by reputation, and
>>see many I would find worth arguing about.

Argh. I meant *don't* see many, etc.

> But that'll be because you're a commie and have no appreciation of
> literature other than its utility to the revolution.

Why, of course. L'art au service de la revolution!

M J Carley

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Jan 11, 2005, 4:28:14 AM1/11/05
to
In the referenced article, cl...@columbia-center.org writes:

>> But that'll be because you're a commie and have no appreciation of
>> literature other than its utility to the revolution.
>
>Why, of course. L'art au service de la revolution!

Slightly tangentially, I came across something in a book of interviews
with Andrea Camilleri, the best selling Italian author ever in
Italy. In 1968 he was teaching in the Italian school of cinematography
and when the students took the place over, he was the only teacher
they let stay. They also destroyed the clock and the hooter which
sounded every hour to signal the change of classes and were considered
a symbol of oppression. Camilleri put up a notice saying `Professor
Camilleri's class will take place tomorrow at 9:00'. The first
stragglers turned up after 11:00.

He put up a second notice: `The difference between a revolutionary and
a waster is that a revolutionary smashes the clock and turns up at
five to nine. A waster smashes the clock and gets out of bed at
eleven.'

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