26 October 2013

What the Houellebecque?

Financial Times sub-editing is not what it was. This letter appeared today (26/7 October):

Mr Creese is right about the titles of the two books being the same (although the full title of Greenspan’s is The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature and the Future of Forecasting). And the second only carries that title in translation, the original being La carte et le territoire. However its author was, of course, Michel Houellebecq – how could the FT have let that mistake through?

The similarity in the titles was picked up by Carolyn Kellogg in the Los Angeles Times in an amusing piece, What does Alan Greenspan have in common with Michel Houellebecq? She concluded:
How did very different books by such different writers come to share a title? I think it comes from Alfred Korzybski, the Polish-American philosopher and founder of semantics -- in talking about the difference between a description of a thing and the experience of it, said, "a map is not the territory." Why did they both invert the phrase in the same way? Perhaps Greenspan has spent some of his time after retiring from the Fed reading edgy French literature.

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