[-empyre-] Geflecht

davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Sat Apr 11 01:24:34 EST 2009

This is what I find so fascinating about currency.  Its value is based
on whether or not the person who holds it is going to be able to get
out what they put into acquiring it.  At the end of the day, you are
really just talking about matter and energy that's put into it and
matter and energy that's extracted from it.  But how we relate to it
is based entirely on the reliability that we perceive in this

The greater the distortion between the signifier and the signified,
the more opportunities there are for people to make money on the
difference between the sign (cash) and what it signifies (energy and
matter)....  introducing a third quantity into the valuation of
currency (information, if you know about the difference in a way that
reliably extracts money from the difference, you can treat this as
another form of capital).

It seems then, like a good economy is a paradox.  On the one hand, we
want money to retain its value.  But on the other hand, the entire
economy is based on the fact that it can have no inherent value.  It's
like robbing someone with a toy pistol.  You don't have the means to
hurt anybody, but you you want people to behave as though it matters.
Our monetary system seems based on the same thing.   It must be
apparently solid enough that the majority will work their lives away
for money and spend their money, but it has to be liquid enough that
people can skim a bit out of every transaction without showing any
tangible damage.  The best economy, in this system, must both preserve
a maximum level of inefficiency while preserving a maximum appearance
of efficiency.

A gross example of this would be the United States Defense budget,
under which all money is spent under the pretext of absolute necessity
and ultimate value....  but which in actuality....  is the pure waste
of matter and energy.  Hence the absolute love of bombs, the product
which, when successful, destroys itself and everything around it, and
which necessitates government contracts to improve upon its past
successes AND contracts to rebuild its targets.


On Thu, Apr 9, 2009 at 9:41 PM, jeff pierce <zentrader at live.ca> wrote:
> Michael,
> Per wikipedia
> Fiat money is money declared by a government to be legal tender.[1] Fiat
> currency achieves value because a government accepts it in payment of taxes
> and says it can be used within the country as a "tender" (offering) to pay
> all debts. In effect, this allows it to be used to buy goods and services.
> The most widely-held reserve currency, the US dollar, is a fiat currency.
> Federal Reserve Notes receive no backing by anything. In another sense
> however, they are "backed" by all the goods and services in the United
> States economy because they are declared legal tender by the Federal
> government.
> The one thing that all fiat currencies have in common is they all fail in
> the end, as they really aren't worth anything and inflation takes over, in
> the most severe cases hyperinflation. The US dollar used to be backed by
> gold but FDR so unwisely took us off that back in 1933. In fact, he also
> made it illegal for private citizens to even hold gold as required everyone
> to turn in their gold for a predetermined amount set by government. Some
> fear that the US government are going to try that trick again and that's why
> so many investors hold their gold offshore. I couldn't believe it the first
> time I heard that.
> One other note to pay attention to in the definition above is it says the
> currency is backed by "all the goods and services in the United States
> economy", and the big problem is that we don't really export much these
> days. Most manufacturing has went abroad and we are now mostly a service
> based economy. Seems like everything is made in China, India, or Mexico so
> it makes you wonder, what really is backing our currency?
> The only thing that makes it worth anything is because the government says
> so and everybody goes along with that. We are currently the world's largest
> debtor nation with China holding a massive amount of US dollars. Things
> could really get bad for the value of our dollar when they start dumping
> their dollars. China has already voiced concerns about a new reserve
> currency because their scared about US defaulting on it's debt.
> We're about to hit critical mass soon regarding the amount of debt this
> country has taken on. Just think about the interest that the government owes
> to the Federal Reserve, it's staggaring to comprehend. If Obama continues
> down this path of insane fiscal policies, you're going to see taxes on the
> public double soon.
> Jeff
> ________________________________
> From: mtata at ipublishingllc.com
> To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> Date: Wed, 8 Apr 2009 15:38:36 -0700
> Subject: [-empyre-] Geflecht
> Hi, all!  Here are some responses to people who have made me think deeper
> about the current strands of our intricate braid: everything from issues of
> gifting vis-à-vis responsibility and reciprocity to concrete concerns for
> community- and world-building in the wake of gross individuality.
> Specifically:
> Thanks, Davin for the generous Appadurai quote.  These ideas clearly belong
> in our discussion, especially concepts like “globalization from below” and,
> my favorite, “the global everyday.”  This latter idea is a pragmatic
> masterstroke, as it begs the question of what it means to inhabit this
> abstract system of relations we term “globalization.”  As you point out, the
> problem of global capital is its irresponsibility and the alienation it
> inspires: I mean, it’s not like we can fly to the slums of Naples to see
> which fingers Donatella Versace has put to work embroidering and bedazzling
> our designer t-shirts.  Appadurai is a lovely corrective, inspiring a
> poetics of the everyday for the citizen of the world.  In fact, I would
> encourage all of us to do what you have done all along and reflect openly
> and vividly on our current habitation of this late capitalist geodesic.  As
> for recent pop culture, I think M.I.A. does an excllent job of probing the
> question of a global everyday on her Kala album.
> Cinzia, your invocation of the Derridean concept of a Contretemps is
> intriguing, and I would love to hear more.  At the outset, it causes my
> consciousness to turn to Derrida’s idea about dissemination as the giving of
> that which can never come back to me: a squandering of the nom-de-père, a
> letting loose of the phallic function even more radical than occurs with
> respect to Judge Schreber’s psychosis.  How do you connect contretemps with
> potlatch, all those Trobriand Islanders smashing plates and burning whale
> oil candles in a spectacle of unreciprocatable generosity?  Also, since
> Derrida claims that, eccentrically, the gift sets the economic circle in
> motion (while it somehow also effractively breaks it apart), I wonder how
> you connect this account of an economic engine with contretemps,
> dissemination, waste and excess: the obscene underside of the gift, the
> squalor and effulgence we seek to manage and mask through economics and
> ethics.  PS—Love your vid!  Are you trapped inside the gift?  Perhaps you
> are the gift.
> Hi, Jeff!  Can you please define Fiat Currency for me?  I do not know
> precisely what this term means, but my curiosity is piqued.  I also agree
> with your remarks about America’s hybrid capitalism, since you are right:
> things like Unemployment Insurance, Social Security or a
> government-sponsored corporate bailout plans are proof that our capital and
> the “ism” we attach to it so religiously are not pure.  But is any economy
> pure?  Does Castro come the closest to a pure economics with his vision of
> Communism?  Perhaps purity is overrated.
> Back to Davin: for Derrida, it is unforgivable not to know how to give.  In
> essence, there is an impulse to reveal, de-conceal, share which seems to
> hearken back to a primordial generosity which gives us Being and Time
> themselves as primary phenomena.  We must know how to give, how to receive,
> and how to forget.  On a side note, Bridezillas are a wonderful example of
> giving having become taking: the TV show Bridezillas is a feminist nightmare
> come to life.  I would urge you to see it if you have not already; I think
> it’s on the Oxygen network.  In fact, the theme song to the show might
> become part of the soundtrack Joseph suggested for our forum.  Why does the
> Bridezilla phenomenon surprise you, though?  Isn’t it the logic of the
> commodity viral, aiming to commodify everything this mystifying function
> touches?  My question would be: under globalization, what has escaped
> commodification?  What has retained its genuineness and innocence in our
> de-sublimated society of the spectacle?
> Howdy, Nick!  Love the article.  It’s so wonderful and relevant that it
> features a gambling image; for theorists of the gift, gambling serves as
> representation of the excessiveness of the gift, its tendency to give beyond
> all decency or morality (much in the way that jouissance gives too much
> pleasure).  “Gambling” also appears to be an important trope within our
> discussion of recent Wall Street antics.  As for testosterone or
> testosterone receptivity, the jury is apparently out, but all I can think of
> are those studies of the gay hypothalamus and the uterine environment.
> As for bringing things back to the notion of  “Crescere” you introduced at
> the start of all our fun, I would bring it back ‘round to its twin, “Armus,”
> or artifice, since it seems that what gets created in so many of our
> instances and examples is something artificial: a general equivalent
> dictating value, a system of relations governing what can be given, what
> must be given, and what can be taken, a social network feeling the impetus
> to invest its resources in interest-driven vehicles and its intelligence and
> creativity in an écriture whose narratives and poems store meaning as
> capital.  I create with my arm, I create my artifice as arm or prosthesis, I
> arm myself with creativity.
> *******************************************
> Michael Angelo Tata, PhD  347.776.1931-USA
> http://www.MichaelAngeloTata.com/
>> Date: Wed, 1 Apr 2009 08:51:42 -0700
>> From: editor at intertheory.org
>> To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> Subject: [-empyre-] April 2009 on –empyre-
>> April 2009 on –empyre-
>> “Creativity and Postmodern Finance, or the Artifice of the 21st Century
>> Global Financial Implosion”
>> Plan on escaping the travails of finance and capital? Sure you do. We are
>> all creative in our orientation toward the artifice of capital. The decision
>> to survive requires employment of the arts of finance and capitalization,
>> regardless of one's subjectivity or preoccupation.
>> 'Creativity,' from the Latin, 'crescere,' means 'I come to be,' 'I
>> increase,' 'I grow and expand,' etc. To be sure, some are endowed in one way
>> or another with more or less of something, creativity notwithstanding. And
>> for certain, some are more creative than others. Out of all this, what
>> ‘comes to be’ as humanity employs the arts of capital in the 21st century?
>> What does our creation obtain?
>> As of late, the human world is preoccupied with artisans of capital and
>> finance, and with good reason. Humanity is fearful that its future, we might
>> say, is being foreclosed upon by the uncontrollable forces of their trade.
>> Many cultural theorists feel that capital is an artifice. Capital is but our
>> creation, they say. So perhaps we need only recreate capital, and its terms,
>> to adjust for its errors, to render an ever better society. Others say
>> capital is the problem in itself. What have we caused to be, to be
>> increased, or expanded upon, that has led us to this spirited place?
>> How does our art, our artifice, from the Latin ‘armus’…art being that
>> which comes from our arm or shoulder…contribute to the problems or solutions
>> of the global meltdown? Who are the artisans? And who is the audience that
>> goads them onward?
>> Our guests:
>> Michael Angelo Tata is the author of Andy Warhol: Sublime Superficiality
>> (forthcoming in 2009).
>> Laurence Rickels is professor of German and comparative literature at the
>> University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include The Devil
>> Notebooks (2008), Nazi Psychoanalysis (2002) and The Vampire Lectures
>> (1999).
>> Joseph Tabbi is professor of contemporary literature and technology at the
>> University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of Cognitive Fictions
>> (2002) and Postmodern Sublime: Technology and American Writing from Mailer
>> to Cyberpunk (1995). He also edits the Electronic Book Review.
>> Jeff Pierce is an independent equity trader based in Canada. He is also
>> the editor of Zentrader.ca
>> Davin Heckman is Assistant Professor of English at Siena Heights
>> University in Adrian, Michigan. He is the author of A Small World: Smart
>> Houses and the Dream of the Perfect Day (2008).
>> Nicholas Ruiz III is a moderator of –empyre-. He is the author of America
>> in Absentia (2008) and The Metaphysics of Capital (2006). He is also the
>> editor of Kritikos.
>> Nicholas Ruiz III, Ph.D Editor, Kritikos http://intertheory.org
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
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