Jaquet-Droz Automata

For me  it’s not only easy to appreciate the intelligence in Carl Jung’s accurate description of Adolf Hitler, but also it sends strong shivers down my spine every time I read it.

“Hitler seemed like the ‘double’ of a real person, as if Hitler the man might be hiding inside like an appendix, and deliberately so concealed in order not to disturb the mechanism … You know you could never talk to this man; because there is nobody there … It is not an individual; it is an entire nation.”

I’m not trying to downplay, deny or ignore the role and responsibility of the people who commit atrocities. But I can agree with Jung’s description of the tyrant, being a medium and a distilled essence of collective ignorance, hate and greed of its followers. An ordinary criminal does wrong things to satisfy his own desires, a tyrant satisfies himself by becoming a medium of all wrong desires of a cult who chose him as their symbol and guide. So what he does is more destructive than a lone criminal, because not only he has political power to do so, but also, can tap into the infinite source of destructive creativity produced by his cult. It’s a vicious circle that intensifies its own effect. They make an unwritten deal with their followers and supporters to be possessed by their desires to stay in power.

I’ve seen this horrible emptiness in the face of many living tyrants. There is some truth in their boasting of being invincible and eternal; If they got killed, until the cause (ignorance, poverty, prejudice, feeling of cultural inferiority and etc.) are in place, soon there will be another person who will take their place. They are the symptom of social disease, not the cause of it. However, once manifested, they contribute to and intensify the cause. (i.e. They enhance the hate, poverty, ignorance and the feeling of the cultural inferiority)

To me, they look like a horrible form of a Jaquet-Droz automata, restlessly and involuntarily writing the pages of history, with blood.

Of blood and money

Being a designer, I’m always conscious of inspirations taken from nature that made their influence into production of artificial creations; a society is like a body, with a set of systems each designed to perform a certain task, just like the human body. We have hearts and livers and bones in our bodies, just like we have departments for energy, environment and infrastructure maintaining our societies. Now my question is, in this comparison, where is the place of money?

Is it possible to draw analogies between money and blood? Or maybe it’s more similar to our central nervous system?

Saint Homobonus, the patron saint of business people, tailors, shoemakers, and clothworkers, as well as of Cremona, Italy.
Saint Homobonus, the patron saint of business people, tailors, shoemakers, and clothworkers, as well as of Cremona, Italy.

Money stands for many things and have various functions. It’s a medium of exchange. It’s also a unit of account – this gets tricky because it’s not pegged to any perpetual physical metric; we can’t say for example, one dollar is the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuüm in 1/299792458 of a second. Even, it’s not possible to maintain a stable relationship with a commodity for a long time. Also, money is a store of value, like gold and silver or stocks. The “value” itself is an evasive idea; there are theories trying to define value, some based on the premise that price of goods and services is not a function of subjective judgment, and others relate the economic worthiness of goods and services to supply and demand.

So, can we draw analogies between money and blood? Blood is a medium of exchange. We can call it a unit of account too, and it’s surely a store of value. Most of the body organs use blood as a medium of exchange, but this exchange is in it’s most abstract form – biologists should pardon my naïveté – can be viewed as a reciprocal process; if blood is money, then we have positive money and negative money. Cells receive positive money and return the used, negative money. The negative money returns to system and somehow restored to its positive state. It’s very difficult to keep drawing comparisons from this point on.

Money seems to have no equal in nature. It’s the only thing that we made without mimicking something we saw on earth. It’s a strange phenomena. It’s not a tool every monkey can make, it’s more sophisticated than love. (Which can be understood with MRI machines and biochemistry.) Thinkers underestimated the money. They labeled it dirty and immoral. They tried to ignore it, living in their romantic utopias.But money was a reality that turned their Utopias into hell.

Maybe nature has something to tell us here. Maybe our medium of exchange, our unit of account and our store of value, which is remained almost technically intact during the ages (Except for moving from commodity money, to representative money and finally to angst-ridden fiat money), is a rough and incapable financial instrument for addressing the complexities of our world. Maybe someone should look at the body, or the planet ecosystem, and just like the first human who drew inspirations from birds wings to create a flying objects, looks at the complexities of our world and create a more efficient instrument to replace it.

…And no, I’m not thinking about it the Karl Marx way.