Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Marc Shell - 'The Past Present and Future of Money'

On Saturday, I discovered the deep joy of having an hour to kill whilst sitting in my van AND getting a decent 4G connection on my mobile phone. I did a random search on youtube for Marc Shell, as you do, and to my delight found a lecture. It's split into a three videos. Sound quality is not great, and the framing is a little odd (go closer in Mr Camera Man!),,,, but hey, its Marc Shell !

At 4.20 you'll hear Prof Shell talk about the 'One and the Many' being the guiding theme to the first, much longer section of his presentation. You know you're dealing with some serious brain power, then. As I've touched upon elsewhere on this blog, he's some done brilliant work around this theme. Not only with Money but with Sex too - see his essay on On the Want of Incest in the Human Family. I've already tried and abandoned several attempts to link these two themes - not only in a philosophical sense analogizing conceptions of the One and the Many to Universal Siblinghood, but also in an historical sense trying to find some historical narrative that reveals Money's presence, and contextualizes currency within the sexual. The obvious example - and the one I keep coming back too - is Herodotus's version of Gyges. I'll get there one day.

On history, Prof Shell presents a wonderful division of money into epochs. He suggests the two semantically related substances electrum and electricity as boundaries in money's story. Between the two bookends of money's story, he says, 'there occurred a momentous change'.

Anyway, Part Two

And, Part Three (in this part he considers the idea of Counterfeiting - I talked about the moral complexity of this in my old essay on it, and would recommend the book on JSG Boggs if you're interested in the ideas):


Seemingly unrelated to money is this video where Prof Shell talks about his book Stutter. Because its not ABOUT  MONEY of course, I've not read it. It's a fascinating interview. And it doesn't take much to realize that, actually, themes that are both similar and the same cut across Prof Shell's work. In last year's Dylanfest (it was the centenary of Dylan Thomas's birth in 2014) I was thinking about the difference between meaning and sound - DT famously evokes 'feelings' in the reader through the rhythm and melody of his words as if speaking in the language of the unconscious - a language that seems rooted in the sounds of words more so than their meaning . Prof Shell talks about sound and meaning in the context of stuttering...... and how stuttering other verbal and literary afflictions (such as an inability to stop punning) suggest a different appreciation of meaning and sound; such that we become aware of the importance of sound and the unimportance of meaning.


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