Tag Archives: Marshall McLuhan

Money Hates Your Heineken and Wants to Fuck

money-case-163495_1280“You can get money for blood,
Blood money for doing no good,
But they won’t take my love for tender”
-Elvis Costello, Clean Money
“Pimp put on weight from fighting them off,
In the mall, you see it and like it, it’s yours,
Thats a nice fit, you ain’t gotta price, shit,
I pays for it like the mics in The Source”
-J Dilla, Won’t Do
“Defendant testified that even though both Plaintiff and her mother told him that all they wanted was an apology, he called Plaintiff’s home and spoke to her mother to offer money for Plaintiff’s ‘education.'”
“One never could ‘buy’ indulgences. The financial scandal surrounding indulgences, the scandal that gave Martin Luther an excuse for his heterodoxy, involved alms—indulgences in which the giving of alms to some charitable fund or foundation was used as the occasion to grant the indulgence. There was no outright selling of indulgences.”
“You got one that’s cool,
Nowadays everybody got two, that’ll do,
but I need another one,
and another one”
-J Dilla, Won’t Do
“… Further, it is anticipated that discovery will reveal that various business associates were aware of Defendant’s actions and not only failed to warn Plaintiff but actively participated in her victimization.”
“It was the ’70s, everybody—people did this. And there it all was: monsters, rock-and-roll, a spooky castle, leather jackets, motorcycles, cannibalism, polymorphous perversion, and, as promised, ‘lots of larfs and sex!'”
“When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?”
-Allen Ginsberg, America
Money as cleansing baptism. (Screencap from Duck Tales. copyright: Disney Corporation)

A map published of the terms most used in searching for pornography in the United States shows the Republican areas surrounding the Stand Your Ground state of Florida searching the term “ebony”. Florida’s top search term is “cream pie.”In a similar manner, money’s most closeted desire and intensely focused lust revolves around its own miscegenation. It wants to make markets with anything and anyone, but in the privacy of globalization. The “developing world” is the bathroom where money jerks off for fear of anyone seeing it. Globalization is the sex tourism of the thing without sex.

Its sexuality intermingles with its castration anxiety in a potent stew that pushes the dialectic of the personal and private toward new extremes. What was once termed “the denial” is now also the confession; this is the true meaning of Orwell’s “doublespeak.” Linguistic obfuscation is so widespread as to replace its opposite and become meaningless.

To he who hath all shall be given. To he who hath not, even what he hath shall be taken away.

The social chameleon, the method actor, the corporate sociopath, the confidence man and their overlaps. All embody the deeply shared dream of complete elasticity of identity.This is why we obsess over them.

Marx calls money “the universal equivalent“. McLuhan frames it as a thing that translates objects and puts them into rigid spacial relations in the manner of the printed word. It’s a translation tool the way a map translates the environment. With urban planning, the map comes to replace the primacy of the environments it initially describes as the money takes centrality over the use-value of the products it translates.

The beloved method actors (Streep, Nicholson etc) have two primary characteristics at the center of their styles: 1) they seem able to “become” anyone, 2) in doing so they tend to also dominate their environment.

Performers who can translate themselves with perfect fluidity so as to dominate their environment.

The ultimate Oscar bait role is that of the currency.

Memory wipe.

I searched “money” on Google images today and 90% of the results were either:

1) Stacks of it arranged to resemble architecture, the urban environment in back-translation.

2) Pictures of it in rolls unintentionally resembling paper towels or intentionally like toilet paper.

Money is a cleaning product. It allows us to get dirty without lasting consequence.

We dream of being baptized in it and reborn like Jay Gatsby. Gatsby’s greatest sin, the reason he had to die, was that his money was “false.”

Money baptizes and cleans by making things real. Telling people I shot a film for $53, they frequently respond “Oh, ok, I thought you meant a real movie.”

I’m in my mid-20s. People ask me all the time:

“So when are you going to get a real job?”

Robert Ashley states it best:

“Television is neither true nor false.
It’s industry.
Television made without industry…
Alone, in a word…
Can cause a sinking feeling.
There can be a loss of trust.
Fear not darkness, i.e.,
Not industry.
Nor your own…
Everybody works to be a part of industry.
To be a part of industry is to be real.
If you’re a part of industry, both in your
Industriousness and in the nature of your work,
There is a chance that everybody will like your work,
Because it is a part of industry.
And things that are not a part of industry
Are not possible to like.
Likeability is less important than
Recognition by the industry.
‘N that’s a reason to be serious.”
Capitalism is a Catholicism that runs entirely on indulgences. The calls of the neolibertarians are an argument for its secular divine right.

Charles Atlas.jpg

You’ve all probably seen this ad before.

It works entirely in visual reversals organized like an onion. The first and last panels are mirrors, as are the second and second to last. Skinny becomes “real” by literally becoming the bully in different colored shorts.

And the little ball at the center of the onion, the self-creation of the image. Skinny can’t be sure he’s ready to return to the beach for revenge until going through Lacan’s mirror.

The dream is colorful and draws the eye. The actual Charles Atlas, black and white and quite possibly dead by the time this ad was printed, can hardly compete. The top half is the promised wish-fulfillment of the image; the bottom its translation into the then language of the preceding era, an era as dead as Charles Atlas, the massive block of text.

Of course the all caps “YOU” next to Atlas’s head is the missing double to the cartoon’s unpaired image of the mirror. The second person is the written word’s invitation to style ourselves in its carefully distorted reflection.

The male and female reader will validly and subconsciously read the seemingly empty female character legitimately but differently the same way I don’t look like you in a mirror just because we both looked into it.

The female reader sees her as the prize being fought over, the man sees her as the emperor in the gladiator’s arena giving the thumbs up or down.

How do MRAs feel oppressed and not silly? That’s how.

The woman here and elsewhere in the terrain of mass media-the invisible-visible specter of social rejection. Skinny can give the bully a “love-tap” actively but only passively hope for the approval of the supposed thing he actively desires. In the possessive male gaze: the anxiety nothing is looking back.

The beds have been changed but the dreams haven’t.

America initially existed as the fervent prayer there might be a world elsewhere. The denial of the utopia only seems to increase its absent presence as a ghost floating over the proceedings of existence.

We look at America and see ourselves or our absence and little else.


The mirror does not return out gaze.

A new sort of capital is fought over in the distorted photocopy of class war that dominates the present-the careful, controlled distribution of assertions against the anxiety of non-existence.

Defined functionally: the “like” button, the “upvote”. The strike of the current moment is the consumer strike.

To go back to the beginning of this series of articles, I again ask myself of the Reddit strike: “Why didn’t they consider it a strike? Why wasn’t the thing they wanted compensation?”

I answer this time: the Reddit strikers were asking for were improved conditions in their corner of the internet, the factory where they work all day consuming things. They self-define as consumers. They revolt on these lines. Internet revolts are revolts of the consumer. They ask for their favorite TV shows to be renewed, they fight ardently for equality in the space of image production. The first and most ardently protected part of Occupy Wall Street was the “Media Working Group”. When the park grew they eventually escaped the park into the privacy of an office.

McLuhan mentions in Understanding Media: “When the Spaniards were besieging Leyden in 1574, leather money was issued, but as hardship increased the population boiled and ate the new currency.”

Cannibalism has always been most rich as a metaphor. Fully commodified man, the product sold to advertisers, has become money walking. He can only revolt by eating himself alive.