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“These Vampyres are said to torment and kill the living by sucking out all of their blood, and a ravenous Minister, in this part of the world, is compared to a Leech or Bloodsucker, and carries his Oppressions beyond the Grave, by anticipating the publick Revenues, and entailing a Perpetuity of Taxes, which must gradually drain the Body Polotick of its Blood and Spirits…”

(‘Political Vampyres’, Gentleman’s Magazine, May 1732)


We should have heeded Juno’s warning. Her title, Moneta, foretold doom.

Do not rejoice prematurely – public welfare will always be a by-product to these creatures of the night. Feudalism may have been outlawed, but we are not yet Robinson Crusoes in Caledonia.

We continue to place our shadowy faith in the sovereign stamp of authority, but the bearer has been left wanting. The invisible hand of self- interest tap-tap-taps away at the ledger, trying in vain to measure the compendium of capitalism against Three Standard Stoppages. Justine Lafayette’s account book shows a profit of only a few French curves, those anamorphic dollar and pounds, not enough to satiate the limitless lust for surplus value.

The universal language, the great colonizer, the god of our times. robbed of even the gossamer physicality of banknotes, this desire incarnate is our very lifeblood and our shit. Because there is no limit to human desire, this sinister shape-shifter is forever destined to be parasitical, dependent, thirsty.

The aching obsolescence of the banknotes of Theresienstadt recall the true function of this ‘abstraction of human happiness’. Now so abstract as to be opaque, this intangible succession of electronic impulses siphoned and recirculated via uniform signs – the total sum of our net worth.

Game and reward, illness and palliative, we fall victim to vampiric usrers, transmitting venereal gold fever to all they prey upon, calling the vulnerable to them in metallic whispers. It is they who have transformed our cowrie shell currency into third order simulacra – where capital is a substitute for life, a definition of identity, measurable against time. A stake through the heart of use-value leaves only exchange value writhing in its wake.

“The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is interest, for it makes a gain out of money itself, and not from that which money was devised. For money came into being for the sake of exchange, but interest makes the money itself greater. And that is the reason why the term ‘interest’ [tokos], which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. That is why it is the most unnatural way of enriching yourself.”


(Aristotle, Politics)

Carlylean longings – for a social interaction unmediated by money – may seem naïve, and naïve they are, but Marxian poverty was once seen as Christ-like, Brummell’s destitute demise the ultimate triumph of dandyism over mediocrity. To Brummell, Baudelaire, Burroughs and all our greatest heroes, money and credit are indistinguishable. Surely, it is the man with the passion for venal dueling, all tattered silk charisma and heady Romance, who captures hearts, kicking dust and disdain into the  furrowed faces of Enlightenment scriveners, dryly guarding their guilded vaults.

When the Baobhan-sith appears, she is resplendent in green, swooping low over Burke and Hare, Wringhim and Calvert, Jekyll and Hyde. This Scottish succubus sees all and she alone reads the phantom balances of the City of Glasgow bank., her ghostly laughter echoing from Virginia Street to the colonies.

The Rat Man was right all along and the analyst’s notes are transcribed not by typewriter but by adding machine, with the spectral rolls reading only 62, 62, 62…

“Only the diabolical quickness of the Count’s leap back saved him. A second less and the trenchant blade had shorn through his heart. As it was, the point just cut the cloth of his coat, making a wide gap whence a bundle of bank notes and a stream od gold fell out… grasping a handful of the money from the floor, he dashed across the room and threw himself at the window. Amid the crash and glitter of the falling glass, he tumbled into the flagged area below. Through the sound of shivering glass, I could hear the ‘ting’ of the gold, as some of the sovereigns fell on the flagging.”


(Bram Stoker, Dracula)


Essay by Dr.Susannah Thompson commissioned for the exhibition BEARER ON DEMAND and HYPERINFLATION.

© 2005 Susannah Thompson.




Synopsis of a danse macabre and song

(‘Two-faced Aria of the Pat Coordinator’)


The stage is full of low –lives at the death of the day. The DERELICT with smears for eyes dallies a paltry toy, under the ragged curve of a battered arcade a small transparent sphere with luminous plastic bricks inside, one red, one blue, one black, one yellow and translucent. The bricks are tiny and scarcely enough in number to satisfy the municipal intrigues of a mite.  Still great is the fascination of the DERELICT with no eyes and no mouth (but only dusty smears where the sensory apertures should be) to crack the glass chamber like an egg, remove its contents bit by bit, dissemble paltry abortive structures and return them to the sphere and close it again, shake it so that the coloured bits dance about like confetti or the last vestige of snow in the baubles of sentimental dying magnets.

The HOMOGENS appear at the right, accompanied by the PAT COORDINATOR. Their designer’s sheaves unrolled show lumpish forms made of coloured blocks, just like those of the DERELICT.

PAT COORDINATOR (scrutinising the plans):


                       The more the city fascinates
                       The more it oppresses
                       The rage I feel towards this city
                       In all its modernity
                       Which I can only admire
                       Still fills me with jealousy


HOMOGENS (in chorus):  Jealousy! Jealousy!

PAT COORDINATOR:       This city of the elect and privileged
                       Of wielders of power and decision makers


HOMOGENS (in chorus):  Decision makers! Decision makers!

PAT COORDINATOR:       This city, this monster,
                       Creator of tramps and parasites in a day!


HOMOGENS (in chorus):  A day! A day!

Cut to: the whimpering lament of the DERELICT who has lost his bauble down one of the drains. He crouches over futilely poking his fingers through the slots.

DERELICT:              The more I suppress
                       This overwhelming rage
                       The more I admire
                       This city so charming, merciless, dreamlike, paradisal!

The stage darkens and the pavement with the grill of the drain tilts up. The bars come apart exposing the murky gloom beyond. The lost charm of the DERELICT lights up incandescently and the brightly coloured chips swirl about on churned-up currents of air. More complex shapes appear, along with more varied colours and tones, and as the orb swells and takes possession of the stage, a troop of human dancers clad in jagged costumes of a futurist ballet, simulate a crowded casino. The PAT COORDINATOR sways in drunkenly, his cravat loosened below his battered hat. The patrons with their tubular bodies, their coats like Bauhaus tombstones, their goggle eyes half superimposed on orange semi-circular masks look leeringly on.


This is consummate debauchery but all of an abstracted slickly patented manifestation, which cannot satisfy the PC for long: he searches desperately for a conspicuous body of flesh like his own. Reeling, he stumbles upon the CADAVER at roulette, who seems equally out of place, a death’s head strayed out of Lucas Cranach, come to view with a connoisseur’s prurience, the swollen follies of modernity gone mad. He has a strange manner of casting the roulette, preferring to swallow it first so it emerges glittering in the right socket as a surrogate eye, then tilting his head drops it on his skeletal hand:

CADAVER:              This city, this monster
                      Which implacably rises up and destroys
                      This city, this monster.
                      Creator of superstars and derelicts in a day!


More customers throng onto the casino and as the crowd jostles shoulder to shoulder, the figures lose all trace of human resemblance and distinctness, and turn into leaping and interlocking circles, tiny arrow shapes lurching between rapidly expanding and shrinking lines of yellow, green and mauve. The PAT COORDINATOR in his champagne paranoia fears death by drowning in his brimming constructivist soup. Narrowly detaching himself from the smothering throng, he grabs the body of a tombstone gambler nearby and batters the transparent confines of the crumbling hall. They swell and wobble; shards of glass fly about and the angular inmates rise up to the ceiling and disappear.

The PAT COORDINATOR shaking his addled head, looks down at the pavement under the arcade where the glass has rained down from a plundered shop-window during the night, and various ornamental trinkets are lying scattered in the debris: a brush with a mother of pearl handle, a filigreed cake knife, brass tongs with jet flowers on the hinge. These are not static but primevally mobile writhing, flopping about with the grotesque aspect of fish drowning in air.


THE DROWNING ANTIQUES (in throaty whispers):

                      The more the city fascinates
                      The more it oppresses
                      The rage I feel towards this city
                      In all its modernity
                      Which I can only admire
                      Still fills me with jealousy



                      Jealousy! Jealousy!





​Essay by Laurence Figgis commissioned for the exhibition PLASTIC CASINO.

© 2004 Laurence Figgis.



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