By Christopher Fulkerson

CF's Composition Desk


It is not true that money is completely negotiable. Individual pieces of money retain certain characteristics, which affect their bearers. The ancient Romans had an expression, "Sator arepo tenet opera rotas." The sower sows the field, the field makes the sower. You are what you do. Your money is a piece of life, of the life of those who had it before you (in whatever form they had it), of your life, and the life of those who have it after you.

If you are very perceptive, you can, at least some of the time, distinguish the major characteristics of the method by which your money was made before it came your way; this effort is made easier if you know enough about the means by which it was made, and/or the person who made it. And this capacity might not be linked as you might expect, if you even believe this premise, with the money's stated value; currently, American pennies are communicating minor skin ailments because they are worth more than their stated value, and if they are left lying around they are like radioactive generators of greater "currency" than their surroundings. We need to either get the pennies out of the system, or increase the intrinsic value of the rest of our money. If you think I am talking about diseases on the money, read this again. I am saying something much, much stranger. I am saying that physical money the intrinsic value of which exceeds its stated value is somehow "radioactive." And because the whole purpose of money is to change that place in the infinity of possibilities that the universe you are traveling into may go, it affects you BEFORE it comes into your hands. It is in fact true that profit is prophecy. If money's capacity for physical change were represented on a graph, the power lines would not only extend from the person making the money, but also from the money to the person gleaning it. By the time you possess your money, it has already affected you, it has already acted to guide your world to another place than you would have been in without it.

Hard and paper currencies have different ways of maintaining their affective profiles. Hard currency probably does so by being unmalleable in shape, and by being a cypher in shape. It is like little statues of affectiveness. But paper currency has code numbers and other engravings on it that insure its individuality, even when it is coerced physically. Each type of currency represents a different type of quantum particle of law. A piece of money is a quantifiable moment in each of the human lives through which it passes.

Money not only "talks:" it has memory, it protects its world and its position in that world, and it projects its preferred future. And, together, money and its bearer are in a cyborg-type relationship. That is how money affects change, by bonding with its bearer, and that is the reason that money-obsessed people think that the possession of money gives greater creedence to its bearers, the more they have of it. It is an illusion of credibility, since to have more money only means one fits more wholly into the world one has created with it. The more money one has, the more difficult it can be to think outside the cash box. Given the current state of things, money evidently means more than the air we breathe. This is not a good thing. Money has its significance because of the agreed-upon value it accrues. American money, and any other money not backed by a precious metal or object of some kind, has no objective value, it has only the value that the faith of its believers impute to it.

The strange and secretive images on many forms of money are probably there to keep the things money says and does from being understood as merely money talking and acting. One way for one economy to cause the defeat of another is simply through having greater affective content in the imagery on the money. A sublime method of doing this is to create artifacts that overtake the value of the money. The way in which this could be done is limited only to the imaginations and strategies of its creators. But in general, it is most in your interest to have your money reflect as much personally about you as you can get it to do. This is the real reason, and it is a good reason, that it is illegal to deface American money, in any case a tricky thing to attempt, if it is true that a piece of money is a unit of your own life. (But if the money is someone else's, this could be very different.) And this is the real reason that the physical money itself remains the property of the State. It CREATES major aspects of the state.

The upshot of all this is that there are two ways of affecting the "currency" of the world, one through commerce, measured in money; and one through visionary clarity, measured in a variety of ways: for example, through visionary artworks which make no attempt to capture any present market, but which occupy a commanding position in the world all the same. Later, such artworks might be measured in dollars, but there are ancient cave paintings still with no particular value per se that defy the currency of all we are led to believe. It is important to remember that commercial value catches up with such artworks, which is to say, the artworks' prophetic power is in advance of the power of profit. This is another type of intrinsic value exceeding stated value.

Most money partakes of both of these systems of valuation, the first of commerce, through its quantifiable (if changeable) numerical value, and the second of cultural adeptness, through its design, and through other manners of its handling by initiates. The more you know about the secret symbols on money, the more you know about how to replace the money-based system of social change, and the more you know about the truth about the world in which we live. Not all nations' money is highly significant in this way, but there are enough examples of this latter sort to offer ample food for thoughtful minds.

Assignation of value through commerce can therefore be viewed as a defense mechanism against the affective power of a prophetic thing. Assignation of value is then an act of devaluation of the truth content of an economic system. The prophetic thing has conquered the economic thing, and forced its change. What part does money play? It makes the new situation less perceivable to the losers making the profit. Creating people who can think along these lines is one of the greatest assurances a society can have of its future. By now, Beethoven preserves the Austro-Hungarian Empire better than anything else. He keeps it "current." And Shostakovitch preserves the Communist Soviet Union the same way. Neither empire is dead, they are merely generalized into "currency" through the power of their prophet's prophetic clarity. How many American classical composers can the average American name? None. America is being constantly guided away from the creation of any real legacy that has lasting, intrinsic value. It does this while, and because, it is becoming more and more wealthy in commerce. Money is the medium of negotiating meaning right out of life.


Posted November 14, 2009. Updated 1/12/2010.