Mercantile Typology


It’s a simple matter, really. There are two types of gamblers and two types of gamblers only. There are gamblers of the ring, and there are gamblers of the parlor, and each of these have corresponding analogues among the merchant class.

The cock fight, the track, the bull ring; the movie house, the hard drive, the creative studio — the first casts his full lot with fate and chance, playing in arenas in which single footfalls and instants of (mis)calculation and weather events and logistical snafus and matters of taste and any one of a thousand other factors may claim his entire leverage in an instant. Gamblers of the ring know no curves. They leap atop peaks and tumble down into valleys.

The poker table, the chess board, the symmetrical battlefield; the publisher, the industrialist, the franchisee — the second cuts pure chance with logic and method and strategy and control, no matter how illusory and disloyal these may prove to be. He sips his successes and failures, building long curves and rolling outcomes. Gamblers of the parlor often find themselves in the same troughs with gamblers of the ring, but they’ve often slid there rather than fallen, somehow less worse off for the trip.

The gambler of the ring, it must be said, is more likely to be labeled a “madman” by his peers, since he guards little against potential erasure. But he’s actually the wiser of the two, submitting, as he does, to the depersonalized will of existence. Unlike parlor gamblers, he maintins few illusions about, and ascribes little value to, the significance of his contributions.

Gamblers of the ring ultimately chase emptiness and detachment. They seek consistent, pervasive loss only sporadically punctuated by fleeting moments of possession.

This is good for the soul.

As such, it could very well be that the most compulsive members of this class are in fact the wisest among us.

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Posted in "Thought."


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