Saturday, September 20, 2008

Debtor's Prism

Leave it up to Margaret Atwood to make literary sense out of the economic downturn, and uncertainty.

This excerpt, from her upcoming book Payback, published in the Wall Street Journal, poses questions regarding the susceptibility of an individual to drown in debt. Atwood also points out the etymology of the word mortgage, in the following paragraph.

I pause here to add that "mortgage" means "dead pledge" -- "mort" from the French for "dead," "gage" for "pledge," like the part in medieval romances where the knight throws down his glove, thus challenging another knight to a duel -- the glove or gage being the pledge that the guy will actually show up on time to get his head bashed in, and the accepting of the gage being a reciprocal pledge. Which should make you think twice about engagement rings, since they too are a gage or pledge -- what actually are you pledging when you present such a ring to your one true love?

The other day, I was on the subway coming home, and I noticed the subway car I was on, at least, had 3 companies claiming (advertising) to rescue people from debt, and pending credit deadlines. This made me wonder, what does that say about our society? Does that mean our list of "wants" is longer than the number of zeroes on our paychecks? However, we don't have a problem with paying someone to get us out of our debts, hence spending more money, which we should be saving to pay off the impending debts, in the first place. Doesn't that sound a bit paradoxical? Pay more, to make up for the money you don't have, and the stuff you couldn't afford to buy, in the first place. Hmm...

p.s. I can't believe it took me this long to finally fess up, in the blogosphere, about my love for anything Atwood. She is a fellow University of Toronto alum, and a winner of the Booker Prize. She has the honour of having 5 Booker nominations. Her novels Alias Grace, and the Blind Assassin are my ultimate favourites. Heck, I even use her as a weeding device, when it comes to "dating". Any guy who has heard of Margaret Atwood gets immediate brownie points.