Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On the Experience of Food and Money

Culture is the effort to make instinct into something conscious, to marry thought with bodily impulse, to bring hunger and sexuality under the control of crystal clear awareness.

Sexual survival in capitalism parallels physical survival in the wild. The development of fine-dining [18th century France, although nearly developed 17 centuries earlier in Rome, too] completed culture's task regarding hunger.

The soul’s motivation for creating capital is to simulate the natural situation. Eventually our pre-civilized human ancestors learned that cooperation led to better success than adversarial competition. Eventually we will learn, too.

Capitalism is starting civilization over again from scratch, but on the abstract plane, one level up from where we were.

The task is to redefine everything. Redefine cities. What were cities originally for? They were for the systematic, planned cultivation of crops--organized survival in a world that was running out of food to gather. In the same way, capitalism creates the situation that people are always running out of money. The pre-civilized person starves, the modern goes broke.

What’s the equivalent of a city for us? What’s the organized solution to going broke? How did cities alleviate the problem of starvation? They enabled people to systematically grow and prepare food.

But when did cities fulfill their full promise? Was it not with fine dining? With fine dining, eating became defined as a social experience more so than the satisfaction of instinctual hunger. At this point, the hunger instinct was finally fully subdued by human consciousness. A truly refined palette is not so much about being able to tell which wine is the more expensive, but rather being fully aware of how to best experience food as a social occasion, as well as the satisfaction of an instinctual need.

What is the equivalent of fine dining regarding money? How do we refine the experience of money in the same way that culture has refined and perfected the experience of food?

What is money? Money is an agreement. A simulation. A simulation that we should take seriously because the soul demands it [Giegerich]. But what’s a more refined way to experience agreement?  Would it not be through the infusion of personality into money, into economic exchange? This would possibly culminate with the elimination of money, but not for a long time to come. Our species, our global community--whatever you want to call the market-defined exchanges that interconnect us all--will have to earn the victory of cultural refinement through much effort. First we will have to establish local currencies that encourage more interactions on the local level, with neighbors and community members. Time-banking, local currencies, and ultimately a democratically-run (not centralized) socialist economy are the refinements of the experience of money in the same way that fine dining is the refinement of the experience of food.

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