Monday, June 24, 2013

Money Wisdom #143

"It is nevertheless astonishing that his [Freud's] conception, which comes from pleasure and pain as the two sovereign masters of human activities, concludes by granting sexuality a predominant place. If pleasure is the ultimate finality of human action and if, as Freud maintains, 'the accomplishment of the sexual act brings the most intense pleasure which is accessible to human beings', the result is that the quest for sexual pleasure will be the strongest tendency of mental life, the most insistent, known or unknown, recognised or ignored, disguised or evident, conscious or unconscious. The place that Freud grants to sexuality would thus be one of the direct consequences of the initial postulate that he shares with the utilitarian current."

Jean-Joseph Goux Pleasure and Pain: At the crossroads of Psychoanalysis and the Political Economy
in  Loaded Subjects  [ed David Bennett] (2012) p. 187

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Money Wisdom #142

"Money's a load of shit anyway - let's all burn our money now.
Let's vote whether we do it."

Hippie on Glastonbury Tor

Chris Brook K Foundation Burn a Million Quid (1997) p.118

Friday, June 21, 2013

On the Metaphysics of Freud

This post has been a stumbling block for me for a while.

Back at the end of 2011 I began writing an extended piece on Owning and Owing. About 10K words in I had to stop. I was trying to find a form of words to describe what was essentially a Freudian view on the birth of currency. But I was doing it without actually specifying 'what' that Freudian view was. Hopefully I can return to that essay eventually. My belief is that an examination of the arrival of the conceptions of Owning and Owing (which I equate to Freud's Totem and Taboo respectively) in human consciousness, can offer a powerful explanation for the birth of currency.

Anyway, in keeping with Freud's idea of the return of the repressed, my failure to describe effectively my own take on the Metaphysics of Freud has come back to haunt me on several occasions. Abandoned blog posts include titles such as 'A ramble on Money and Gravity', 'Banks don't Create Money', 'A Puritanical Storm' and most recently the repressed returned when I attempted to review 'Scribbling on Foucault's Walls' by Quiet Riot Girl. Any attempt I make to relate Money to self or mind - especially in my quasi-academic writing - falls down at this first hurdle.

Part of the problem for me is that the moment I explain my view of Freud's Metaphysics I start, naturally enough, to use metaphysical terms. You'd expect that'd help. But it doesn't. It just seems to result in a bigger knot. So I'm limiting myself to one sentence of quasi-metaphysical language in this post. Here it is; I think I'm an essentialist or realist, indeed in some senses I am a structuralist, whereas these days most of Freud's progeny are constructivist or nominalist and post-structuralist.

That's it for those sorts of words. I'm less and less a fan of big clever words these days. No doubt they'll creep back in somewhere but I'll try my hardest not to let them. One other thing, I definitely not a materialist, ok?

So, Freud.

I studied Freud as an undergraduate in a course run by Christopher Badcock called 'The Psychoanalytic Study of Society'. The course had a profound effect on me. It entailed reading a lot of Freud, and all his later works on society. I had to get 'permission' to do the course as I remember, being an Economic History student rather than Dr Badcock's more normal intake from the sociology department. Often times when you come to a new subject - a new way of thinking about the world - you have the key tenets or laws of the particular view explained and if these chime with the way you see things then, for while at least, it becomes your 'thing'. It wasn't like that with Freud and this course.

Instead of getting more and more particular and complicated, things worked the other way round. I remember starting off being keen to get an understanding of what exactly Freud meant by neurosis or psychosis - what were they? Did they describe neuronal patterns? Behaviours? The flow of mental 'energies'? Dr Badcock had set the course up, logically enough, to take us chronologically through Freud's writings; which was the way he had originally read Freud. The effect this had on me was a gradual reveal of what (for me) sits at the heart of Freud's explanation of mind - the idea of the Life and Death drives as the essential forces through which mental life is created.

Dr Badcock's claim to psychoanalytical fame was that he was the last person to be psychoanalysed by Anna Freud. He wrote this touching memoir last year. All the more surprising then, in fact shocking, that in 2009 he renounced Freud. The course he taught and that had such an influence on me ended in 2002. Dr Badcock's focus was firmly on giving a 'scientific' (i.e. genetic) basis for Freud's work. At the time of my course he was exploring how Freud's work could be related to evolutionary psychology. The subject was riding high - it was just before the human genome project took the wind out of its sails by discovering that there were far fewer genes than had been imagined. So many of those ideas about this gene accounting for this or that behaviour lost their currency.

But, this notwithstanding, Dr Badcock was an inspirational teacher. I'm sad that his original course has finished.  I should confess that the year after I left the LSE I did subject him to a long treatise on how I thought Freud's model of the mind related to Money. It says a lot about him that to him that he took the time to read my ramblings and offer a reply. A brief summary of his latest 'Imprinted Brain Theory' and his renunciation of Freud is here. The book he wrote when he was a young man, his first major work published in 1980 was this one below (direct from my bookshelf). Its a long time since I've read it but I do remember it being somehow prescient of the Thatcher era in its rejection of Catholic masochism. Great cover too (it's Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali)

So for a time after the LSE I did consider jumping a bit further into psychoanalysis. I joined the Orgdyne group (that I've mentioned here before) which was an online experiment in group psychodynamics. But it quickly became apparent to me that the real value I perceived in Freud's work was not the complexity of analysis it afforded, but rather the simplicity of the explanation it offered.

Specifically, to me it suggested an architecture of mind (id-ego-superego), a map of perception (subject-object) which when combined with the life and death force gave a description of our mental landscape. Mental life consists of two opposing forces that play out through the architecture of id-ego-superego, and within the limitations of subject-object perception.

Now, obviously Freud wasn't the first to divide the world into subjects and objects. Nor was he the first to talk about ego. On a recent visit to the Freud museum I strained my eyes in the dim light of Freud's study searching for the Philosophy of Money by Georg Simmel which, although published in 1907 when psychoanalysis was still young, seems to me to speak a similar psychoanalytical language; as if Simmel and Freud were drawing thoughts from the same intellectual plane. Where Freud was a pioneer and genius was in  exploring a pathway from the jumble of our experiences and our reactions to them, all the way back down to the twin fundamental opposing forces.

This essential dualism underlying our reality is mirrored everywhere; in religious conceptions of good & evil and yin & yang, within the dialectic itself and also between the dialectical & rhetorical, and it's in the physical world of expansion & contraction, creation & destruction, and order & chaos. It was also in my own musings prior to my reading of Freud. For example, I had attempted to explain British Industry in terms of Anglo Saxon Vs Celtic group forms. I was exploring the idea that a unique conglomeration of communitarian (broadly Celtic) and individualistic (broadly Anglo Saxon) social forms was what explained Britain's leap into modernity.

I was interested in Robert Owen and the Co-operative movement. I thought that sustainability and price could be married in an eco-label that would save the planet, and I was always aware that I was separated from the coal mines and steel works of South Wales by just one generation. But I was also a clasping clawing 'greed-is-good' 'you-don't-make-an-omelette-without-cracking-a-few-eggs' entrepreneur. I was a Thatcher-loving, red brace wearing, 'ya-I'll-fax-it-over' Yuppie, with a brick for a mobile phone.

So, Freud had no problem convincing me that our minds can simultaneously produce completely opposite emotions. It struck me too, that our feelings and even our thoughts would be reflective of this.


How this revelation squared with my ideas about Money is a long story, one that's being worked out on this blog. But a critical moment came in August 1999, the summer before my final year and directly after Dr Badcock's course. My wife and I had gone with the kids to Jersey to watch the solar eclipse occurring on the 11th August. Seeing the eclipse was moving and profound. There was moment - no more than a few seconds - when the sun moved out from behind the moon; instead of the sun being the Sun, it became a star. It was almost mundane. It transformed into a real thing, a big ball of burning fury, huge, powerful, but a long way distant. And the moon, that was a big old cold lump of grey rock so close you could almost touch it. And then seconds later they were back to being the Sun and the Moon again. That sort of thing puts you in the zone.

The book I had taken with me on the holiday Glyn Davies' A History of Money was a reward read. I'd been quite focused on sticking to reading lists for the subjects I was studying, which was hard for me as I really like to do my own thing. So to have this book to read in the atmosphere of that eclipse created, was wonderful. I didn't have to wait long for the first revelation;
"Loving and fighting are the oldest, most exciting of man's activities, so that it is perfectly natural to find that payments associated with both are amongst the earliest form of money." 
Glyn Davies A History of Money (1994) p.25
A proper anthropological study of Money was awaiting me on my return to the LSE, so this simple sentence, combined with Freud's reliance on the work of Frazer's Golden Bough in Totem and Taboo really fired me up.

And then, just four pages on from the first quote came this.
"...there is an unceasing conflict...."
An unceasing conflict. The words resonated.
"...there is an unceasing conflict between the interests of debtors, who seek to enlarge the quantity of money and who seek busily to find acceptable substitutes, and the interests of creditors, who seek to maintain or increase the value of money by limiting its supply, by refusing substitutes or accepting them with great reluctance, and generally trying in all sorts of ways to safeguard the quality of money." 
Glyn Davies A History of Money (1994) (p. 29)
Glyn Davies was a Welshman. At that moment I felt that was good enough to consider him family. He was a man who had the humility and wisdom to call his book 'A History', not 'The History'. And yet it is a book he waited his whole life to write. Born in 1919 in South Wales to a miner, he enlisted at the start of World War Two becoming a Desert Rat who fought at El Alamein. He took part in the Normandy landings, and twice narrowly cheated death. The first time when he was in the passenger seat of a jeep which was hit by a shell that went straight through the driver's body. The second when as he was closing the door of his armoured car, it was knocked shut by a glancing blow from a shell that failed to explode. After the war he became a primary school teacher while studying economics. He went on to lecture at Strathclyde University, was an advisor to the Secretary of State for Wales and held the post of Julian Hodge Professor of Banking and Finance at UWIST, Cardiff. He died about 9 years after the book was published in January 2003. He was still alive when I first read this quote, and I regret that I didn't write to him to tell him how much reading his book had meant to me.

If you know your history books then Glyn Davis' A History of Money is to Money what AJP Taylor's English History 1914-1949 is to English History. They are beautiful works.

My own father was born in 1932 in South Wales to a miner. He became a teacher, too. And then a headmaster. He was only six when World War Two began. But he did his national service after the war in Riyadh. I felt an affinity with Glyn Davies. And I still feel guilty today for not writing to him. If that doesn't prove Freud right, nothing does.


I still have the essay I sent to Dr Badcock, post-LSE. Of course, now I feel embarrassed by it. When I can bring myself to glance at it, apart from cringing, I realise how I much I try to deflect attention away from Money. The whole thrust of my thinking is that I believe Money to be related to the life and death drives. And yet I consistently seem to focus on either one or the other, either Money or life & death drives. I did do one thing that whilst it might seem arrogant beyond measure really helped me think about things. I renamed the life and death drives as l-force and d-force.

Firstly, I preferred to think about them (or at least not exclude the possibility) that rather than drives emanating from our brains (which is how I think Freud conceived of them), they could be forces that flow through our minds. So instead of getting hooked into the brain and it's material being - as Dr Badcock had done - I was much more open to the idea that l-force and d-force were fundamental universal forces that permeate our universe and our reality. It didn't seem necessary to believe this, in the sense that if you didn't believe it nothing worked, but on the other hand it seemed unnecessary to preclude it.

Secondly, renaming made the terms morally neutral. This is very important.

Most people think that numbers created Money. In other words, our ability to count preceded the cowrie shells, rings, and sacrificial spits of primitive currency. I don't think that. For me, Money precedes number. I appreciate that seems counter-intuitive. But whatever the truth, it seems clear that there is a very close relationship between Money and number.

What was to occupy my mind for the next decade was how number, Money, l-force and d-force could be related. The possibility that such a relationship could be expressed as an equation was not lost on me. So, it was very tempting to see money as a manifestation of d-force; as a manifestation of the destructive, chaotic element of mental life. This appealed to the part of me that was the grandson of a South Wales miner, that liked Robert Owen, and thought eco-labeling would save the planet. And even as late as 2010 I thought if only I could come to a conclusion about this my own life would be so much easier. I felt sure, I could cobble together some reasonable sounding academic proposal on this basis. Blending psychoanalysis with economics might convince some anthropology department in some university, somewhere? Maybe, not. But as is so often the case with what we think are original thoughts, I wasn't completely alone. I wasn't aware back then, but in July 2010 there was a 'landmark' conference on Psychoanalysis, Money and the Economy being held just down the road in London, at my wife's and Glyn Davis' old university. I only found this out recently on my visit to the Freud Museum.

Tempting though it was I couldn't bring myself to see money as a manifestation of d-force. There are two sides to a coin. The corrosion of a bond can be a liberation from the chains of slavery. I knew that Money wasn't 'just' anything. It wasn't 'just' d-force, it wasn't 'just' a manifestation of the Father or a product of anality as some psychoanalytical literature suggests. Money was my starting point. I couldn't allow it to be subsumed into a model just because it made my life easier. Plus, that red-brace wearing, Thatcher-loving Yuppie was still there. My thoughts on Money weren't born through reading. They were born from trading. They were formed on cold early mornings unloading a van with goods I had purchased and then exchanging them, hand-to-hand for coins and notes. They were formed by being amazed that despite the fact that each day bought a different set of people to my stall, with different desires, and each day I had different stock, I could reasonably accurately predict the amount of money I would take. And so could all the other traders. With so many random variables at play, this seemed to me a deeply remarkable phenomenon.

If I abandoned all that. If I denied that side of myself, and those experiences, then what's the point? I would be sacrificing Truth for a career whose purpose was supposed to be the pursuit of Truth.

None of this meant I was any closer to relating my conception of Money to l-force and d-force. I can't work out how the numbers Money produces through currency relates to these forces, nor to the mental structures through which they flow. And that's really where I'm at now.


I try not to read any Economics these days. As much as I can, anyway. Although, its hard to avoid when you do want to read about Money.

Any economic analysis requires three basic things to make any sense at all.

1. A theory of value
2. A theory of mind
3. A description/definition of Money

If you're not made aware of the writer's position on these three things, then what you're reading is really just the fantasy of a careerist. And as such, far more likely to reveal interesting insights into the writer than it is to say anything meaningful about the economy.

At various stages on this blog I've tried to address each of them, separately. But in truth they really inform each other. They're like a holy trinity; both separate and as One, at the same time.

What helped me think about them was reading Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Ostensibly, ZAMM is a theory of value wrapped in a narrative. But it also has something common to all three. To reach his conclusion that Value (or Quality as Pirsig refers to it in the text) is the fundamental force of the universe stimulating everything from atoms to animals to evolve, Pirsig re-envisages the Metaphysical landscape. He argues that Value sits outside Subject/Object Metaphysics. He says:
"The sun of quality does not revolve around the subjects and objects of our existence. It does not passively illuminate them. It is not subordinate to them in any way. It has created them. They are subordinate to it."  
Robert M Pirsig Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1999 [1974]) p.234

In his second book Lila his language is a little more formal but he's saying the same thing;
"What the Metaphysics of Quality adds to [William] James's pragmatism and his radical empiricism is the idea that the primary reality from which subjects and objects spring is value. By doing so it seems unite pragmatism and radical empiricism into a single fabric. Value, the primary test of truth, is also the primary empirical experience. The Metaphysics of Quality says pure experience is value. Experience which is not valued is not experienced. The two are the same. This is where value fits. Value is not at the tail end of a series of superficial scientific deductions that puts it somewhere in a mysterious undetermined location in the cortex of the brain. Value is at the very front of the empirical procession."
Robert M Pirsig Lila 2006 (1991) p.395
Pirsig's re-envisioning of Metaphysics with Value/Quality at its centre impacts upon your theory of mind and your description/definition of Money. Because both Mind and Money are so intertwined with Value we can't just apply our subject/object rules upon them. Both Money and Mind are clearly connected to the duality of our real world. But they are also connected to something that sits outside that world and those rules. They are connected to Value. So if you take Pirsig's theory of value seriously, your theory of mind and your description of Money must reflect that. Where I'm at, at the moment, is saying that Money reconciles the monism of Value and the dualism of human experience through the medium of Mind. Its not a perfect way to put it but its the best I can do at the moment.

So, in this way, Pirsig liberates my view of Freudian Metaphysics. Unlike Dr Badcock I don't have to try to link Freud's ideas to the material world. I can imagine l-force and d-force and not worry about whether they are really just organic drives, simply the result of genetic pre-dispositions, evolutionary imperatives, and big well nourished brains. I don't have to suggest a new field, like Rupert Sheldrake does with his theory of morphic resonance. My view of of reality is that it is created primarily between Value, Money and Mind. Everything else is after the fact.

If you stare at a coin now, you might wonder how I could claim that it relates to something more fundamental than matter, itself. How can Money come before atoms? It does seem an extraordinary thing to suggest. But all I'm doing is sticking to the best description of money that I've been able to muster over the past thirty years. That description is in itself quite mundane - Money is an aspect of reality that mediates Value and enumerates certain relations through currency. I believe that this statement represents the totality of our knowledge of money. Everything else said about it is conjecture.

To put it another way I don't feel bound by materialism either in my conception of money nor in my understanding of Freud.

Marc Shell expresses a similar sentiment in the opening line of his seminal The Economy of Literature;
 "Those discourses are ideological that argue or assume that matter is ontologically prior to thought." (1978) p.1
And that's really where I'm coming from.


I've been buying a few more books of psychoanalytical bent recently and digging out some of the old ones I already have. You may remember that I reviewed and rambled on William H Desmonde's Magic Myth and Money a few months back. And there was one particular book I noticed which I thought might help me write this sort of post.

But I also thought that it might also be just another way to put off writing this post. So in the end, what I've chosen to put down in words is my Metaphysics of Freud. I've not done any any specific reading for it.

If you're frothing at the mouth now, determined to seek vengeance upon me for my gross misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Freud, that's fine. At least you've read this far. In time, I'll read Tauber's book, I'll re-read some Freud and I'll carry on building my small collection of psychoanalytic writing on history and society from the 1950's. I might then be able to frame my thoughts in words that lessen the distance between a more conventional view of Freud's philosophy and and my own particular take on him.

I do suspect though that when I return to this post in the future my conception of the Life and Death drives as  l-force and d-force won't have changed too much. This is largely because in my view of reality it doesn't  matter whether the forces have any basis in material form. I approach them from Value, via Money. Just as Money can take material form, but does not depend upon it, so can these forces. Looking at brain chemicals to understand the mind, is as much use as looking at gold molecules to understand Money. I approach the Metaphysics of Freud on this basis.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Review of Marc Shell's The Economy of Literature

Here's my review of Marc Shell's The Economy of Literature on Amazon. If you find it helpful do go over there and 'like' it. I love it when I get a few 'likes'. It puts me in such a good mood; I help old ladies cross the road, I smile at strangers, and I let other drivers out at junctions. When I don't get 'likes' none of this happens. Go on, do your bit for positive Karma. x

Anyway.... you might guess I liked it. I gave it 5 stars and the title An ambitious, yet purposeful inquiry into the Money of the mind. Truly a seminal work.

Here it is for you folks that won't click an Amazon link.

"This is a seminal work. A small book that seeded the growth of New Economic Criticism - the intersection of literary criticism and economics. Shell was around 30 years old when he wrote it in 1978. It's not an easy read, as you might expect, but I found it more accessible than 'Money, Language and Thought' his 1982 book which I've seen referenced more often in scholarly work on Money. Both are excellent, but for me 'The Economy of Literature' is the key work.

Shell clearly explains the nature and purpose of his inquiry in the opening sentence to his conclusion;

"This book about the economy of literature seeks understand dialectically the relationship between thought and matter by looking from the formal similarities between linguistic and economic symbolization and production to the political economy as a whole."

And his youthful ambition is evident in the opening sentence of the Introduction;

"Those discourses are ideological that argue or assume that matter is ontologically prior to thought."

The first section proper examines the ancient myth of the Ring of Gyges. For me this is both the strongest and most interesting section. Shell doesn't mention them but there are striking parallels between the Ring of Gyges and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Thanks perhaps to Peter Jackson's films, Ring mythologies are still alive in the collective conscious today. Indeed, the ring was a ubiquitous form of (primitive) currency that preceded coinage. As both a symbol of power, and powerful in and of itself, the ring is central to the narrative of civilization. It is an archetype that reforms and reoccurs through the ages. Shell examines how the Greek philosopher's retold the myth and how the theme of visibility and invisibility (the Ring of Gyges has the same power as Tolkien's One Ring) connects with tyranny, knowledge and the execution of power.

The highlight of this section for me was his discussion of Plato, the Good, Sophism and the money of the mind. Often when writers scratch beneath the surface of their subject and examine the underlying metaphysical problems, they will return to the Platonic/Socratic dialogue. They then tell us about the Truth and the Good, dialectic and rhetoric, philosophers and sophists, but rarely do they consider how Money influences the formation of ideas within our minds. Shell does this brilliantly.

The four other main sections of the book develop and expand Shell's radical idea that Money is buried deeply in our reality. Its effects on our thought are fundamental, but too often we 'wish to avoid the economics of literature'. Talking about Money is taboo, its influence is denied; especially so, in the consideration of artistic endeavour. Shell brings into the light the Money form that exists in our thought and the reality we create.

If the names Richard Seaford, Dierdre Mccloskey, and Joel Kaye mean something to you - if you know their work - then Shell's 'The Economy of Literature' is absolutely essential reading. I can't recommend it highly enough."

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Review of Keith Hart's Money in an Unequal World

My review of Keith Hart's Money in an Unequal World is here on Amazon. As always, please pop over and have a look and tickle my ego little with a 'like' if you think I deserve it.

I'm sorry there is no ramble on it. Its certainly worthy of one, but I left it too long between the reading of it and the writing of the ramble.

Here's the review:

"This is a book that doesn't really work. It's not without merit, and it's author is clearly a successful and knowledgeable scholar but his attempt to write this book 'from memory' falls down in the areas one might expect. It is a rambling treatise on the unfairness of the moneyed world; sometimes engaged with political and social thinkers, sometimes with anecdotes from the author's life. It feels very much like an extended 'off the cuff' lecture. As informal lectures tend to, Keith focuses attention on people and theories which have recently fallen under his gaze. Hence, John Locke whom Keith says he was 'discovering' whilst writing the book, receives more attention than he otherwise might.

However, you can't help but like Keith. Even though he sometimes leaves you frustrated - he tells a story about being arrested by the Ghanaian police for being a 'fence' and then stops without saying how it spanned out - it's clear that this is an academic who has lived in the real world. In fact, in my view the book would have benefited from a re-balancing in favour of the anecdotal and personal, and away from the theoretical and academic. There are plenty of other places to find expositions of sociological and anthropological thought on economy. This book ends up being neither one thing nor the other. It's a close call though. You do feel that if he could have linked his personal stories to the theories of money more effectively this book may have been sitting on as many bookshelves as Graeber's debt - and perhaps, given its more personal nature, been even more widely read.

In the final analysis the book failed to convince me of Keith's central idea that money is memory. Indeed, I think adhering to this idea may have hampered his writing somewhat. Money is tricky to pin down.

Nevertheless I still feel a little mean just giving it 3 stars. The expositions of theory are clearly written. The 'guides to further reading' which appear at the end of each chapter and include brief comments from Keith on the merits of the works cited are particularly useful. And Keith's encyclopedic knowledge and the huge area he covers in the 320 odd pages are bound to reveal something new to you - for me it was Weber's work on money. Nevertheless, there is a sense of 'an opportunity lost' with this book. And ultimately that was the feeling that remained with me after reading. When describing his childhood experiences living near Old Trafford, Keith creates an expectation of deep insight with lines like 'the unified roar of fifty thousand men was truly bestial, a reminder to women and children alike of what raw collective male power can be.' Or, his descriptions of how, as a child, he gained his understanding of money through his trips to the local sweet shop. The expectation is for a truly insightful and profound book on money that delves deeply into Keith's own psyche, and thereby mirrors our own relationship to money. Unfortunately with this particular book he failed to deliver on that promise.

There is a sad personal tale in the writing of the book, too. With the original manuscript nearly complete Keith's laptop was stolen and never recovered. It was the only copy. Hence, the idea of 'writing from memory' - especially when combined with his central idea that Money is a form of memory - seemed a natural and practical solution. It's a shame it didn't really work. I hope he tries again."

Friday, June 14, 2013

Money Wisdom #141

"The basic characteristic of sublimation is the desexualization of sexual energy by its redirection toward new objects. But as we have seen, desexualization means disembodiment. New objects must substitute for the human body, and there is no sublimation without the projection of the human body into things; the dehumanization of man is his alienation of his own body. He thus acquires a soul (the higher spirituality of sublimation), but the soul is located in things. Money is 'the world's soul'. And gold is the proper symbol of sublimation, both as the death of the body and as the quest for a 'higher' life which is not that of the body. Spengler says:
Gold is not a colour; colours... are natural. But the metallic gleam, which is practically never found in natural conditions, is unearthly.... The gleaming gold takes away from the scene, the life and the body their substantial being... And thus the gold background possesses, in the iconography of the Western Church, an explicit dogmatic significance. It is an express assertion of the existence and activity of the divine spirit."
Norman O Brown Life Against Death - The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (1959) p.281

Money Wisdom #140

"In the Gospels (which articulate the redemption of the human economy of credit and debt through the divine economy of belief and grace), Jesus' interpretation of Caesar's coin helps to define the Christian relationship of man to God. The telling of the story illustrates Jesus' prudent economy of truth (withholding the bare truth) as well as his political economy.

'Tell us, then what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?' But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, 'Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the money for the tax.' And they brought him a coin. And Jesus said to them, 'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.' (Matt. 22:17-21. Cf. Luke 20:21-25 and Mark 12:14-17)
Jesus escapes his enemies' attack by offending neither the nationalist parties (with an overt approval of paying taxes) nor the seat of the empire (with an overt disapproval of paying taxes). He is a prudent steward or economist of the truth."

Marc Shell  The Economy of Literature (1978) p.82

Money Wisdom #139

"... the methods of mathematics can only present money as a one-dimensional phenomenon; there is, strictly speaking, no mathematical phenomenology of money. A scientific phenomenon, moreover, whose one concrete dimension is time, which occurs only in first order terms, inevitably reduces to elementary arithmetic."

Thomas Crump The Phenomenon of Money (1981) p.271

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Money Wisdom #138

"The work of art contains more than its skeletal verbal structure, however objective this may be; it involves more than the elements described and analysed by nonliterary disciplines; it possesses a unique essence that reveals itself only to the individual consciousness."

Ronald Grimsley Psychoanalysis and Literary Criticism in Historical Perspective
in Benjamin Wolman (Ed) The Psychoanalytic Interpretation of History (1973) p.73

Monday, June 3, 2013

Money Wisdom #137

"The critical thinkers I have studied in The Economy of Literature know and are uneasy that a special logic, the money of the mind, informs and cannot be expelled from their thinking. As a god or an 'equal to the gods', Jesus tried to eject from inside the walls of the Temple the classical moneychanger and his changing coins. He wanted to keep the monetary agents of homogenization and uniformity out of view of the ark where he supposed the divine One to dwell. Plato, however, knew that money could hardly be eliminated from the Academy where human lovers of wisdom conversed. He knew that hypothecation informs hypothesization and that change-making informs the dialectical division of the One. Plato recognized and took into his account of metaphorization and truth the symmetries between money and the Idea or between rhetoric and its counterpart, dialectic.

The history of theory from Aristotle to Hegel to Heidegger is a series of swollen footnotes to Plato. These notes try - as does this book - to understand and define themselves against his thought. In the end, however, there is no easy way out of the field where theory encounters and tries to account for its own internalization of economic form. Wagner's operatic characters, perhaps, could return to the Rhine maidens the gold from which was fashioned the ring of Nebelungen, and perhaps Rousseau could reject the hypothetical offer of a ring of Gyges. The literary and political theorist, however, cannot ignore the economy of literature. There is no retreat from, no safe lookout onto, no island in the midst of, this intellectual battlefield."

Marc Shell The Economy of Literature (1978) p.156

Money Wisdom #136

"The language of modern men is a spoken language imitating written language. Rousseau considers the difference between hieroglyphic writing, by which things are represented, and modern abstract alphabetic writing, by which sounds are represented. Alphabetical signs, in fact, encourage the reader to forget things; the representation must pass through sounds rather than directly to things. For Rousseau, the historical development of he alphabet corresponds to that of a monetary economy and to that of a police state.

Marc Shell The Economy of Literature (1978) p.123

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Money Wisdom #135

"Already in the eighteenth century an important precursor Jean-Jacques Rousseau, had called attention to the incompatibility of society and man's original nature: civilized man, he affirmed, had made reflection subservient to his pride and passion instead of using it to attain a proper understanding of his place in the universal order. Consequently appearance differed from reality, and men who had become the slaves of opinion were no longer capable of heeding the voice of nature; what they consciously strove to become no longer corresponded to what they really were. If Kant set definite limits to the valid exercise of reason, later thinkers, such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, actually rejected reason in favor of an outlook that identified the meaning of human existence with the activity of the will. Kierkegaard also challenged the rationalist pretensions of Hegelianism in the name of Christian Freedom, which accorded priority to faith and grace instead of reason and nature. Before Freud, the German philosopher Eduard von Hartmann, drawing freely on Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Schelling, had elaborated 'the philosophy of the unconscious'. Hartmann attached a particular philosophical meaning to the term, identifying the unconscious with a higher, almost divine mode of creative being, which was treated as the absolute source of all existence. Henri Bergson, a contemporary of Freud, believed that intuition and duration as well as change and movement were more authentic aspects of ultimate truth than the intellectual conclusions of the mathematical and experimental sciences. Novelists such as Stendhal and Dostoevsky had stressed the importance of will and energy as the source of human activity, which often ran counter to the principles of everyday morality. Balzac's characters were also driven on by violent, obsessive passions; Balzac himself was fascinated by occultism and illuminism. The German Romantics had already proclaimed the value of poetry as a means of penetrating the deeper mysteries of existence, whereas later French poets, such as Baudelaire and Rimbaud and those of the Symbolist movement, appeared to add a new dimension to the aesthetic consciousness by exploring new aspects of the poetic imagination. Because of the rapid spread of these influences, nature was no longer envisaged in a static, abstract manner but was viewed as an organic, dynamic unity."
(emphasis my own)

Ronald Grimsley Psychoanalysis and Literary Criticism in Historical Perspective
in Benjamin Wolman (Ed) The Psychoanalytic Interpretation of History (1973) p.50

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Money Wisdom #134

"Coins destroyed the aura of individual objects and encouraged a sense of the universal equality of things."

Marc Shell The Economy of Literature (1978) p.86