December 8th, 2010 / 11:11 am
Behind the Scenes

What happens when you talk about money?

Right now you can pre-order the 10th issue of MAKE.

Pre-ordering is like clapping for a performer before they’ve appeared on stage. You’re clapping for what they’ve already done, hoping that the performance about to begin will be at least as good as that. Or maybe it’s more like buying a ticket, saving your place by saying, I want to be there when it finally happens. Of course you’re saying it, but with money.

Just now, typing this, I’m noticing that what usually happens when I talk about money is happening–I start to listen to myself from a place outside of myself, and the self who goes on talking starts to feel that what she’s saying is lame, and the self who listens gets suspicious of the self who goes on talking even though she feels that what she’s saying is lame. Does something like this split happen to you when you talk about money? If it does, I wonder whether it’s an American thing to feel this. Does this happen for people in China? Russia? The Congo? How do other people feel when they talk about money?

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  1. Mike Young

      this happens when i talk about money but not when i spend money, which is the elephant

  2. Tim

      You only feel lame about it because we all like to think we can do whatever we want with 15 cents and our own electric brilliance, and that everyone else can do the same, and so it’s gauche in a way, even just privately, to talk about the importance of dollars. I mean, I feel the same weird conflict sometimes. But of course it’s very hard to produce art of a certain type for long if no one supports it financially, no matter how great the art is.

  3. Sean

      Are you going to make money or art?

  4. Evelyn Hampton

      I think what you’re saying is this: we feel lame talking about money because we like to think that everyone has the same access that we have to the same stuff that we want. Is that right? I think I agree with that, but I don’t necessarily agree with what’s after your “But of course”. I think it depends on a lot, including what supplies are needed and how able a person is to find ways of surviving without much money.

  5. Evelyn Hampton

      That’s a good point. It’s like spending money becomes a way of not talking about money.

  6. Tim

      I agree that some people will adapt to financial limitations, but I think they’ll produce different work than they would if they didn’t have to adapt. A painter can’t make the same paintings without money for canvases, paints, etc., or promote the work without money for a website, travel, a computer for communications, etc. A writer who has to use a humming keyboard-clacking 1998 Compaq desktop will probably make different work than someone with a modern machine with a good internet connection, etc. Or even beyond tool limitations: someone who has to work multiple jobs at strange hours will have less energy for art than someone who works a more relaxed schedule.

  7. Tim

      Both simultaneously: start a cult.

  8. Sean

      not in the process

  9. Evelyn Hampton

      I agree with all that–but how will those people who find ways of adapting talk about money, their ways of adapting? I’m not asking you, just asking. That’s what I was trying to get at: why do we talk (or not talk) about money the way we do, and how do people in other places and cultures talk (or not) about money. I think I need to talk to a money-culture anthropologist. I feel that mostly in America we hear from the money-culture apologists.

  10. Tim

      This is starting to sound like the germ of a longer essay. I would like to learn about these things as well.

  11. Tim
  12. MM

      tim that also flops; see the pointy prow that parts the water? you stick a missile in your missive when you say “gimme gimme”, (methinks).

      the they who bop in poverty have a special liberty. a cello is not a pinnacle. one can concoct an interleaving textile with the things they’ve found, it only takes practice and imagination. Oulipans instantly understand constraint — it is not some penury but rather a forced coherency, idiosyncrasy, an honesty a lot less contrived than all that pre-fab couch-and-curtain semi-American upholstery.

      (yet of course, as in all, there is too a lot of shit)

  13. MM

      Yes I think that this is it: What will cause someone to be so smitten by the muse? Why me, why you; yet why not ABCDEFG and most of our alphabetical stand-in-line society?

      But there is also a humanism and sympathy and hope for an open humanity, a handholding sort. In black caverns it gets called socialism, but good cultist Jeez would certainly have approved.

      The SF Diggers really said a lot of it well, however hippy-stylized were their words. For better un-slang prose, see “Deep Tried Frees”, a wonderfully lit-worthy essay interpreting the aforementioned, mostly masterminded by the man who discovered Bill B, the secret lost beat.

      As for other cultures, there might be a taboo or two, but in many sudden lotterylike situations, money is always money, we all have our fantasies. The largest cultural difference between the West and the rest is the breakdown of the family. Many foreigners send back every penny, whereas I still haven’t even bought a button from the campaign to aid my friends being held hostage in Iran. (Fattal and I once tried to revive Kaliflower for a new generation, actually).

      I hope you all don’t hate me. Seriously, be good to one another, be honest, be open that anyone is anyone. And think about how nice it is to have community. There is plenty of “free” that goes on WITHIN the family, but otherwise there is a mystical spirit responsible, a sparkle we call charity, we call music, we call serendipity.