...demonstrating that a Golden Rule inspired business conduct leads
to a superior judgment in finance and public policy ...
... "Don't do to others what you don't want them to do to you"...
Dialogue with the Alter Ego complaining about "Portnoy’s Complaint" by Philip Roth, first drafted on Oct. 14,
published on Oct. 15, 2013
“... what was it with these Jewish parents, what, that they were able to make us little Jewish boys believe
ourselves to be princes on the one hand, (...) and such bumbling, incompetent, thoughtless, helpless, selfish, evil
little shits, little ingrates, on the other! (...) Where did you [...parents...] get the idea that the most wonderful thing I [...
your boy...] could be in life was obedient? A little gentleman? (...) Mother, the beach at Fire Island is strewn with the
bodies of nice Jewish boys, in bikinis and Bain de Soleil also little gentlemen in restaurants, (...) [...and...] (...) your
little gentlemen are all grown up now. And there on lavender beach towels they lie, in all their furious narcissism.”
Philip Roth, Portnoy’s Complaint, (Vintage Books: New York 1994), page 119 – 126,
originally published in 1967
Question by Alter Ego of Noah denkt™ (AE): What does Noah denkt™ make of Philip Roth’s above mentioned
outcry against parents who attempt to educate their little sons to be well-behaved gentlemen? After all, it is
probably fair to assume that the brains behind Noah denkt™ have suffered some of the same deformations
that Philip Roth is deriding here?
Answer by Noah denkt™ (Nd): Well, "Portnoy’s Complaint" was published in 1967 when the sexual liberation of
60s was just making its first inroads into society. So, you have to put this into its historical context. After all, it’s
quite unlikely that there are still too many parents around these days who view it as their first priority to be a
role model of obedience and gentlemanly restraint for their kids.
AE: But “furious narcissism” is still being created to this day even if sexual liberation isn’t so much the issue
anymore. So let’s not go into denial about this phenomenon particularly because it pertains to us as well.
Nd: Your are right. Sorry for trying to evade your question by striking an academic pose.
AE: So, what do you make then of Roth’s argument?
Nd: Okay, he may be onto something but we also ask ourselves: How do you get a job, how do you make a
living for yourself, if you do not choose to be an agreeable, yet ambitious career-minded conformist?
Obviously, writing about your attempt at personal freedom and independence is no longer an option, since
Philip Roth and others have done this many times before. In other words, everything that needs to be said in
this respect has long been said before.
AE: We thought that the way out of the over-achiever conundrum is to be an entrepreneurial pioneer along the
lines of what Noah denkt™ is doing?
Nd: Sure, but to do that you have to be a very narcissistic and headstrong fellow. Otherwise you are going to
perish in the attempt.
AE: So far, Noah denkt™ has been proud of its steadfast consistency?
Nd: Look, it might surprise the narcissistic mind of yours, but for a change not everything in this dialogue is
about us. We also have to think occasionally about the tons of people out there whose souls haven’t been
twisted and turned as much as ours. So do not forget the mellow narcissists that need to make a living too.
AE: Is there something as a mild and mellow narcissism?
Nd: Well, supposedly, the many Jewish boys in bikinis and Bain de Soleil that were strewn on the beaches of
Fireland Island were not all that furious about their lack of self-assurance and ease. Otherwise, they would
have turned into writers and comedians as well.
AE: This equally implies, however, that Philip Roth and others should be grateful to their parents for pushing
the guilt-button so hard on them that as grown-ups they had no other chance to manage their stress but to
successfully write about it.
Nd: Is it that wonderful to have stellar success? Think about the pain you have to go through in order to get
there? And think about the work it entails to deal with the loss of privacy that comes with success? In view of
that it would probably be a lot easier to be a regular carpenter with a normal, inconspicuous life-style?
AE: Well, as you continuously and rightly so point out, the economic pressures have by now reached the life of
the inconspicuous as well. There is no natural self-assurance any more. The global marketplace has effectively
done away with that. Hence, it’s better to be a furious narcissist than a regular Joe. At least that gives you a
chance to build something for yourself whereas the others continue to be rocked and rolled by forces they
neither understand nor control.
Nd: Tell that to my carpenter neighbor. He will laugh in your face before you are even done with your
Reminder: Noah denkt™ is a project of Wilhelm ("Wil") Leonards and his Landei Selbstverlag (WL & his LSV). Consequently, all
rights to the texts that have been published under the Noah denkt™brand name are reserved by WL & his LSV.
The commentary and the reasoning that was provided on this page is for informational and/or educational purposes only and it is not
intended to provide tax, legal or investment advice. It should therefore not be construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to
buy, or a recommendation for any security or any issuer by WL & his LSV or its Noah denkt™ Project. In fact, WL & his LSV
encourage the user to understand that he alone is responsible for determining whether any investment, security or strategy is
appropriate or suitable for him. And to leave no doubt as to what this means we urge our user to also note our extended Legal
Portnoy's Complaint, creative narcissists, furious narcissists, how to deal with narcissism, how to manage
narcissism, how to make a living as a narcissist, how to earn a living as a narcissist, how to make money as a