What Does Currency Represent?

We initially think of currency as representative, as a signifier to something. But when we try to think of this something, we can’t find anything, it appears to be a signifier to nothing, a representation of nothing.

More precisely, it represents nothing actual. Currency attempt to represent potentia itself. If I have a hundred dollars, I have the potential of issuing a demand for that amount’s worth of whatever I want. In this sense, currency attempts to represent what can only be actual in time future.

There’s a difficulty though as accumulation, or concentration, of currency occurs. I can easily issue a demand for a hundred dollar’s worth of anything available either locally or virtually. If I have a hundred trillion dollars though, I can’t. Only a small percentage of the total amount of currency can be actualized at any given time, because with potential, any actualization destroys other potentials. Issuing more currency doesn’t inherently devalue it, what devalues it is any attempt overall to actualize more than the percentage that can be actualized at that time. Accumulation has a basic problem in that nothing can be accumulated in time future. The closest to accumulation that can occur is in time past. And even that can be accumulated only as personal and societal memory.

The metaphysics of presence is necessary to maintain the illusion of accumulation itself in terms of potential. If things do not simply endure from the past, as that metaphysics posits, but recur from the future as self-same, then we have inverted the provenance of what presences from the future to the past. Simultaneously we have inverted the possibility of accumulation of what has presenced from the past to the future, as substantialized potentia, as currency.


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