Saturday, August 27, 2016

Money Wisdom #412

"To God we have become unaccustomed; of God we have become unaccustomed to speak, even to think, especially to write. If we slip and find ourselves thinking, speaking, or even writing of God, it seems embarrassing, horribly embarrassing - even when our inquiry is critical. All of this God stuff was supposed to have been over a long time ago. When someone ventures a word otherwise, the page tends to become a confessional without walls where our most intimate thoughts and unthoughts stand revealed for all to see and hear. Faced with the prospect of such exposure, we grow modest and withdraw. Devising strategies of avoidance in an effort not to think and not say what nonetheless we cannot not think and cannot not say, we turn to history, politics, economics, literature, art. If it is no longer professionally and socially acceptable to speak of God, perhaps we can continue to think about what really matters by examining other forms of cultural expression. Thus, critics repeat - usually without realizing or wanting to realize what they are doing - the nineteenth century gesture of translating theology into philosophy and art. Why do we still search, still probe, still question? What calls us to respond? What disrupts the present? Unless our work is 'academic' in the worst sense of the word, something else haunts the search that is our research. What is this 'something else' and why will it give us no rest?

Mark C Taylor About Religion (1999) p.30-1

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Money Burning at F23 and other adventures

Oh, my poor neglected blog !

Rather than explain why I haven't posted since May 23rd - Gosh, we've had Brexit, the Lympix, F23, and Aug 23rd burning since then - I'm just going to point you to an essay I put up on Medium about 36 hours ago.



(If you can spare a click, or even a comment, on Medium itself, I promise you eternal unconditional love. America is in desperate need of all that I talk about in the essay, and your clicking and commenting will help get the medium editors to notice it.)

Money Burning Ritual at F23

I've had a very busy few months. There now exists the world's first magazine for money burners AND a £230 currency collage of The Money Flame (the logo I use on The Money Burner's Manual) . And of course, most important of all, the amazing money burning ritual at Festival 23 has happened - IN REAL LIFE (not just in my head). It's all in the essay.

Just prior to publishing the essay, I revisited Overhall Grove with Angela and we did a burning ritual....  a year on, from the one that inspired me to write The Money Burner's Manual. The Record of all UK Burnings has been updated accordingly. I've also been told several stories about burnings that people have done over the years. Keep those coming !!

Couple of things up coming. The event at the Cockpit Theatre on Sunday Oct 23rd is something I'm looking forward too enormously. Do try to make that if you can. There'll be a Cosmic Trigger cabaret on Saturday Night too, at The Others in Stoke Newington. I entirely confident that imagining a better weekend than this is a complete impossibility.

It also looks like I'll be talking about Money Burning at The Finance and Society Intersections Conference on 3/4 November. I'll let you know more details, when I get them. Super exited about that too, Finance and Society is a brilliant new journal which you'll have seen me link to incessantly on social media. Key note speaker is Nigel Dodd. I mean, come on Money Freaks ! Does it get any better than that?

Other secret things planned too. But I might not tell you about them, even after I've done them. In fact, I've said too much already. So I best sign off here.

Oh, PS.... I'm selling the last 23 copies of Burning Issue here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Money Burners - Your Input Needed !

This morning I sent out an email to all the money burners I know.  It was a call for  writing, art, or any other media for Burning Issue The World's first magazine exclusively for the money burning community.

I can't reveal all the details in this public post.  There are some secret activities afoot that would be spoiled by early disclosure. If you are a money burner please email me as soon as possible and I will forward you the email so you can have your say in Burning Issue. Non-burners need not apply.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Money Wisdom #411

"...it is imperative to realise that alchemy is not creating something 'new'; rather, it is ultimately seeking to render the pristine ontology - the nondual ground of being - present to living perception. This underscores a significant point, for in understanding the goal of alchemy as 'perfection', it must be realised that the perfection in question is not teleological, but perennial. That is to say, the originary or primordial nature does not exist in the future, nor should it be confused with the past; it is, in the words of Gebser, ever-present and ever-originating:
Origin is ever-present. It is not a beginning, since all beginning is linked with time. And the present is not just the 'now', today, the moment or a unit of time. It is ever-originating, an achievement of full integration and continuous renewal. Anyone able to 'concretize', i.e., to realize and effect the reality of origin and the present in its entirety, supersedes 'beginning' and 'end' and the mere here and now. (Gebser Gesamtausgabe Vol 2, 15)
Whether the ever-present origin is cast in terms of the Taoist golden elixir (jindan), the Buddha-element of Tibetan alchemy (bud-dha-dhatu), or, in the western alchemical cosmologies, as the logos or potential cosmos subsisting as both initium and telos in the originary chaos, many of the world's alchemical traditions cohere in viewing the 'goal' of alchemy not as the creation of some future perfection, but rendering the present as a pre-existent, eternal incorruptibility. Whether alchemy proceeds by 'progress' or 'reversal', the core of the process must not be understood as reversion or advancement in a rigidly temporal sense, but rather as a process of 'polishing the mirror'. It is a purification of temporal accretions in order to let the boundless existentiating Urgrund shine forth in an unobstructed, uninhibited manner according to its innate, diaphanous nature. "

Aaron Cheak Circumambulating The Alchemical Mysterium in Alchemical Traditions (2013) p.42-43

Money Wisdom #410

" If alchemy appears elusive. it is precisely because it cuts across categories ordinarily seen as mutually exclusive. For this reason, alchemy maybe better approached not so much as a fixed domain of activity, but as a nondual process. Indeed, its sphere of operation is better comprehended as existing between domains, or better yet, as the medium in which more 'fixed' domains proceed. Like the fusible nature of metals, this medium may be regarded as the 'substance' from which fixed forms 'solidify', and into which they 'dissolve'. As such, it is the conditio sine qua non for transmutation and dissolution, for converting one form into another, and for dissolving and abrogating the familiar boundaries or borders between apparently fixed states. "

Aaron Cheak Circumambulating The Alchemical Mysterium in Alchemical Traditions (2013) p.32

Thursday, May 5, 2016

My Review of Mark C Taylor's 'Confidence Games'

This review appears on amazon here so if it immanentizes your eschaton do be a dear, pop over there and hit the like button. This van-driving philosopher-of-money really appreciates those little one-click ego-boosts, they really help get him through the day. Thank you most kindly.



Religion never goes away. It just takes on new forms.

"For a good deal of this book I speculated that a five star review seemed a certain outcome. I've ended up giving it four. If it were possible with Amazon's star system, I'd give it four and a half. The half-star loss relates to the divide between Taylor's exposition of theory and his application of theory.

In his exposition of theory Taylor delves in to the minds of the most exciting and perceptive writers on money in the last hundred years or so; Georg Simmel, Georges Bataille, Norman O Brown, and Marc Shell are my among personal favorites. Taylor also gives as clear an exposition of the philosophy of Hegel as I believe is possible. On his home ground of the philosophy of religion and in explaining the various strands of theology, Taylor in a magnificently clear writer. For me, the general picture of money that he paints in the book - that metaphysical ideas about Being underlie philosophical theories, which in turn underlie a further layer of economic theories, about money - is uncontroversial and irrefutable, although simultaneously largely ignored or forgotten by mainstream thought.

However when he applies those ideas and theories to create a financial and economic history, the book falters just a touch. It's certainly as good as most things I've read, and in many respects (largely because of his grasp of theology) much better. But it just didn't quite chime for me. The financial and economic histories that dominate the middle section of the book seem like a literature review that has too narrow a focus.. To say I was disappointed would be overstating it - this is still a brilliant book of exceptionally clarity given the complexity of its subject - but what I felt was that he didn't quite manage to deliver on what he (implicitly) promises. The beginning of the book situates the reader quite intimately within Taylor's life. It is written as a response to his young son's question to him after the 1987 stock market crash; 'Where did all the money go?' And although Taylor does reference one of his own financial adventures, as a reader I felt a little short changed in terms of an intimacy with Taylor himself. If the book had been a conversation, I'd have stopped him halfway through and said 'Yeah, but what do *you* think? What does money mean to you?'

Perhaps a more grounded criticism than the book's lack of intimacy could be leveled against Taylor's fluid use of the terms money, currency, finance, capital etc. They tended to meld into one another without a proper attempt to delineate, or at least describe each phenomena in terms of their differences to one another, This is a common problem with work on money. It's just a little surprising here, because Taylor seems so interested in the relation between language and money. For example, near the end of the book he gives a brilliant and persuasive dissection of the etymology of 'speculate'. One of Taylor's key notions can be summed up in the psychoanalytical phrase 'the return of the repressed' - or perhaps in philosophical terms the Nietzschean 'eternal return of the eversame'. He is right to highlight these ideas especially in relation to money which has a particularly mysterious relation to time and space.

In relation to these ideas. Taylor makes the key point that religion is not 'replaced' by art or capitalism, but rather merely 'displaced' and that each of them continue to work through one another. However, I'm not sure he manages to escape framing reality in evolutionary perspective - especially when he moves from the exposition of theory to its application. I think that he may have been helped if he could have teased apart money (the idea, outside time and space) and its representations as currency, capital, finance etc (the manifestations of the idea within time and space). A final niggling criticism might be his use of William Gaddis's novel as the theme to link the book together. It felt a little tagged on, rather than organic or intrinsic to the run of the text.

Often in my reviews I tend to criticize rather than praise. So to redress the balance a little I want to end on a more positive note. I was pleased to see him bringing together the work of Freud and Simmel. This is something few academics have done despite, what seem to me, the obvious affinities between their work. Even now, a decade or so after the publication of Confidence Games, and amidst a surge in interest in the brilliant 'Philosophy of Money' by Simmel, there is little written about what is shared in the thought of Freud and Simmel.

'Confidence Games' would be a book I'd put on every Economics 101 course. Making it required reading for economics students would reveal to them what lies underneath the surface of their area of study. Thinkers like Taylor (I could mention here Joel Kaye too) draw out the theological roots of economic analysis. Its to the detriment of the academic understanding of money that thinkers like Taylor and Phillip Goodchild (Theology of Money) are, for the most part, ignored by mainstream economic thought. This is especially true here in the UK where the theological perspective is often treated with some derision even by the broader social sciences (its only really in Literature studies that such works find a home). I have quite a large collection of books on money, and Taylor and Goodchild appear in no more than a couple of bibliographies. In the two best, most recent books on money - Dodd's 'The Social Life of Money' (2014) and Graeber's 'Debt' (2010) - their names and work are entirely absent. This is no criticism of Dodd or Graeber, it merely indicates that there is a gulf between studies of the social, and studies of the divine, that needs to be bridged.

Finally, as proof positive that Taylor has hit a home run with me (despite his mere four stars - he's in the best of company, I gave Norman O Brown's Life Against Death four stars too!!) I've added 'About Religion' to my bookshelf and I'm very much looking forward to reading a book by Taylor where he's writing on home ground. "

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Money Wisdom #409

"As the condition of the possibility of differences, virtual reality eludes the very structural oppositions it nonetheless enables. Neither present nor absent, here nor there, the virtual is spectral. To understand the importance of this point, it is helpful to note that the word specter harbors a tale with an intriguing web of associations. A specter is, of course, an apparition, phantom or ghost. The word derives from the Latin spectrum (appearance, image, apparition) whose stem, spek, means to see or regard. Spek is also the root of speculate as well as species. To speculate means both to mediate or reflect and to engage in buying or selling something with an element of risk on the chance of making a profit. The Latin species means, among other things, shape, form, outward appearance, and by extension, representation, image and appearance. While the English word species is most often used to designate the fundamental taxonomic category that ranks after genus, consisting of organisms capable of interbreeding, a less common meaning is more suggestive in this context. In the Roman Catholic Church, species designates the outward appearance or form of the eucharistic elements that is retained after their consecration. Specie, in contrast to species, is coined money. As I have already noted, in the medieval Catholic liturgy, one of the forms of the eucharistic wafer was a coin bearing a sacred insignia and inscription. The words of the priest perfect a process of transubstantiation through which the fiat currency of the wafer becomes the body of Christ, who is the absolute mediator between God and man. Within this economy of salvation, the divine mediator incarnate in the eucharistic coin is the currency of exchange, which makes redemption possible for human beings. When Christ dies and ascends to heaven, the divine does not disappear but remains to haunt the community of believers as a ghost or specter now deemed holy."

Mark C Taylor Confidence Games (2004) p.323

Money Wisdom #408

"Religious visions that remain stuck in the oppositions and contradictions of the past pose a threat to the future. Simplistic beliefs are dangerous in an ever more complex world and therefore must be confronted directly and criticized vigorously. But the criticism alone is not enough. It is also necessary to develop alternative types of religion that might lead to new social, political, economic and cultural realities."

Mark C Taylor Confidence Games (2004) p.313

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Money Wisdom #407

"...time is not an infinite series of isolated moments in which the past, present and future are separate and events are disconnected. Rather, the moments of time are interrelated in such a way that the past accumulates to establish a trajectory into the future and the future impinges upon the present in a way that requires a constant recasting and refiguring of the past."

Mark C Taylor Confidence Games (2004) p.278

Money Wisdom #406

"While many of the mistakes economists and investment strategists made in the 1980's and 1990's now seem obvious, what has not yet been recognized is that their theories and models also rested upon several fundamental philosophical errors. The theories of leading financial economists in the last half of the twentieth century have an inadequate understanding of human selfhood or subjectivity and misconstrue the nature of time and historical development. These two errors are actually different versions of the same mistake. Contrary to the presuppositions of leading financial economists, reality is not an aggregate of separate entities, individuals, or monads that are externally and contingently related; it is an emerging web consisting of multiple networks in which everything and everyone come into being and develop through ongoing interrelations. Within these webs, subjects and objects are not separate from each other but coevolve. As this process unfolds, there is not subject without an object and vice versa. In the world of finance, for example, there can be no investor (subject) without something in which to invest (i.e. commodity, security, bond, derivative, etc), and, obviously, there are no investments without investors."

Mark C Taylor Confidence Games (2004) p.277

Money Wisdom #405

"The belief that tomorrow's risks can be inferred from yesterday's prices and volatilities prevails at virtually every investment bank and trading desk."

Lowenstein When Genius Failed p.235 quoted in
Mark C Taylor Confidence Games (2004) p.263

Money Wisdom #404

"In 1997, LTCM had '$120 billion of borrowed bonds and $1.25 trillion of derivatives. According to partners Scholes and Merton,' Dunbar reports [in Inventing Money], 'the interlocking parts were now so perfectly engineered that these devices were virtually capable of perpetual motion. As the technology of risk management continued to improve, the tiny sliver of equity underneath the inverted pyramid would vanish completely. There would be no need for excess cash to lubricate the money machines, and no need for irritating shareholders... ...At LTCM's zenith, they had a vision of zero capital and infinite leverage'. This scheme seems to make Marx's notion of capital as an infinitely productive self-reflexive loop operating like a perpetual motion machine a reality. But just when the money machines seemed to be functioning smoothly and at maximum efficiency, everything suddenly changed. Against all odds, the sequence of events that was never supposed to occur began in to unfold in the late summer of 1997 and quickly spread throughout the global economy."

Mark C Taylor Confidence Games (2004) p.259

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Money Wisdom #403

"For both Luther and Calvin, sin and redemption are diametrically related - redemption can only occur in and through sin. Within the overall economy of salvation, therefore, sin and the fall, though painful, are always fortunate."

Mark C Taylor Confidence Games (2004) p.88

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Money Wisdom #402

" The reasons for the condemnation of usury are multiple and complex. The theological justification for the sanction is that the usurer sells time, which properly belongs to God. Like Hermes, the usurer is a thief who steals not only from his fellow man but, more importantly, from God. This theological explanation, however, is inadequate for it is obviously overdetermined in many ways. The deeper reason for the fear of usury is its association with illegitimate excess and unlawful surplus. Far from avoiding money's perversity, the usurer freely traffics in supplements whose danger is not merely economic but is, more insidiously, sexual. The censure of usury rests on a dread of perverse sexuality. This is already evident in Aristotle's claim that usury is 'unnatural' because money gives birth to money. The generation of money by money seems to be a process of autoinsemination that breeds illegitimate offspring. By the Middle Ages, the association of usury with sexual perversity led to its condemnation as a form of bestiality. "

Mark C Taylor Confidence Games (2004) p.73-74

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Money Wisdom #401

"Whatever its form, money's intermediate status is what lends it an ambiguity that provokes ambivalence. In his creative application of game theory and complexity studies to money and finance, Shubik [in The Theory of Money and Financial Institutions p.282] observes that other than money, 'financial instruments are always created in pairs that net to zero.' This insight has implications that extend far beyond economic relations as they are traditionally understood. Since financial instruments and the relations they establish are always created in pairs, they form a structure characterized by binary opposition. As the exception to this rule, money falls between these opposites and thus can serve as the medium of exchange. Money, therefore, is liminal; always betwixt 'n' between, it is the condition of the possibility of a structure that cannot incorporate it. To be an effective medium of exchange determining different values, money must retain a neutrality that, in Shimmel's [sic] terms, 'is completely adaptable to any use'. As a result of this neutrality, money can take many forms; it is, in other words, polymorphous, polyvalent, and, some would insist, perverse."

Mark C Taylor Confidence Games 2004 p.60

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Money Wisdom #400

"Money is mysterious and is getting more so. The mystery of money is at least in part the result of the oppositions it embodies: valuable/worthless, material/immaterial, rational/irrational, useful/useless... These contradictions create an irreducible ambiguity which renders money simultaneously attractive and repulsive. As a result of the ambivalence money provokes, it has repeatedly been associated with both God and the Devil."

Mark C Taylor Confidence Games 2004 p.57

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Money Wisdom #399

"On the one hand, if [as Frank Stella says] the work of art is a nonreferential object in which 'what you see is what you see,' then it would seem that the representation and what it represents implode and become identical. On the other hand, Stella [also] claims, 'I do think that a good pictorial idea is worth more than a lot of manual dexterity.' From the later point of view, the painting appears to re-present the idea in a way that presupposes oppositions between concept/work, creation/production, conception/execution, and form/matter. Throughout the history of Western metaphysics, such binary oppositions are always hierarchical. Stella, like his philosophical and theological precursors, privileges the first term in each dyad over the second: the concept is essential, its appearance accidental." 

Mark C Taylor Confidence Games 2004 p.41

Monday, April 4, 2016

Money Wisdom #398

"The efficient market hypothesis was less the product of much-touted reason than the expression of an understandable yet irrational desire for order in a world that seemed chaotic."

Mark C Taylor Confidence Games 2004 p.12

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Money Wisdom #397

" ...the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn..."

Jack Kerouac On The Road (1957) p.11

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Jean-Joseph Goux Versus Mark C. Taylor

I've just read Numismatics an essay which forms the first chapter of Jean-Joseph Goux's Symbolic Economies. It started out life as essay written amidst the turmoil and revolution of Paris in May 1968 which was to be presented as a public lecture for the famous French literary quarterly review Tel Quel. Rather joyfully for me the date of the lecture was 23rd October 1968 (there was another one the following week on the 30th). I'm not going to offer a review of the essay or book here, now. I definitely recommend reading the essay, though (not finished the book, yet). Despite the fact that I found it hard going, I felt an affinity with Goux - it's not that I agree with his conclusions 100%, but his thinking certainly resonates with my own. I remember feeling a kinship with Goux's vision when I read the other of his essays I have on my shelf - Pleasure and Pain: At the Crossroads of Psychoanalysis and the Political Economy from Loaded Subjects (the collection of essays based on contributions to the 2010 conference on Psychoanalysis, Money and the Economy hosted by the Freud Museum at Birkbeck College)

Anyway, I just wanted to briefly offer you three things here. I think they might help give an insight into these psychoanalytical modes of thinking about money (and everything else). It's just two tables and one note.

This is from Numismatics - typically no title or direct reference is offered in the text. In the later essays in Symbolic Economies, Goux does start to bring in something akin to mathematical symbols to give some explicit 'structuration' to his psychoanalytical cosmology. But I think this table is an early attempt to a mapping of his metaphysics or psycho-verse. (The title I gave it when I tweeted it out was 'Goux's Registers of Production & Circulation'



I'm not sure why, but after spending some time trying to make sense out of Goux's map, I picked up one of my 'unread, must-read books'  - Mark C Taylor's Confidence Games. Taylor is someone I've come across through pursuing theological ideas around money. I noticed that whenever I read any theological analysis of money, Taylor's name was in the mix so I picked up his Confidence Games and About Religion. I've dipped in, and they do look excellent. Anyway, it turns out that Taylor has a similar map or 'table of registers'. 


And looking in the notes to Confidence Games (p.357-8) I found the following in which Taylor directly contrasts his own work with Goux's. 
"12. In his influential work, Symbolic Economies: After Marx and Freud, Jean-Joseph Goux uses the principles of Lacanian psychoanalysis to frame an interpretation of exchange. He identifies four forms of value: elementary or accidental form, total or extended form, general form, and money form. While these categories bear a certain resemblance to the three types of theology of culture I have described (see the table Monistic, Dualistic, Complex - Jon), the preoccupation with bringing together Marx and Freud, which Goux shares with so many postwar European intellectuals (not to mention the American [!] Norman O Brown - Jon), limits the value of his analysis. There is a significant difference between the trajectory Goux plots and the one I am suggesting. For Goux, there is a movement from duality (reciprocal exchange) through multiplicity (generalized exchange) to unity (general equivalent). In contrast to this, I am proposing a scheme that moves from unity through duality to differential complexity. Goux's misleading argument on this point is at least in part the result of his lack of appreciation for the subtleties of Western religious and theological traditions. Finally, while he suggests the importance of what he describes as 'a nonphallocentric, noncentralized conception, as yet unconceived, of a network, a polynodial, nonrepresentative organization' in the context of his discussion of Bataille's effort to move 'beyond the formation of monocephalous societies,' he does not develop the implications of this potential insight.' "
Taylor's note has me in two minds.

He echoes my own thought about, not just Goux, but so much that is implicit in writing on money; the Value question. I've referred to my conception of value as 'Value Monism' and contrasted this with a Nietzschean idea of values - the idea that value is a creation of the 'price-making' mind of man and that there are many values. Taylor seems here - as does much theological work for obvious reasons - to be in accord with a notion of 'value monism'.

However, I think Taylor over emphasizes the weight Goux gives in his work to the relation between value and exchange. Goux's focus is on production and circulation and on commodity and money. Goux says that philosophical oppositions are summed up in the opposition between money and commodities. He quotes Marx explicitly as saying that 'the value of a commodity is the measure of the attraction it exerts upon all the other elements of material wealth'. I noticed Goux's lack of emphasis on exchange - or perhaps his sublimation of exchange to mean 'all interaction' -  because I was thinking about Simmel whilst reading him, wondering if he was going to be bought into Goux's argument. Two points here. First, no criticism of Goux for not mentioning Simmel - he was only 25 !! when he wrote the first draft of Numismatics. Second, as Simmel himself tries to elucidate, the relation between value and exchange is a not straightforward causal 'exchange creates value' one (see this quote from Simmel) and I don't think Goux really presented it in the way Taylor summarized it. Taylor seems to be imposing a crude Marxian idea of commodity money on Goux (who himself shows us that actually Marx's ideas weren't limited to the crude 'money came from commodity' notion that is most often attributed to him).

But the contrast with Taylor and Goux is very interesting and might be illuminating (hence I thought I best post about it). What I'm very interested in at the moment (and what in part I'm writing about) is how there is an evolutionary structuration (that word is Goux's influence upon me) in writing on money and value (and much else besides). This structuration is rarely made explicit. Both the tables that Goux & Taylor offer seem to be attempts to either uncover or give form to some deep structure that is presently invisible to us. But both seem to rely on a notion that processes unfold within time. This is what I'm interested in and what I'm trying to 'pick apart' in my work.

(In the next essay in Symbolic Economies Goux seems to be heading in a similar direction too - the next yet-to-read chapter is called History and the Unconscious. Noam Yuran also has an interesting take on these historiograhic issues in What Money Wants. Norman O Brown of course has lots to say about this. Lacan marks up REPETITION as a fundamental of psychonalysis and I think maybe conceptualizing in these sorts of terms - within the Nietzschean notion of the eternal return of the eversame - maybe the best bet to escape a temporal structuration of the psychical domain of money.)


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Money Wisdom #396

"When Freud writes that 'the two courses of development - both of the ego and of the libido' - are 'at bottom legacies, abbreviated recapitulations of the development which all mankind has passed through from its primaeval days over long periods of time,' (Freud, ILOP 16:354) he accentuates the parallel, which he continually affirmed, between ontogenetic development and phylogenetic development. The broad applicability of the logic of exchange, with its successive forms, seems to confirm the parallel indicated by Freud and Engels. The type of historical structuration illustrated in the genesis of the money form is not simply one type among many; it is the trajectory of historical structuration itself - in other words, history itself. There is an historical peak (I do not say an end point) in the accession to a recognized ratified hegemony of major symbols, the firmly established reign of general equivalents. Now it clearly appears that this reign has taken place. The summit of a certain history has come to pass. It ends in the mode of production based on monetary exchange, and what we are experiencing today is the aftershock of this culmination. This aftershock does not propel us down the other slope; it shakes the very foundations of this history, the very problematics of summit and base, including the very concept of general equivalent."

John-Joesph Goux Symbolic Economies (1990) p.41


Note: It's worth bearing in mind - especially when Goux talks about 'aftershock' - that the first version of this essay was written in Paris in May and June 1968.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Money Wisdom #395

Just as 'the value of a commodity is the measure of the attraction it exerts upon all the other elements of material wealth' and, given the position gold occupies and the corresponding valorization it enjoys, just as commodities 'aspire to gold as their hereafter,' likewise the whole world, heaven and earth, is suspended and attracted as if magnetically by an external, indestructible desire toward absolute divine perfection, which, itself immobile, sets in motion each individual being. 'All commodities are perishable money; money is the imperishable commodity' (Marx, Capital 114; Marx, Contribution 115; Marx, Grundrisse 149)

Thus the oppositions between divine and terrestrial, universal and particular, sacred and profane, the one and the many, transcendence and immanence are summed up (formally and operationally, if we reconstruct the coherent system of these metaphors) in the opposition between money and commodities. This isomorphism affords a glimpse of the all-important impact of the monetary system upon the ideological formations, or rather, of what real or ideological oppositions are constituted or affirmed in the historical period to which the monetary economy belongs.

Jean-Joseph Goux Symbolic Economies (1990) p.36


Note: I almost agree with Goux, here. First, I'd replace the word/concept 'commodity' with 'currency'. And second I'd cut off the end of the final line; it requires a narrower metaphysical conceptualization of money (as product of psychical energies and process) than I have. Thirdly, although I can read the whole thing with my own conceptualiztion of 'VALUE' intact, I think Goux himself tends towards a more Nietzschean conception of 'us as the valuers' or, 'creators of value' rather than VALUE existing as the ultimate metaphysical category. But yeah, I'm reading him very slowly but am liking Goux a lot. Very similar territory.



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Money Wisdom #394

" What equivalence affirms, Marx shows, is an identical essence. The expression of value, transforming diverse products of labor into identical sublimates, is a language of alchemy, of essence and quintessence, of distillation and sublimation. This difference between use-value and exchange-value, then, exposes all the oppositions between body and soul, as Marx's frequent metaphors in this register demonstrate. Use-value is the physical, incarnated, perceptible aspect of the commodity, while the exchange-value is a supernatural abstraction, invisible and supersensible. No biologist's scalpel has ever found a person's soul or anima, just as 'hitherto, no chemist has been able to discover exchange-value in a pearl or diamond' (Marx, Capital 58) "


Jean-Joseph Goux Symbolic Economies (1990) p.19