Monday, June 17, 2013

This Kind of Game Is Hard to Come By

How do you like that Nietzsche? (Tall, pretty girl talking to me at the bar. Answer nicely.) I’m embarrassed to be reading this in public. It’s the kind of book that someone usually reads at the bar in order to get asked about it. (Jesus.) Do you like it? (She’s obviously trying to chat you up. Make inoffensive small talk.) I got tired of reading it at home. I didn’t want to bring it with me because, to tell you the truth, it seems to me like a book that people would have with them in order to seem intellectual. But I see why Nietzsche is attractive to some people. He poses irrationalism and the embrace of artistic mysticism against the positivism and instrumentality of the German nineteenth century. Mostly I’m reading this because I never have before and I don’t see the point of being proud of ignorance. (For fuck’s sake.) Huh. What do you do? (Say you teach.) I’m a professor. (Are you for reals?) Can I ask you something? (Yes, please do all the talking, so I can shut my fucking mouth.) I’m working on something and I want to hear an opinion from someone outside of my own social circle. (Whatever she asks say something positive.) Let’s hear it. (Whatever she asks you will be encouraging.) I’m developing an interface that allows people to engage in alternative kinds of economic transactions. You can list goods or services and exchange them for equivalent things with other people on the site. So for example, say you can provide an hour of yoga and in exchange you can get back a handmade pair of earrings. Does that sound like something you think that people would be interested in? (You will say something generous.) Yeah, it sounds like something that would really appeal to people with a predisposition toward bourgeois forms of economic romanticism. It’s like farmers’ markets, you know, where people participate in alternative kinds of exchange in order to purchase the illusion that in enabling other people’s unalienated labor they have somehow affirmed their own? (Jesus.) Yeah but couldn’t this also be a way of making it possible for other kinds of people to get things that they might not otherwise be able to get? (She’s white, be gentle.) Are you talking about people of color? ([My mind gave me a silent reproach here.]) I mean, don’t you think that this could make it possible for people of color, as you say, to get stuff that might not be available or cheaper than they might through traditional means? (This is a good point.) That’s a good point but I doubt that they would turn to these kinds of models generally. (Good answer!) Why? (Keep it up!) Because this would appear to most communities of color as a white economic initiative and those communities hold a deep and historically well-founded distrust of white people and their claims of economic betterment. (Fuck.) Hey, thanks for talking to me. [She turned back to her things and didn’t say another word.] (Yep, this is how I thought this would go.)


  1. you had me at 'deep and historically well-founded distrust of white people'

    1. Sounds like I got you a little late. But better late than never!