Over at the LA Times Walter Murch and Lawrence Wechsler make a convincing argument that it’s time to retire the term ‘bubble’ when it comes to speculative excess:
The word “bubble” just has an inescapably happy feel to it, conjuring up kids and parties and sudden iridescent poppings, screams of laughter, the giddy clapping of happy hands and an overall lack of consequence. That was fun; now where’s the cake?
Even more so when the word gets paired with “tulip” or “South Sea.” Where could the harm possibly be in such blithe and fragrant things? Certainly not in the words themselves: exotic petals, swaying grass-skirted maidens, spheres of trembling insubstantiality.
So what do they suggest as a more appropriate term?
What if, instead of that playful word bubble, we tried something a bit more accurately descriptive when growth at any cost became the goal. Say, “tumor”: “the dot-com tumor,” “the subprime tumor,” “the derivatives tumor.”
Would anyone seriously gainsay the highest possible vigilance over the proper functioning of their own body or doubt the need for strong regulation? Who, facing the prospect of a tumorous outbreak or living with a body demonstrably prone to such outbreaks, would entrust that body to a band of physicians blithely committed to laissez faire regarding these fatal bubbles of flesh?
Words matter. Metaphors frame thought. Pay them heed and tend them well.
Read the full editorial over at the LA Times website. The Vancouver housing tumor?