Perspectives

  • Issue 100 / July - August 2014



    A Greek Column

    Lawrence Brazier

    We are bound to confront Greece and the recent Greek experience with their affairs of state - meaning the one they are in. First and foremost, I have a theory. Please bear with me, for it may not be a good theory, but it is all my own.

    I contend that Money has acquired a character, a personality, if you like. So there you are, you have Mr. and Mrs. Average on the street, and then there is Money. It is best to keep Money otherwise anonymous, for it has become uppity enough. In the old days, people would say that "money talks" and that inference has been made fact. Nowadays, Money makes a dialogue to fit its own ends and Money knows where it is going, with whom it is having dinner tonight, whom it is going to embarrass due to its immediate absence, and the person or company it is going to ruin in the morning.

    Money, you might say, has got Greece on the skids. It is not really the fault of Greece or Grecians in general, because, you see, Money has become sly, altogether its own boss.

    Nevertheless, despite the awful Cloud of Unknowing hovering over Athens, the Greeks of our acquaintance have been generous to a fault. We have been offered many a meze (a small plate of olives, feta, sausage, etc.), coffee or glass of ouzo free of charge. There has been a bon vivant air to our relationships, but we are convinced that due to the rather cavalier handling of their monetary means, these jolly persons do not wish to have a mainland psyche.

    Who was it who said that "only a millionaire can afford to be a communist"? Never mind, the notion is perfectly applicable to Greece and its very nice people. It could mean that either they are all transcended souls and have seen something that we have not, or simply don't give two figs for the idea of poverty. This is true on the islands, that is! Athens is another matter altogether.

    In much the same way that there are countries in which poverty means a less strenuous existence than in some others. (Being poor in Austria, for example, is bearable. Poverty in some other countries, which we do not name, would be quite horrid.) Life for the Greek islanders is obviously less affected than life for those living in Athens. In the islands in other words, Money has none of the packed dependents that a metropolis offers to exert its lack of presence. Athens may well be the seat of government, but the islands seem to require little governing. One can't shake off the feeling that Money has made itself essential to the running of a financial capital and nowhere else, because that is what financial capitals are for. See? The capital cities of this world are all a home-from-home for Money. We shudder at the thought of Brussels, which obviously needs paying for, going the same way.

    My wife and I have decided to have no truck with money (we have de-capitalised it for a start). Should money stray our way, we will toss it into a corner and let it sulk for a bit; we may send it to a Third World country, which is where it belongs, but we will NOT go out and spend it. Moreover, we will excommunicate it from our feelings; we will not thrill at the thought of it; we will not indulge in sprees, thereby refusing to have a good time on the strength of money. Above all, we will resist the attraction of what money can buy. (There is a lovely little chrome-vanadium ratchet-spanner set that keeps beckoning to me when I pass its shop window.) We have pierced this monetary fog of collusion with the searchlight of our mind. We may want something but we rarely need it. That may sound like a pretty ordinary thought process, but one does require a certain resolve to carry the cross. Thus, down with glitter, down with sell, and back to the village life that serves us well.

    The lady (one's financially bemused wife) is a bit unsure of all this, despite the fact that she can circulate through a supermarket ("they always give me a headache") and emerge with a full trolley in ten minutes flat, while one is still wrestling with the urge to buy a needless gadget.

    The answer is obvious! We must drop out! We may be in the world but we will not be of it! We will say "get thee behind me - thou shalt follow and not lead."

    But can one avoid money? The machine one writes on was purchased with money. We may feel smug and contend that it is paid for and that's that! But money has induced some manufacturers to produce goods that are set to implode within three years. Thus, money needs to circulate to feel OK, to do the rounds, check out the joints and the venues, get fluttered every so often, muscle in on things and throw its weight about, get turned into cheques and then get cashed, get wired somewhere, get bought and sold. My goodness, can one really buy and sell money? If so, what does one use in the process of buying and selling? A popular brand of beer sold in Greece is called Mythos. Go figure!

    Lawrence Brazier is a writer living with his wife in rural Austria. His main interest is mystical experience.

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