When Federico Zeri, Evelyn Harrison, Thomas Hoving, Georgios Dontas, and all the others looked at the kouros and felt an "intuitive repulsion," they were absolutely right. In the first two seconds of looking—in a single glance—they were able to understand more about the essence of the statue than the team at Getty was able to understand after fourteen months. Blink is a book about those first two seconds.
There are various meanings to the word blink including the one Malcolm Gladwell spent 277 pages on explaining in his best seller of the same name. He takes great pains to illustrate how we make decisions and choices without thinking in an instant. It focuses on great decision makers and others that made great mistakes with decisions made in a blink. There is a different kind of blink, one that signals giving up or giving in to an opponent or challenge.
Last week saw decisions that if had they had to be made by the same people in an instant would have certainly been completely different. Instead, Angela Merkel and Chief Justice John Roberts are said to have blinked. Fans of both say they caved into pressure from mightier forces or mightier personalities. If it were the former, it would be easier to deal with, but conventional wisdom holds that they caved to forces that have no real domain over them.
Chief Justice Roberts shouldn't be afraid of President Obama even if he took a tongue-lashing in front of the world and Merkel should have no fear of Italy and Germany outside the soccer pitch. So, why did they both blink in the eyes of so many observers? I've already ventured a guess on Roberts that got you guys fired up and I think the same sort of long-term thinking went into Merkel's decision to lend directly to banks.
I do find it interesting that the same experts that missed big time on the Supreme Court decision, and let's face it even if you got it right it was for the wrong reason, are now making additional predictions on future cases. I happen to think that in the end both Roberts and Merkel did what they did as the right thing that doesn't violate their personal convictions but fits within the parameters of the circumstances.
Their form of blinking adds yet another meaning to the word.
So, the big question this week is whether Mario Draghi will step up to the plate and blink, too. Right now, the street is all but convinced the ECB will cut rates and if that doesn't happen there will be hell to pay (and money to lose). Moreover, many are looking for another anemic jobs report to be the final straw that allows Ben Bernanke to come to the rescue as well. One of the odd things about these would-be saviors is they misread the super hero handbook. You're supposed to save the damsel in distress while she's still alive.