The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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Entries from June 2011

Something for nothing

June 30th, 2011 · No Comments

“With stagnant wages and booming consumption, the cash-strapped American masses had a virtually unlimited demand for loans but an uncertain ability to repay them.  All they had going for them, from the point of view of Wall Street financial engineers, was that their financial fates could be misconstrued as uncorrelated.  By assuming that one pile […]

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Tags: Economics · Michael Lewis

Clarity

June 29th, 2011 · 1 Comment

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.” — […]

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Tags: Economics · Michael Lewis · Tolstoy

Scribal motivation

June 28th, 2011 · No Comments

“My subject had taken me up, drawn me on, and absorbed me into itself. It was necessary for me, it seemed, to write the book I had been thinking much of, even if it were destined to fall dead from the press, and I had no inclination or interest to write any other.” — John […]

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Tags: Lit & Crit · The Cambridge History of English and American Literature

Animals!

June 27th, 2011 · No Comments

“Animals! the object of insatiable interest, examples of the riddle of life, created, as it were, to reveal the human being to man himself, displaying his richness and complexity in a thousand kaleidoscopic possibilities, each of them brought to some curious end, to some characteristic exuberance.” — Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles (trans. Wieniewska)

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Tags: Bruno Schulz · Lit & Crit

No disrespect intended

June 27th, 2011 · No Comments

“If, forgetting the respect due to the Creator, I were to attempt a criticism of creation, I would say, ‘Less matter, more form!’  Ah, what relief it would be for the world to lose some of its contents.” — Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles (trans. Wieniewska)

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Tags: Bruno Schulz · Lit & Crit

No recourse

June 27th, 2011 · No Comments

“The power of destiny is incomprehensible. Its power on all beings cannot be averted.” — Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhyakanda Sarga 22

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Tags: The Ancients · Valmiki Ramayana

The quality of steel in a leveraged derivative

June 26th, 2011 · No Comments

“Nothing so much contributes to promote the public well-being as the exportation of manufactured goods.” — Robert Walpole (quoted by John Cassidy in “Enter the Dragon”)

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Tags: Economics · Lit & Crit

The inheritance of the meek

June 26th, 2011 · No Comments

“In this world a person with soft nature is treated with disgrace.” — Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhyakanda Sarga 21

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Tags: The Ancients · Valmiki Ramayana

All arachnids are poisonous

June 25th, 2011 · No Comments

The last of the lower-case very short stories I wrote in 1995 to be published is “latrodectus, loxosceles, lycosa tarentula,” which was accepted by Denver Quarterly in 2003 and published by them in 2006.  Last week, in “mama when she’s really pretty,” I was channeling a six-year-old girl.  This week in “latrodectus, [etc.],” I’m channeling […]

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Tags: Previously Published Stories · Words

Locusts + crops = stubble

June 24th, 2011 · 2 Comments

“CDOs were flawed from the outset, used too often as a junkyard for risky and substandard assets.  CDOs survived because of changes in the credit markets that produced an excess quantity of these assets and herds of investors hungry for higher yields.” — Anna Katherine Barnett-Hart, “The Story of the CDO Market Meltdown: An Empirical […]

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Tags: Barnett-Hart · Economics

Close your eyes and that’ll look about right

June 23rd, 2011 · No Comments

“Not only did the rating agencies fail to examine the accuracy of their own prior collateral ratings, but in many cases, they also used other agency’s ratings without checking for accuracy.  To correct for any shortcomings in the other agency’s rating methodology, they created the practice of ‘notching,’ whereby they would simply decrease the ratings […]

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Tags: Barnett-Hart · Economics

Roll them bones

June 23rd, 2011 · No Comments

“The line between gambling and investing is artificial and thin.  The soundest investment has the defining trait of a bet (you losing all your money in hopes of making a bit more), and the wildest speculation has the salient characteristic of an investment (you might get your money back with interest).  Maybe the best definition […]

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Tags: Economics · Michael Lewis

All the democracy money can buy

June 23rd, 2011 · 2 Comments

“I think there is something fundamentally scary about our democracy.  Because I think people have a sense that the system is rigged, and it’s hard to argue that it isn’t.” — Charlie Ledley (from The Big Short, by Michael Lewis)

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Tags: Economics · Michael Lewis · Politics & Law

Just lay back and enjoy it

June 22nd, 2011 · 2 Comments

“The upper classes of this country raped this country.  You fucked people.  You built a castle to rip people off.  Not once in all these years have I come across a person inside a big Wall Street firm who was having a crisis of conscience.  Nobody ever said, ‘This is wrong.’” — Steve Eisman (from […]

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Tags: Economics · Michael Lewis · Politics & Law

Anybody we know?

June 22nd, 2011 · No Comments

“A society with deep, troubling economic problems had rigged itself to disguise those problems, and the chief beneficiaries of the deceit were its financial middlemen.  How could this be?” — Michael Lewis, The Big Short

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Tags: Economics · Michael Lewis · Politics & Law

Separate but equally clueless

June 21st, 2011 · No Comments

“There are actually people who do nothing but invest in European mid-cap health care debt.  I don’t think the problem is specific to finance.  I think that parochialism is common to modern intellectual life.  There is no attempt to integrate.” — Charlie Ledley (from The Big Short, by Michael Lewis)

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Tags: Economics · Lit & Crit · Michael Lewis

One size fits all

June 21st, 2011 · No Comments

“Our lives, the big and magnificent lives we can just barely make out beneath the mere facts of our lifestyles, are always trying to occur.  But save for a few rare occasions–falling in love, the birth of a child, the death of a parent, a revelatory moment in nature–they don’t occur; the big magnificence is […]

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Tags: Bruno Schulz · Jonathan Safran Foer · Lit & Crit

Where we are and what we do

June 20th, 2011 · No Comments

“We live on the surface of our planet.  Human life happens on a shell as thin, relative to the size of the earth, as an egg’s, or as thin as the paint on a wall.  We have lifestyles on the surfaces of our lives: habits and culture, clothes, modes of transit, calendars, papers in wallets, […]

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Tags: Bruno Schulz · Jonathan Safran Foer · Lit & Crit

short and sweet

June 18th, 2011 · 2 Comments

This week I’m posting another of those lower-case short-shorts I wrote in the mid-90s, “mama when she’s really pretty.”  I was channeling a six-year-old girl when I wrote this.  It was published in Chiron Review, a litmag run by Michael Hathaway for nearly thirty years before folding earlier this year.

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Tags: Verandah · Words

You can’t get there from here, or from anywhere you’re at

June 17th, 2011 · 4 Comments

“Colonial administrations may have been racist and exploitative, but they did at least work seriously at the business of understanding the people they were governing.  They recruited people prepared to spend their entire careers in dangerous provinces of a single alien nation.  They invested in teaching administrators and military officers the local language.  They established […]

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Tags: Politics & Law

How it can be done

June 17th, 2011 · No Comments

“A skilful literary artist has constructed a tale. If wise, he has not fashioned his thoughts to accommodate his incidents; but having conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique or single effect to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents—he then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect. If […]

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Tags: Lit & Crit · The Cambridge History of English and American Literature

Keeping things balanced

June 16th, 2011 · No Comments

“Patriotism is a curious passion. It does not seem possible to love one’s own country except by hating some other country.” — Archibald MacMechan (from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Vol. XVI, Book II, Ch. 10)

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Tags: Lit & Crit · Politics & Law · The Cambridge History of English and American Literature

Simply put

June 16th, 2011 · No Comments

“I do believe in simplicity. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation from all encumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real.” — Henry David Thoreau

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Tags: Lit & Crit · Verandah

The next level

June 15th, 2011 · No Comments

“As an explanation of the mystery of existence the transcendental philosophy makes little appeal to our own hard-headed and scientific generation; but no one, assuredly, with any measure of spiritual and poetic perception can give himself sincerely and unreservedly to one of the literary masterpieces of the transcendental school, to one of the greater essays […]

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Tags: Lit & Crit · The Cambridge History of English and American Literature

Just close your eyes and choose

June 15th, 2011 · No Comments

“We like to pretend that our experiments define the truth for us.  But that’s often not the case.  Just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved.  And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true.  When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe.” […]

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Tags: Lit & Crit · Verandah

Now hear this

June 14th, 2011 · No Comments

“The ability to listen is, perhaps, the definition of love.” — John Lahr, “Kid of Comedy”

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Tags: John Lahr · Lit & Crit

Smitten

June 14th, 2011 · No Comments

“It can be felt as love when you want to fuck someone and can’t.” — E. L. Doctorow, “Assimilation”

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Tags: Lit & Crit · Verandah

Get back to work

June 13th, 2011 · No Comments

“After the Revolution the novel-reading habit grew, fostered by American publishers and cried out against by many moralists whose cries appeared in magazines side by side with moral tales. Nearly every grade of sophistication applied itself to the problem. It was contested that novels were lies; that they served no virtuous purpose; that they melted […]

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Tags: Lit & Crit · The Cambridge History of English and American Literature

still short

June 12th, 2011 · No Comments

This week I’m posting another of the very short pieces I wrote sans capitalization in the mid-90s, “the german for it, the french.”  It was first published in Quarter After Eight in early 1997.  As with everything I write, it is a true story.  That’s why I write fiction.

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Tags: Previously Published Stories · Words

Neither a Kennedy nor a Bush be they

June 10th, 2011 · No Comments

“There was a great person named Kusa, born to Brahma.  He was a great ascetic of indefatigable vows, conversant with righteousness and worshipping good men. That eminent one married a princess of Vidarbha who was born in a noble descent and suitable to him.  He begot four virtuous sons comparable to himself named Kusamba, Kusanabha, […]

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Tags: The Ancients · Valmiki Ramayana