Antifragile: 9. Fat Tony and the Fragilistas

Following the schedule of our reading calendar.

We are presented here with a short literary presentation of two characters already known from previous books: Nero Tulip and Fat Toni. The first is probably a kind of Nassim’s alter ego with a lot of coincidences in their lives and characters. The second, Fat Toni, represents the essence of a man of action in Taleb’s sense of the word. Somehow Fat Toni is a kind of guy and personality that Taleb admires although is completely out of reach to him.

Both guys, coming from two universes, have understood the basic game going on: suckers that don’t understand the non-predictability of our world will loose all their money. Each one has arrived to this understanding from different ways: one from erudite comprehension of the subject, the other by everyday life experience.

The text is full of deep reflections that show emotional turbulence in Taleb’s (everybody’s?) life:

To Nero one should first warn people that they are suckers, while Tony was against the very notion of warning. “You will be ridiculed,” he said; “words are for sissies.” (…) These people won’t give you and your ideas respect unless you take their money. (p. 148)

There is another dimension to the need to focus on actions and avoid words: the health-eroding dependence on external recognition. People are cruel and unfair in the way they confer recognition, so it is best to stay out of that game. (p. 148)


One thought on “Antifragile: 9. Fat Tony and the Fragilistas

  1. The chapter look very autobiographic indeed. N.T (Nero Tulip, Nassim Taleb) and Tulip sounds like Taleb. There is a reference of Nero as practicing, weightlifting which Taleb also does. He also explained somewhere else how he passed months at home reading esoteric books on statistics, risk management and probabiblity. Also, according to his wikipedia entry he made good financial deals during the 2007 economic crisis.
    Another point worth mentioning is this idea of Fat Tony being able to smell fragility. It is a very straightforward and powerful way to tell us -like Carlos commented last week- that to be antifragile is a question of action and guts, not of reflection.

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