Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ding, dong, the warlocks are convicted

Thank goodness the jury totally socked it to Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay. If the Enron executives had managed to weasel their way out of that mess like Scrushy I would have completely lost faith in our ability to control our big corporations.

One thing I found especially interesting was NPR's coverage of the conviction, in which they interviewed the Enron whistleblower Rudy Sutherland to get a reaction to the conviction. Normally such "reaction interviews" follow a predictable script: "I'm so relieved . . . it really was a tragedy . . . justice was served . . . " The reporters are trying to get 95% gracious self-righteousness with 5% schadenfreude.

Instead, Ms. Sutherland was remarkable candid and, more surprisingly, without rancor. She said the conviction was "not surprising," which is nice because normally such interviewees are inclined to puff up the importance of the event to bask in their own reflected glory. Madeleine Brand asked her about some of her recommendations to Ken Lay in her famous memo warning of the company's immanent collapse, and there too she showed unusual candor: "Well, sure, I offered some best-case scenarios, but only because if you're too much of a Cassandra they just throw your memo in the trash." (I am completely heartened that an accounting executive can make such a casual reference to the Illiad . . . learning is not yet dead.) She did not attempt to justify herself for selling her own Enron stock, nor did she confess to wrong-doing either. "I don't know why they didn't charge me with insider trading."

But best of all was when she was asked, point-blank, for an emotional response. "I just think its sad, because they haven't accepted any responsibility for wrong-doing. They will go to jail bitter, angry men." I can't but my finger on it, but somehow this moved me. Anyone can see the tragedy in thousands of people wiped out financially . . . it takes something more to see the tragedy in the loss of the two souls who brought it about.


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