(editor’s note: b. e. hydomako has published dozens of articles in the Voice over the years, and we are pleased to have him back after a long hiatus. Look for more articles by b. e. in future issues and see the Voice archives for past submissions by this, and many other authors who have graced the Voice pages since our inception in 1992…)
“The world today seems absolutely crackers. With nuclear bombs to blow us all sky high; there are fools and idiots sitting on the trigger. It’s depressing, and it’s senseless, and that’s why…” (1) it is time to get honest about what has been called “the root of all evil” (2).
Money. I’m talking here about money.
Now Pink Floyd sang, “money, it’s a crime” (3). While I don’t believe that money is a crime, it seems fairly obvious that many people commit crimes because of it. Indeed, from a child robbing the shoes from an Other child in a playground, to Martha Stewart’s insider trading, and from a possible aspect to the motivations of wars in recent years, to the guy in a mask willing to kill a clerk at a convenience store, it is clear that so many of the acts we consider crimes revolve around money.
So, One might wonder what it is I mean by “getting honest” about this intangible stuff that gets represented by bytes at the bank, by gold in the treasuries, by printed paper in our pockets. Well, a direct interpretation of “getting honest” about money might be a plea to those who would commit crimes so that they can get more of it. But that’s an easy interpretation given the above paragraph, and what is more, mostly an empty One. I do not expect that many who have or who are willing to commit crimes to gain money to suddenly become honest citizens who treat Others with respect.
No, that would be simple minded: any One, upon some reflection, can realize that there’s too many crooked games that are lawful within our Western world that make for poor examples to the rest of us. I’m not blaming society here, at least, not only society. I mean, when it comes down to it–at least according to existentialist thinking–every One has a choice when it comes to deciding how he or she acts, and no One is entirely constrained by external factors.
I want to get honest, for a moment, about how we talk about money.
“Money makes the world go ’round.”
Most of us have heard that one, haven’t we? In the repetition of this phrase throughout our lives, does it not make sense how we have come to believe this is true? Of course, it’s demonstrably false. Money does not make the world–our earth–go around. Gravity (whatever the heck that turns out to be) in conjunction with momentum and inertia, well, these are the forces that make our earth turn on its axis and revolve around the sun. We could easily verify with a simple experiment: if we destroyed all the currency in the world, and erased all the bits in banks–if we removed all traces of money in the world, well shoot, I’d bet you none of the money (’cause we destroyed it all) in the world that the world would keep right on turning.
How about double or nothin’?
“Time is money.”
We believe this–we hold this to be true somehow, because whenever we hear some One say it, they tend to do so in the most serious manner, and what is more, we often agree. Patently false–as above, and in the context of the same thought experiment, demonstrably so–but we believe it regardless. Why?
Well, again without getting too far into sociological mechanics, most of us have grown up in a world where we have earned an hourly wage at some job or an Other. We have been paid for our work based on the measuring device known as a clock. As a second ticks off, most of us have earned some fraction of a penny–at minimum wage in Alberta (recently upped to $7.00 an hour) an employee earns 0.119444… cents per second–and this is how we have, in part, come to accept the above cliché as somehow true.
But more than this, I feel, we believe time is money because time is something no One has ever understood very well, if at all. The great St. Augustine of Hippo is known to have remarked something along the lines of “I know what time is, but when I try to describe it, I cannot…” and when something is unknown and perhaps ultimately unknowable to a human being, well, it becomes much easier for a human being to have false beliefs about what this same thing is. Sure, relativity has tried to describe time in terms of a “fourth dimension,” but any One who is familiar with the Twilight Zone certainly understands that the fourth dimension isn’t One “…of sight and of sound, but of mind.” In Other words, unlike the physical three dimensions of our sense perceptions, time is somehow perpendicular to three intersecting right angle axes.
Yeah, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either! And in the second part of this two part article, I promise you there will be less science and more language.
1. Monty Python, “I Like Chinese,”
2. I recently read, in a soon to be published manuscript by Howard Campbell, that this phrase was likely made up by some religious leader with the motivation to give his parishioner’s more reason to give their money to the churches coffers. I don’t know if this is true, but it does sound plausible.
3. Pink Floyd, “Money,” from the album Darkside of the Moon, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Side_of_the_Moon