Thursday, September 26, 2013

Money Wisdom #203

"It has long been known that the first markets were sacred markets, the first banks were temples, the first to issue money were priests or priest kings. But these economic institutions have been interpreted as in themselves secular-rational, though originally sponsored by sacred auspices. The crucial point in Laum's argument is that the institutions were in themselves sacred. Laum derives the very idea of equivalence (equal value) from ritual tariffs of atonement, the very idea of a symbol of value from rituals of symbolic substitution, and the very idea of price form the ritual distribution of sacred food. In other words, the money complex, archaic or modern, is inseparable from symbolism; and symbolism is not, as Simmel thought, the mark of rationality but the mark of the sacred."

Norman O Brown Life against Death - The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (1959) p.246

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