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enfant
2002-11-25 - 1:56 a.m.

It's late and I haven't done the work I should have done, and my back hurts from spending close to the whole day in this same goddamn chair. Tomorrow I need to get up early and get the train. I think I've had it with the joys of country living, already. Too many train rides. Too much worrying about where and when.

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This is what I'd be writing about if I was doing the work that I'd be doing: money is like language. It makes things transmutable into other things. Language is beautiful because the transformation it makes are imperfect, incomplete, they move towards a change and so they are the changing rather than the thing they become. Money is also a system of translation but it's ugly because it's too perfect. God did the right thing knocking down the tower of babel. Whatever can be bought is no longer itself; I think that's the real reason for the taboo against prostitution. This is what I would be writing... damn, why can't I just use this?

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"In the days of old

When we dug up the gold" - Bob Dylan or Alan Lomax or something

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Here's the new version of the thing I wrote above.
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Money is like language. It makes things transmutable into other things. Language is beautiful because the transformation it makes are imperfect, incomplete, they move towards a change and so they are the changing rather than the thing they become. Money is also a system of translation but it's ugly because it's too perfect. God did the right thing knocking down the tower of babel. Whatever can be bought is no longer itself; I think that's the real reason for the taboo against prostitution. “Oldest profession” also the most shameful because something that ought to be immutable is made part of the system of… this is what creative artists mean when they talk about “prostituting” themselves. Not merely a matter of making compromises, which is simply a part of life. Valuable and noble part of life, in fact. The artist who goes to work for an advertising agency or some such feels that something that belongs in an incommunicable world… not right. Because of course what the artist wants to do, precisely what they want to do is to communicate. Communication, common, comparable, communion, commutation… Commutation: the act of changing one thing for another; substitution, exchange. Money is a medium of exchange. It is only meaningful because of the things that it can be exchanged for, but because it can be exchanged for any of those things, then in potentia it is all those things. Money is a way of holding possibilities. Unresolved. What I meant at the beginning… I was thinking of theorists who say that the purpose of language has been to conceal violence. Language makes… words make one feeling into another. Poetry, argument, discussion… something happens here that allows one feeling to turn into another, but it doesn’t work the way money does. It’s complicated, uncertain, mysterious, magical. Spelling. You have to get it right or it doesn’t work. But, getting it right is done by letting go… money is mastered by holding on very, very tightly. One student wrote in an essay something very interesting… the Bible says, “be you therefore perfect”, but if we think of this in terms of Herrigal or Fingarette, then it seems, the command to be perfect is actually also a command to abandon perfectionism. Money is a language with the best and simplest vocabulary, numbers. Perfect simple logic. Computers don’t really think in numbers; much more complex than that. Computers are made of pathways, not numbers. But the language of money is always, how much? Too simple. I disagree with what I wrote yesterday, that money was a valid way for university to distinguish itself from a social club. “Wouldn’t join any club that would have me” is a joke but with an awful, genuine snobbery in it. The only club that’s worth joining is one that is too good for me, hence, that I have to fool, that I have to lie to get into. Terrible insecurity among academics. My terrible insecurity; am I good enough for this, is this good enough for me? Thinking in these terms no way to think yourself out of them. Transforming one thing into another is magic – philosopher’s stone. But it should be difficult and require different magic for each transformation. A magic that turns everything into everything else would be the end of the world… like adding all the colours in the paintbox to each other makes them into an indistinguishable brown…


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