I think about money a lot. I think about money, but I don’t understand it, and I don’t understand it any better the more I think about it. Probably I understand it worse. I don’t know how to save or even spend money — at least not like a proper adult or “man” — or whether it is fucking sweeter to be rich or more noble to be poor, or preferable to give your money away to benevolent causes like “Bike Lanes Everywhere Now” or “Racism: No” or “Let’s Stop Birds Flying into Skyscrapers,” rather than sew hundred dollar bills into the lining of your pants and walk around like a weird king, all rustling and sneakily, surreptitiously rich.
When I am confused about things I flee to fiction. From fiction I don’t necessarily want or expect answers — in fact answers make me suspicious of the author, because if this person has answers why are they making up stories when they should be president or head scientist of the world or something? Often I am most comforted by stories that capture people like me, who share my confusion, who struggle, who don’t know, who try and fail and try, and who sometimes get so desperately drunk they fill their sleeping bags with barf.
Check what you’ve heard: money can buy happiness, or at least rent it, but money cannot, ever, make you feel less alone, at least in the same remarkable way that fiction does. I’ve never hired a prostitute, though I’ve been in the VIP room at a strip club (which is pretty close, except no touching!) and while I was happy enough dropping $200 to watch a beautiful naked person dance around, I came out of there feeling “as lonesome as the world’s first ghost,” especially because the stripper didn’t want to leave her stripper life and run away with me to Shefford, Quebec.
When the nice editors of this website gave me the power to command fiction submissions upon any theme I wanted, I commanded stories of money. It was a flailing attempt at camaraderie, I think, though I’m not sure what I was expecting in return. Many of the stories submitted were not of or about or even tangentially related to money — and since the pay would be zero dollars, none of the stories was for money, either. But since that was the case, weren’t they all about money, in some way, or at least about the fact that there are people out there who are doing (or did) something with their time that is (or was) not preoccupied with the making or spending or saving of money? (Though maybe after spending all that time writing and editing their stories all these people thought, “Time = money = fuckballs!” and/or “Fuckballs, now I have to get a real job.”)
Basically I think all art should be free. I’m just saying. If you haven’t seen the Steven Soderbergh movie, The Girlfriend Experience, you should, because to me this is a very good articulation of the innate and implicit emptiness in paying money to be moved emotionally. So if you pay for your art, it’s always compromised in some way . . . right? So, I don’t know, go sneak into an art gallery or shoplift a book from Barnes & Noble or something. Or maybe just read these stories, because they’re free, and the people who created them did so, I hope, without thinking about money at all.