The Great Hoax

7ec57c086b1d7f10276acec40a77d95dNothing is easier than to spend money, whether for pleasure or for need. Much harder is to earn that same money. Even harder it is to spend money we don’t own and the hardest it is to pay back the money we borrowed, whether for pleasure or for need. Either way, it is the possibility to spend that money that can make our day bright or miserable: buying food, paying the bills, sending kids to school, going on a vacation, buying a book, enjoying an evening out and so forth. Little daily actions that may change the overall perception of our existence: which food we can afford to buy, which school we can afford to attend, which cities we can afford to visit and which drinks we can afford to drink. Either way, it is all in the numbers that we see on the receipt of a grocery store, or in the balance of our bank account. Either way, we need those numbers to add up to what we need or desire.

In some capacities, the Pythagorean vision of a cosmos revolving around numbers has become a state of things, so real that we don’t even notice those number if not in their balance: what comes in and what comes out. Input and output. The underscoring desire is to make sure to have those numbers balancing each other out, to reach if not a positive balance at least a reassuring, albeit unsettling, “zero”.

If the balance adds up to more than what we put out there for our needs and pleasures, it means that something is left for us to build on: saving, programming an evening out, buying a house. No matters what: a positive balance gives us the option of choosing, even if we ultimately decide to do nothing. To put those numbers to rest, to save them for a rainy day.

The  “0” balance is the minimum requirement, the minimal goal. Yet, “zero” is technically not even a number, it represents the absence of unities. It is nothing. Living up to one’s means, and not beyond, means to live at the level of “zero”, of the absence of anything else.

Today, a “zero” balance, the nothingness, is in many cases reason of bliss: “we made it, we got nothing, we survived”. We receive numbers and give numbers away in a mutual and perpetual exchange. The rule of the “zero” is a form of social contract to keep the balance among people. A sort of generalized nothingness to maintain everything as it is.

If we don’t add numbers to that zero, if we don’t build on top of this nothingness, we have no choice, no option, no possibility of making decision but to spend money we don’t have, to inject in the world numbers which do not belong to us. To be able to enjoy some freedom, we may necessarily go below the “zero”: acquiring more but living below “nothing” hoping to not only re-balance everything one day to “zero” but eventually to add something more. It is obvious that there can be no expansion of life, no decision making, if we don’t overcome the “zero” and the moment the threshold of our survival is pushed forward a new limit is set, a new boundary of the necessary balance is established; a boundary that exists only to be surpassed again and again. There are no eternal numbers, in this Pitagora was wrong, but only a temporal succession of ever increasing addition, subtractions, multiplications.

We see it at home, at work, at the coffee shop, at the convenience store as well as the more elegant boutique: no real development without the option of displacing numbers here and there.

Numbers that we see printed on cash, on coins, and even more on cards and screens: sequences of deposits and withdrawal, and balances that need to be leveled. A world of numbers that can survive only if the limit of nothingness is overcome. A perfect life of “zero” exists only in the animal and vegetal world, where the balance without expansion means the survival of every creature. To us, moving numbers means to move balances, to create temporarily or permanent disparities: a paradoxical world where numbers are not equal for everybody, where they do not signify the same thing. This is the great hoax: a scientific and secular world based on an relative objectivity.


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