Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Proust beats Malcolm Gladwell

A partial anecdote told by Prince Von captures the thesis of Macolm Gladwell's Blink (2005) — that quick intuitive judgments can have surprising accuracy:

"I'm rather inclined to compare the Kaiser," continued the Prince, whose inability to pronounce the word "archaeologist" (that is, as though it were spelled with a "k") did nothing to stop him from taking every opportunity to use it, "to an old archaeologist" — which the Prince pronounced as "arsheologist" — "we have in Berlin. If you set him in front of a genuine piece of Assyrian antiquity, this old arsheologist weeps. But if it is a modern fake, if it is something that is not really old, he fails to weep. And so, when they want to know whether an arsheological piece is really old, they take it to the old arsheologist. If he weeps, they buy the piece for the museum. If there are no tears, they send it back to the dealer and prosecute him for fraud."

The Guermantes Way, translated by Mark Treharne (New York: Penguin, 2002), 524
Note: "Von" is short for "von Faffenheim-Munsterburg-Weinigen." These nobles dig nicknames.
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comments: 2

Crritic! said...

As opposed to an arse-elogist, which is a different thing entirely.

Troy Worman said...

Less is more.