Twenty Red Lights
While people – credit-seeking or not – are hardly the most visible features of Twenty Red Lights, Max De Esteban’s book offers an incisive portrayal of the technology that constitutes us as appreciable projects. On the one hand, we are shown the buildings where asset handlers presumably dwell: ominous yet largely interchangeable, they are the black boxes of financialization. Behind their walls, current events and long term prospects are used as gambling material and, by that token, subjected to the primacy of the near future. On the other hand, we are invited to encounter the algorithms thanks to which everything from natural resources to fantastic dreams becomes an object of speculation. Short of appearing “in person”, they manifest themselves through the running numbers that turn expectations into ratings, through the arcane language of the contracts that turn the risks faced by some into the assets traded by others, and, courtesy of Max’s discrete assistance, through haunting watchwords – shareholders value, credit default swap, asset-backed security, collateralized loan obligation, etc. – gently tattooed on the skin of our brave new world.
From Brave New World Redux, by Michel Feher
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