Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Money and the hidden self

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The American psychosis has not yet come to anything like a provisional end…Through all the testimony, one fact anyway stands out with distinctness. This is the growing importance of money as a dissolvent of manners and customs, money as a power that converts every rival symbolism to a language of its own. In every period of our history, but never more so than today, money has been the leveler by which self-engrossment is made to adapt to a surface ideal of gregarious practicality. Money has taken increasingly to itself the obscure and compelling charge that Emerson assigned to the hidden self. It has the right kind of abstraction, and the right kind of opacity. It is at once an embodiment and a creator of value: the further from any produced object, the better. It is the thing, more convenient than a person, that absolves you to yourself. By comparison with money, the soul has lapsed to the inferior reality of an entity that cannot be modified or exchanged.

David Bromwich, Moral Imagination

Written by nevalalee

June 11, 2017 at 7:30 am

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