Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Golden Fleece

What makes us love gold? It's shininess and luxury. Ah, but brass is also shiny and beautiful. But people want the gold. If you were a castaway on a desert island and had some brass, you wouldn't care that it weren't gold. So it's something not about the physical properties of the gold but its relation to something else. What is that something? Well, you are alone on the desert island and in that case do not care whether your telescope is made of gold or brass. So it must be a relation to something absent. The comforts of civilization of course. But some of those are shiny luxury goods, and you don't care about the gold, so you won't care about them. So what is missing?

Other people are missing. When you are back home, they admire your finery, but here you are alone. So the relationship between you and gold is really the relationship between you and other persons. They put the value on the gold (diamonds, furniture, car), but the gold is really the intermediary between you and the appreciator.

Money works this way. On that island the money is just paper. You could make better use of it as kindling, but try to barter with it. So value rests in the relationship one person to others. The greater the value the object, the greater the value of the relationship. But is it?

In many countries people regard people with wealth with greater esteem. Think of how impressed some are with the people who have yachts, private jets, and mansions. The press in America used to have headline features of what the rich were up to: "Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt to Hold Gala Ball." And you get the royal treatment when you dine in Tavern on the Green, but go into a greasy spoon, and the waitress says: "Sit over there. I'll be there in a minute, Hon." So many people dole out respect according to how much wealth you have.

The relationship then is not ego to object but ego to ego. As the medium of exchange in relationships is often gold (or money, silver, commodities in general), relationships are often built on falseness. And, as they are not really built on value of others' spirits or goodness or good deeds but on the wealth they acquire, we can give to relationships a negative premium. It is based on "love thy neighbor"...if thy neighbor owns more. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

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