Tom Wolfe has written a romp of an article following up on the “masters of the universe” he wrote about in Bonfire of the Vanities 25 years ago. He focuses his eye on hyper-aggressive, hyper-status conscious, hyper-hyper hedge fund managers and their sculpted “twinkie” wives. Here is the piece’s soul:
[They are] the very embodiment of the “animal spirits” John Maynard Keynes was referring to when he said that only the instinctive “naive optimism” of men endowed with “animal spirits” could generate the sort of confidence that is crucial for economic prosperity? In these rare but essential souls “the thought of ultimate loss which often overtakes pioneers … is put aside as a healthy man puts aside the expectation of death.”
Keynes had no idea where these animal spirits came from. Too bad he didn’t live into the 21st century! He could have studied us and solved the mystery and died a happy man! Animal spirits, ils sont nous!
Two very different thoughts.
One is that maybe when Keynes talked about “animal spirits” what he meant was mammon. Jesus famously said in Matthew, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.” We’ve come to think of Mammon as simply being another word for money. But Jesus personifies Mammon. Many have long held that Mammon is a demon – a demon of greed.
Second, it is all just a search for God. These men and women are just trying to fill the same ache in their soul that man has tried to fill from the beginning of time. That they have substantial means to fill it in sometimes shocking ways is the only difference between them and someone who, say, loves an iphone or someone who loves a lot beer. We are all searching for the one who fills the soul and sometimes even when we find Him we forget and go on trying to do it ourselves.