Sunday, April 15, 2012

Things we do for money - beg, borrow and steal

When I was a child we used to catch the train every morning from Bali station to Howrah, you have to travel long ways at times to go to a good school in India. At the station there usually was a strange man sitting beside a very large pile of hay, gobbling it up. Hay is relatively cheap, but I am sure it is very hard to digest without 4 stomachs and a coterie of symbiotic bacteria. Yet day after day this man sat and ate hay, people were suitably amazed and gave him money to buy more hay. The same applies to performers of any kind, once our stomachs are full of suitably nutritious food (not hay), our minds seek fulfillment as well. We want to be amazed by something extraordinary, stay in touch with people we care about, gloat about the misfortunes of those we hate or envy. The brain feeds on these emotions and burns up the glucose we have consumed.

Fiat currencies have the great blessing of being pure invention, the state says let it be so and money exists - fiat lux. Since the Nixon Shock, currencies are disconnected from materials but attached to emotions and ideas. The society is a very large Markov network, with beliefs about value propagating through every conversation. True value or even truth itself is merely the best presented propaganda. The chinese are no stranger to the vagaries of economy having established the first known instance of paper money, and messed it up through hyperinflation and lack of sovereign discipline.

Content producers directly communicate with our minds through our senses and artists hold the strings to our happiness in their hands. We dance like grand marionettes to the messages being relayed through bands, movies, TV, radio, facebook, churches and Harry Potter novels. We spend money, a product of human ingenuity, on other products of human ingenuity. Last night I attended a small get together, Fee an artist and a friend is garnering support to travel around Australia generating content regarding digital culture. She is being shy about begging for money, but we had to point out to her that she is only begging for it from people who begged, borrowed or stole it in the first place. It is not even begging, it is only borrowing so that she can produce content which will engage people and keep them happy for years to come. We can have better stuff than "Hay" content.

If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.  - Yann Martel
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