Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Selling Dreams

Am reading the latest Terry Pratchett book Making Money when I saw the following. It's a revelation by the main character, Moist von Lipwig.

It was a dream, but Moist was good at selling dreams. And if you could sell the dream to enough people, no one dared wake up.

Is human culture just the accumulated dreams of leaders, tricksters, and confidence men, whose dreams we have bought into and made our own and we dare not wake up for fear of losing the comforting illusions we've been taught to accept as reality? Illusions of justice, finance, economics, religion - most human culture, are just that, fantasies? They sell you dreams in public school, don't they? Work hard, study hard, tell the truth, obey your "wise" leaders and Life will work out. The whole point of Making Money is that money is a dream, a convenient fiction, but Douglas Adams has said the same thing.


Interesting post John

I think "justice, finance, economics, religion - most human culture" are human constructs. At the extreme they could be called dreams or illusion. But I think making money, justice and religions are better described as systems of values.

I think making money (universally and regrettably) is the most rigteous, valued and respectable of achievements. Most age groups especially the young look up to the trappings of wealth - hence Paris Hiltons and Donald Trumps bizarre fame.

Even religions look up to money - hence rich TV ministries and gold plated Cathedral interiors (eg the Vatican).


Money is just a convenient construct, a medium of exchange. In a gold mine, gold is worthless, the medium of exchange is a pickaxe or some other method to extract the gold ore. On a desert island, gold is worthless, wealth would be measured in food or other objects. This was pointed out in Making Money. Money is a means to an end, not the end. People confuse that. Just because society says that the accumulation of wealth is a virtue doesn't mean that it really is. Wealth will not necessarily save you if you become ill for instance. Paris Hilton and Donald Trump were born into wealth. Trump may have increased his wealth, but he didn't exactly start out from scratch. The people who invest in their families or in other people are likely wealthier than the Hiltons or the Trumps. One has to let go of possessions and everything else when one dies.
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