From the desk of the Editor:
“Banksy at the Crux”
While I have been captivated by Banksy’s run in New York, I would not argue that his attack on the corporatist branding mindset is new. As I wrote, everyone from Naomi Klein who penned the semi-seminal, No Logo, to Macklemore and his Grandpa’s style have noted the omnipotence of branding in the status quo.
What’s more interesting is that numerous commentators have realized this omnipotence is a construct that we collectively enable. Banksy showed us that his output has one value with his name attached and another without it. All of our goods and things that are demarcated by brand have similarly valueless value distinctions. Bargain fashion shoppers, read: from Target to the Thrift Store, it is how you rock it, not where you got it.
This meme was not newly introduced by Banksy and Macklemore. Many recent movies have revolved around this theme. David Fincher’s “Fight Club” culminates with the annihilation of money and credit card records. Ed Norton and his alter-ego, Tyler Durden, have discovered that beating the snot out of one another in a mano-y-mano hyperbolic distortion of our forebears satisfies the same desires they would use money to fulfill anyway. Who needs money when you are already getting the kicks you would use money to buy you?
Ravers and Dead Head Spinners know the same truth.
The simplistic pulp flick “Die Hard IV”, revolved around the same conceit. The villain was planning to wipe out the financial system and all the scorekeeping with it. Money is just a signifier. Years ago, Jim Peacock had me reading David Harvey—money is a code, it has no is-ness, its being is transitory, it is only worth what you can exchange it for. Goldwalter and the Pauls aside, it doesn’t matter whether you can trade your money for gold or not when you can still trade it for gems, trips, Cristal, coke, and most other pleasures.
Money isn’t real. It is the figment that greases our imaginations, and thus, transactions. The crux of another fantastic popular movie, The Dark Knight, pivots on this same point. When Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s butler, relates the story of the unbribable Burmese bandit, who is tossing the gems they give him in the dirt because they have no value to him: the billionaire, Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, learns something about himself and all of us; our commonality with the Joker.
It is not about money. We are just keeping score. It is the game of life. The Joker, our dear Heath Ledger, burns the pile of the money to signify the same thing. The money has no meaning, it is just code for what it can get other people to give you.
If(1) scale didn’t matter, anything could(2) replace money and become the currency.(3) Money is only ubiquitous because of trade and the need for beyond the village commerce.
Coup could be money. What need did a Native American scale of commerce have for money? Why have a numerological quantifier to translate prestige when coup can be counted so clearly in action? Coup constructed social order.
Why did the French so easily understand the concept of counting coup? Because they were hardly far removed from a culture where pride trumped Francs. Nor is that so long gone on our American soil. W.J. Cash in his truly seminal, The Mind of South, details that psychology still deeply embedded in Southerners of the early 20th century.
Money has a stubborn, long history.
But behavior mattering more than money is not so far removed.
Could it again?
Knowing is often the first step. Globalization is rapidly making the rich/poor gap more evident.
(2) and frequently does
(3) The Botany of Desire notices this in the Dutch tulip economy.
“From the Editor’s Desk”
is written by our Editor: Aaron Mandel
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