Energy is not scarce. Money is. If, as I’ve described in several previous essays, money is a way of ascertaining value via markets, what’s the reason for this seeming discrepancy?
Energy gets wasted. A lot. Think of how many solar panels you see on the average day. Then think about how much sunlight you see on the average day. Chances are, there’s a lot of underutilized energy.
Human hands are on obvious energy outlet. Used with the human brain, they can create complex systems. When we say complex systems are a product of human ingenuity, we essentially mean they are a concentration of energy.
Thinking is, perhaps ironically, quite resource intensive. It requires leisure, which requires work, and the tools to feed thought. That means a single formula from the likes of Pascal, Newton, or Einstein, is the product of an immense amount of energy. As Einstein himself noted, it is more energy to sift through many useful things and distill until what remains is dense but brilliant. That’s what a diamond is.
That’s also where gold comes from. Gold as an element is interesting. Divisible, fungible, beautiful, resilient. But more interesting is the energy required to mine it, to capture it.
In some ways, it’s a lot like beautiful women. They require correspondingly more energy to capture. This makes them a bit like gems. Gems are pretty things that you wear on a ring or a crown. They may not be valuable in and of themselves. But they show that you had the capacity of gathering them. A “status symbol” has real value in an energetic sense (see these essays for an explanation: http://goo.gl/mGI5r6).
It’s easy to see that energy going into something produces a certain type of result, something that is either a condensation of energy, or a visible representation of energy expenditure. This is one way that we perceive value.
Money doesn’t always link up with these things. Generally speaking, the modern world places the government and corporations in perpetual conflict. It’s a war of all against all, governments to provide regulations and corporations to violate or remove them for the sake of profit.
The old way was something else, something we call “culture.” Culture in the positive sense is a mapping of money to value. There is an implicit awareness and valuation of the energies that circulate. It’s
Among other things, that’s why printing money haphazardly is so destructive. It destroys the fabric of underlying value. Instead of the product of energy, it becomes the product of theft.
Theft is any attempt to appropriate things produced with a certain amount of energy without putting in that energy yourself. Modern society is increasingly the product of theft. Economics as a “science” is, in fact, the art of theft maximization. It focuses on securing the outputs for yourself, while ignoring the inputs.
It is not the focus on profit that it is bad, this focus is de facto at the expense of the community. And yet, we have no culture left to defend it. Why? “Culture” is a bit esoteric by nature. Economics can be called a science, even if it is a pitiful science, because it reduces things to a mathematical system. If you assume each individual wants to maximize his or her individual pleasure, and that money is a proxy for pleasure maximization, you can create a limited system that you can apply formulas to and that “works.”
However, the logical consequence of that same system is that if anyone could simply generate money out of “thin air,” then they should. These days, it seems that everyone is trying just this. You have governments printing money for big banks, little startups printing money for themselves, and activists trying to get the government to print more money for the 99%.
But that’s ignoring the root of the problem, a society that places economics instead of culture at the center. A complex system is a bit like an orchestra. There’s room for a conductor (i.e. the government), but instruments themselves are tuned and played not because of the orchestra’s.
You could say that the energy input is a lot like the notes that are on the paper in front of the individual musicians. Humans are responsive to the energy, which comes in many forms through many channels. It’s their hands that turn it into complex and increasingly valuable forms.
That’s why we need a culture focused on energy.
Sunrise bowers on the sunny shore,
Welcome banquet to those gone before.
Tide of coming, comes to tide gone out.
A painful echo, time of no redoubt.
A maiming shadow, an echo of the fall,
A piercing dagger, stabbing at the wall.
Stoney heart is broken, biting at the pain,
Walking shadows woken, making death their gain.
The death that I seek is yours, my shadow self.
Your life that I wish, I know nothing else.
Heart to heart can echo, knowing not the tune.
Mine alone is broken, knowing only gloom.
Dagger in my hand, dagger in my heart.
Without you I am nothing, knight without a hart.