Thursday 27 March 2008

climate-change characters

In the New York Times, liberal economist Paul Krugman complains that we live in an age of anti-Cassandras. Take the recent discussion about Iraq:

'just about every one of the panels convened to discuss the lessons of five disastrous years consisted solely of men and women who cheered the idiocy on.'

Over at Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabbarok explains:

'The answer is media incentives. It wasn't just the experts who were wrong, the majority of the American people got Iraq ... wrong ... So what does the American public want to hear now? The public wants to hear why they weren't idiots.'

But Krugman overstates it: every age is anti-Cassandra. In Aeschylus's Oresteia, Cassandra says, 'You are lost to every word I've said.' She was never going to end up on a talkshow saying, ‘told you so’.1

Cassandra's gift for prophecy makes her one of a handful of 'climate-change characters' we listed here. Others include Marlowe's Faust living 'in all voluptuousness' and Sally Bowles in Cabaret, not having a clue what's going on.

See also Creon in Antigone here, King Lear here, Galileo here, Astrov in Uncle Vanya here and Dr Stockmann in Enemy of the People here.

1 In Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite, the Cassandra character says: 'I see disaster. I see catastrophe. Worse, I see lawyers.'

pic: Lilo Baur as Cassandra (NT)

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