a third abstraction: non-liquid money in the Zizekian framework?

Given Zizek's discussion of Marx's unfinished treatment of "the material character of money," it is interesting to consider what separates us - in this 21st century multinational iteration of capitalism - from the very exchange value system of which Zizek speaks (p 18). Zizek is interested in the ways in which the value of money is abstracted from its actual material form. Yet we currently reside in a moment when tangible gold-standard transactions are expired. And while the value once placed on gold – the formerly defining unit of measure of monetary value – is itself an abstraction of Zizekian sorts, the " 'indestructible and immutable' body" of even our non-liquid currency remains (p 18).

I wondered, while reading this early section, how the exchange system of postmodernity (however you choose to define it) differs from that of the Marxian era of capitalism. It seems that it is this very postmodern instance of non-tangible decentralized plastic money that dominates our current system of exchange – whether it be on the personal level of credit cards, or the corporate level of stock exchanges. The interesting thing is that Zizek's analysis remains true, and if anything is magnified by this most Jamesonian condition. How do people see Zizek's analysis translating into this less material presence of money as exchange?

Along these lines, would aha's example of counterfeiture - the artist drawing and exchanging currency - constitute 'an irruption of the Real'? I seem to remember 3NT describing it in similar terms.

--Guattari Hero

I thought a lot about the “realness” hard, cold, cash carries these days when I read this section on what Zizek talks about as the abstraction – or the “sublime material” of money. I feel as money – and by this I mean actual cash, not credit, or numbers in a bank, but the actual wad of cash you can hold – IS the closest to the real we will ever get . . . even if the gold standard no longer exists.

True, Zizek’s definition of money (taken from Sohn-Rethel) on page 19: “Its physical matter has visibly become a mere carrier of its social function.” But there DOES still—I think—exist a realness in cash itself. If you pay in cash, you have the money (at least at that particular moment), i.e. you are not racking up debt by charging it on credit (unless you obtained the cash by taking out a loan, etc.) Basically what I’m getting at is that I think the function of cash is more real than the function of newer automatic transactions, which carry more “sublime materialilty” than does cash.

Then I got to wondering, why does cash even exist anymore? National pride in printed money as a way of affirming national symbols and concepts of importance? (Check out any printed bill if you want proof of this). I’m no economist, but I would say that a huge reason for the strong existence of cash in the digital is the prominence of the informal economy (things done “off the record” or “under the table,” like babysitting, craigs list transactions, and I would assume to a huge extent, drug dealing). Which then got me wondering, how many people in congress—who have the power to begin to move away from cash—are benefiting from non-traceable transactions? Hmmmm.

I think it’s interesting that cash even exists anymore . . . how long do you guys think it will persist??? And a interesting question: why will cash exist?

In the beginning, Zizek seems to denounce the physical aspect of money by describing it as having the simple use of providing the meaning behind money a way to be transported physically. He talks about the results of wear and tear, therefore, I think the answer is not something we need to even think about too much. It seems that we are simply thinking of more effective methods (like plastic cards) to transport around the meaning/symbology of this money that increasingly does not rely on its physical components for its value in the postmodern (where everything is just seems to rely on image).