Sunday, May 27, 2012

Do be do be bo

Can anyone explain to me what the Book of Job stands for in this, the end of a recent column by David Brooks lamenting the lack of attention to issues of character in a discussion of elite youth about careers?

I saw young people with deep moral yearnings. But they tended to convert moral questions into resource allocation questions; questions about how to be into questions about what to do. 

It’s worth noting that you can devote your life to community service and be a total schmuck. You can spend your life on Wall Street and be a hero. Understanding heroism and schmuckdom requires fewer Excel spreadsheets, more Dostoyevsky and the Book of Job. 

"The Book of Job" is doing a lot of work here, but I really can't make out what it is. Is it that life is bigger and more tragic than our life choices? Is it that your do-gooder friends might think you a sell-out for joining Morgan Stanley but God knows your character remains good as gold? Or is it that Job shows that you can be good without doing anything? Does the Book of Job just synechdochically represent religion, the Bible, God? I really don't get it.


Anonymous said...

What does synechdochinal mean?

mark said...

Ugly word, I grant you. Synechdoche is the rhetorical move where a part stands in for a whole.