DAY 140: Money

August 10th, 2015 § 0 comments

Or the readies, or liqudity, or le pognon, or flūs, the universal equivalent as Marx called it. I’ve been worrying about it lately, not in the usual sense of where has it all gone or where

dollarMaria Theresa thaler

can I get some more; but what it all means. Not being an economist, this doesn’t come naturally to me. I understand, in rough terms, what is going on when I exchange a fiver for some eggs Benedict oreggs a copy of New Left Review, since someone has laboured, someone is being exploited, some person or persons are profiting in a transparent way Where I got lost was when I tried to explain – to others, but I had to understand it myself first – how it was that GPS systems (them again) made Apple a huge profit by being used on everyone’s mobile phone. As we know that:

1) the systems came free, being supplied at no cost by the US Government;

2) they were supplied free with the phone.

What did Apple pay for my GPS, and what am I paying them; and if both amounts are zero, how are they making such a vast amount?

So far my research has come up with the following suggestions, but I’d be grateful for more: First, the systems aren’t free in any case, since they are paid for by the taxes of US citizens – and probably indirectly by the rest of us, since you can bet Uncle Sam finds ways of passing it on. Secondly, since the GPS is ‘part of” the phone, the £550 plus which I paid for my iPhone 6 (only joking) includes some unspecified sum for the GPS. I just wish I knew how much. Thirdly, we have to assume that Apple is selling my location to the Carob TreeIMG_8742 so that they can flash me with messages about how near I am. Am I paying for this too? And how much is Apple making? [Which is why the hard left, in the shape of Owen Jones, wants to - of all things - nationalize the phone companies.]

As you can see, the whole pond of economics becomes muddied once you throw all this ‘free’ stuff in. The same, if you have the patience, is true of the unlimited texts, the skype, WhatsApp,… Unpleasant nerdy white Californian males are making more money than any of us can possibly dream of by charging people nothing. What sort of a God, never mind an economic system, allows this – and can I get my hands on a piece of it? It might seem easier (for those of us who are inclined to cultural studies) to interviewphone teenagers – which is usually free, if you can bear it – and then write endless papers describing their use of their iPhones as objects of consumer desire. Cf “‘It’s changed my life’: iPhone as technological artifact”, by Victoria Carrington (in Discourse and Digital Practices, 2011). So climbing the slippery academic ladder – Vic is a professor, so about as high as you can get.

Here, to get away from the teenagers and confront the parents, (who pay for the phones and get analysed), I can’t resist  throwing in  some words from my usual guide in such matters, Jacques-Alain Miller (online interview):

‘ The monetary signifier is one of semblance, which rests on social conventions. The financial universe is an architecture made of fictions and its keystone is what Lacan called a “subject supposed to know”, to know why and how. Who plays this part? The concert of authorities, from where sometimes a voice is detached, Alan Greenspan, for example, in his time. The financial players base their behavior on this. The fictional and hyper-reflexive unit holds by the “belief” in the authorities, i.e. through the transference to the subject supposed to know. If this subject falters, there is a crisis, a falling apart of the foundations, which of course involves effects of panic.

panicGeneral Panic

However, the financial subject supposed to know was already quite subdued because of deregulation. And this happened because the financial world believed, in its infatuated delusion, to be able to work things out without the function of the subject supposed to know. Firstly, the real state assets become waste. Secondly, gradually shit permeates everything. Thirdly, there is a gigantic negative transfer vis-à-vis the authorities; the electric shock of the Paulson/Bernanke plan angers the public: the crisis is one of trust; and it will last till the subject supposed to know is reconstructed. This will come in the long term by way of a new set of Bretton Woods accords, a council enjoined to speak the truth about the truth.’

I can’t think who told Jacques-Alain there were going to be a new set of Bretton Woods accords – he seems hopelessly optimistic which isn’t like a Lacanian.

Weather and hols

Yes, it’s that time of year when we all head off to the beaches and find – at the moment – that Europe has been hit by a crippling heatwave. (A lady on the bus claimed that it was forty degrees in Bratislava, and why should I doubt her?) Gaza, my correspondents tell me,CF76HNfVIAENHRP is no better if you were planning to head for the beach there, and travel is really a hassle. On the other hand, Somalia and Eritrea seem to be cool, if not rainy, and are probably not too crowded if you don’t mind the ever-present warlords and NGOs.


Red Cross in Eritrea

In Guadalajara, this year’s now place, it’s a pleasant 29 degrees although you’ll have to wait till the end of the month for the mariachi festival.


I haven’t posted Remi Kanazi’s ‘Poem for Gaza’, and yet its combination of Gaza and women mathematics students seems irresistible. I’m afraid I only found it in English, but still:

A Poem for Gaza
I never knew death
until I saw the bombing
of a refugee camp
filled with
dismembered         legs
and splattered   torsos
but no sign of a face
the only impression
a fading scream
I never understood pain
until a seven-year-old girl
clutched my hand
stared up at me
with soft brown eyes
waiting for answers
I didn’t have any
I had muted breath
and dry pens in my back pocket
that couldn’t fill pages
of understanding or resolution
in her other hand
she held a key
to her grandmother’s house
but I couldn’t unlock the cell
that caged her older brothers
they said:
we slingshot dreams
so the other side
will feel our father’s presence!
a craftsman
built homes in areas
where no one was building
when he fell
a .50 caliber bullet
tore through his neck
shredding his vocal cords
too close to the wall
his hammer
must have been a weapon
he must have been a weapon
encroaching on settlement hills
and demographics
so his daughter
studies mathematics
seven explosions
eight bodies
four congressional resolutions
seven Apache helicopters
eight Palestinian villages
silence and a second Nakba
our birthrate
their birthrate
one sea and 400 villages re-erected
one state
two peoples
…and she can’t stop crying
never knew revolution
or the proper equation
tears at the paper
with her fingertips
searching for answers
but only has teachers
looks up to the sky
to see Stars of David
demolishing squalor
with Hellfire missiles
she thinks back
words and memories
of his last hug
before he turned and fell
now she pumps
dirty water from wells
while settlements
divide and conquer
and her father’s killer
sits beachfront
with European vernacular
this is our land!, she said
she’s seven years old
this is our land!
she doesn’t need history books
or a schoolroom teacher
she has these walls
this sky
her refugee camp
she doesn’t know the proper equation
but she sees my dry pens
no longer waiting for my answers
just holding her grandmother’s key
for ink


If I’ve posted a track by Fairouz – and it’s certainly possible – it was some time ago. So here she is, singing Sa’altak Habibi

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