Psychological Poverty Of Wealth (Bragging As Begging)

If corporations are “people”, this Durer’s woman from the beginning of 16th century is the psychological essence of global corporations in 21st century.

Albrecht Durer, “Old Woman with a Bag of Coins (Greed)”, 1507
Albrecht Durer, “Old Woman with a Bag of Coins (Greed)”, 1507

It is through the ambiguity of the facial expression of the owner of the bag of coins that we can read the ambiguity of her interest in life – collecting/storing wealth. The bag of coins is this woman’s baby. She, as if, whole her life were feeding it (and is still quite vital in this function), like today’s multi-billionaires, probably, mix their sperm with their profits to help their multiplication. Durer approaches the topic of money through the psychology of its possessor. He analyzes what money is in a psychological, not money-logical perspective like today a legion of financial specialists (in moneypulation). His task is to understand better what money is for the human mind, soul and life.

The Relationships between human being and money in a certain degree follow the Hegelian dialectics of master and slave. Money was a slave who has become the triumphant master of human being, who fascinates and outsmarts humans, transforming them into his admirers and happy slaves. The fight to death for domination between master and slave is reflected in coin-woman’s facial expression. From the first glance on the painting we see that an “old woman” is bragging in front of us that she has so much money. But step by step we discern behind what we took as a triumphant smile some another, rather pitiful expression, as if she is begging us about something which is very important for her. What can it be that she, the owner of gold of geld and geld of gold can need from us? Yes, she is begging as a beggar in the same moment she is bragging. Today, in US of 21st century when we observe the behavior of the clerks and clicks of globalist economy (those who fire the American workers to save money on foreign labor and put Americans into swamp of austerity) and financial moneypulation (like making profit on bad loans, become bankrupt as a result and yet take bailout money from the hard working Americans only to enlarge their profits), it’s not too difficult to grasp what the golden woman wants from us.

She wants us to give her more money, to give her more opportunity to transform it into more golden coins. This woman with bag full of gold that she shows us as if her bag were empty as a beggar’s, is Durer’s time personification of today’s Pet Crimeney or Crowney, Lord Bankfein or Cock-Kick brothers. This kind of people at first make money on governmental subsidies, tax shelters, tax havens (heavens), etc. (on American taxpayers), and then, when they harm the financial or the economic system by their anti-professional behavior – on being bailed-out or helped again by the same taxpayers. Today’s versions of Durer’s old hag with coins are proud of becoming rich on taxpayers’ money. Their style of begging is… demanding… more and more from those who have to work two, three jobs, from the unemployed, poor, from elderly, from children by taking away their education, school lunch programs and houses of their parents, from the sick.

Today’s personifications of Durer’s nurse of coins think that they are very smart, like the Soviet Communists thought, those self-appointed bosses over the exhaustedly working Russian population. They lived in luxury on the Russian taxpayers, like today’s globalism-pushers and hedge-funds pullers – on Americans and Europeans.

What title can our epoch offer to Durer’s painting as a sign of recognition of its relevance for the 21st century? – Muse of Wall Street? – Muse of Hedge Funds? – The Muse of Globalization of Economy? – The mother of fossil fuel? Or, may be, the Madam of high-tech financial or entrepreneurial calculation? – Or, why not – Emancipation of Women into Profit-making? And even – Holy Virgin of financial religion?

Albrecht Dürer, ‘Self Portrait’, 1498
Albrecht Dürer, ‘Self Portrait’, 1498

Durer, "self portrait as the Man of Sorrow", 1522
A. Durer, “Self Portrait as the Man of Sorrow”, 1522