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Art After Money Money After Art

Started by droqen, June 21, 2023, 01:34:18 PM

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Regarding Max Haiven's
"Art After Money Money After Art"


I forget who recommended this book to me, but damn this introduction is really hitting some good notes. I'll be back with several quotes after i finish the introduction chapter.


 Haiven reiterates a few terms throughout this book, fingers of a slightly larger idea which is not too complicated, and could have been explored more briefly. I'm glad to have only skimmed AAMMAA: most of the book is spent saying the same thing.

It is a good thing, but made unnecessarily wordy.

Here are some examples of disgustingly overdone lists (See SYNAPSE: ~Lists to better understand my perspective on lists) from page 212:

Quote. . . creativity, cultural expression, imagination, autonomy, and critique . . .

. . . fragmentary, indirect, cryptic, prefigurative, exploratory, experimental and ultimately impossible . . .

. . . better, more reliable, more autonomous, more trustworthy or even fairer . . .

. . . better express autonomy or creativity . . .

. . . better critique or castigate . . .

It is frustrating to see one idea, one good idea, stretched so thin whether due to inefficiency or a desire to (dare I say?) pad the page count.


So what it is saying, if I'm claiming it can be put so simply? I will borrow Haiven's language to paraphrase what I can, but to be clear, this is an idea that I suppose could take 20 pages rather than 200, not an idea that I think can be expressed in a few sentence by me. I'm not an expert on the idea at all, and I suppose I can further excuse myself by claiming that the writing style is actively getting in the way of my comprehending it.

With caveat in place, what is it saying?


Imaginative cooperation of the common.

"The magnitude and scope of the potential for imaginative cooperation exceeds the imagination at the same time as it animates the imagination." (210, 212) (211 is an image with caption)
~ PRIVATE July 2 - Characters

". . . how we imagine and therefore contribute to the generative, self-organizing social organism of which we are a part: the common." (210)

Encryption and money.

". . . money . . . is one of the most adept and profound tools we have ever developed for reflecting and manipulating---in other words mediating---the common[.]" (212)

". . . I have sought to frame money as a capitalist encryption of our capacities for imaginative cooperation. . . a fundamentally [violent and] inaccurate method for coordinating and organizing social life." (156)

"In contrast, the neoliberal approach sees money as . . . a convenient and neutral expression of humanity's competitive and acquisitive nature. . ." (156)


Perhaps I have not read the book well enough, but I found no purchase on the positive topic of money art, or art money. There were certainly described examples of it. But what do they mean? There was little to interpret, and little interpretation which interested me. Haiven made claims in the introduction which I thought were interesting, but I don't know that he particularly built on top of them in what I saw in my skim through the book.

"[Art] only emerged under capitalism and coevolves with it." (14)

". . . art cannot be corrupted by capitalism because it has always already been derivative of capitalism." (15)

"Creativity, imagination, autonomy, symbolic communication and intellectual play would, I should hope, be integrated into the fabric of life, not (as today) encrypted, dead and yet alive, in a rarified sphere of "art."" (11)


Possibly I am simply not wrapped up in these art worlds Haiven occupies or is exposed to. If I was more interested in the goings-on of high value art and/or "HNWI (High Net Worth Individuals)" then maybe this book's exploration of art money and money art would mean something more to me, but as things stand I feel it serves to highlight my alienation from such a place.

It exists, of course, but my interest in it does not overlap too much with Max Haiven's. My interest for now is in remaining in blissful ignorance.


I am not so interested in studying, reacting to, dismantling, this financializing "encryption" of the common.

I am interested in the common, and seeing it clearly seems simple enough. No need for elaborate studies of encryption and decryption.

I would like to understand how real systems help to manage the common and where they fall short: effectively I want to work with the systems we have without worrying too much about understanding every little detail, while to my eyes Haiven both:

1. valorizes reactionary too-detailed obsessions over exactly those details, and

2. hopes to abolish the entire system anyway.

I don't see eye-to-eye with him on either of these, but I especially don't understand the purpose of doing both. They are impulses so at odds with one another. Although one may benefit from seeking to "Know the enemy," I would characterize Haiven's perspective more as Fetishizing the enemy.


Quote. . . the immanent potential of imaginative cooperation. . . . this is the potential that all systems of power seek to subordinate, usually by force or coercion, but that capitalism extracts and orchestrates primarily through money [Encrypting it]


I am left, after all my complaining, with a singular important imprint on my mind given by this book. Actually, I call it complaining, but it is the sort of thing that I absolutely need to do these days in order to find the good stuff in the middle. Disagreement... I don't do it to distance myself (though it can end up there), I do it to voice and get rid of distractions, rather than allowing them to have their unnamed power over me.

~ Preparing to read Games : Agency as Art for a 2nd time

Now that I know what didn't do it for me, I know what did:

The way that money encrypts. It doesn't really do anything on its own -- money doesn't make the world go 'round, as they say; rather, money encrypts the world's going-'round-ness.

Like Haiven I too am drawn to artmoney, or moneyart, or whatever it is that he says: work that engages with money in a way that is intentional, noticing this 'crypt' as a crypt, in a way obsessing over negative details (as I have about his book) so that we can then step back and perceive what remains.

I don't want to become a willing participant in the encryption of what drives the world. It's ironic how "money makes the world go 'round" perfectly encapsulates the encryption itself: the fantasy of money that today drives it.

The belief that money makes the world go 'round is the belief that drives the very encryption which defines money.


Encryption is, however, not the neutral term which I'd prefer. When seeing money like this, with clear eyes, its paper or plastic transparent, what is it? It is no longer an encryption, but a tangible mnemonic, a collectively imagined form we give to some thing otherwise intangible. Encryption is a way of looking at it -- being incapable of deciphering it is merely one possible state of mind.