He's...he's counting your money! THAT'S WHAT HE'S COUNTING! BLOODSUCKER! EAT HIM! EAAAAAT HIM!
Harker evidently meant to try the matter, for he had ready his great Kukri knife and made a fierce and sudden cut at him. The blow was a powerful one. Only the diabolical quickness of the Count's leap back saved him. A second less and the trenchant blade had shorn through his coat, making a wide gap whence a bundle of bank notes and a stream of gold fell out.
Dracula, as we all know, bleeds cash. Or he sort of does, anyway. More likely, he just happens to have a lot of cash stored away in his coat, and the "stream" of gold is just a poorly chosen word. But it's enough to have caused some academic discussion about the Count's true symbolic nature, perhaps because it seems a little strange that a murderous hypnotic beast with the power to wipe out entire ships and control lesser mortals should carry his money around on him. That under-recognised scene fascinates me, because the idea that the Count is a capitalist metaphor really muddles the idea that he's an STD metaphor - so, uh, Dracula drinks the blood of young women in order to get to the men, and then converts the blood into money through a system of uh, digestion...anyway, it's all a little illogical.
But it also reminds us of the fact that literature has almost never been in love with capitalism. In one corner, we have figures as diverse as Barabbas to Herbert Pocket, with his vague philosophy of the free market economy as one in which you "look about you...you see your opening. And you go in, and you swoop upon it, and you make your capital, and there you are!" Less comical are the 'cannibals' in Lu Xun's early 20th century short story, 'A Diary of A Madman', in which the titular narrator believes wrongly (and rightly) that cannibalism is an accepted part of society that every single human being participates in. More recently we've had the unpleasant Masters of the Universe and Patrick Bateman, that latter-day materialistic demon. And after the fumbling wannabes and the fiendish figureheads come the merely greedy and selfish, who are legion. Gone are the days of the hero acquiring a great treasure as part of his happy ending. And who do we have on the other side? Ayn Rand.
It's a curious situation, because much as we'd all like to deny it, latter-day literary publishing is as capitalist as it gets; the selling of the unreal as something important. Writing, which truly believes in its own importance but also in the importance of its being spread freely, dislikes the taste of being sold. (Obviously I'm not talking about the book that's written with a 'target market' in mind, as well as sold with one. This is an appalling book, and that woman who wrote the novel about teenage angels romancing each other should be ashamed of yourself) I will always remember reading, many, many moons ago when I was back in school, romantic novelist Michael Legat's The Nuts and Bolts of Writing, in which he hit upon the love-hate relationship an author has with libraries. As lovers of literature, we adore books. As thoughtful and fair-minded people, as well as readers who'd always like to get something for nothing, we adore the idea of a vault of free books. But as business-people - or business-property, perhaps - every book of ours that's in a library is another one that makes us almost nothing. Not a big deal to one of the titans (they can just shrug), but to a struggling author trying to shift a few hundred copies...it's a bit of a blow.
This is, of course, not to say anything against libraries. It's an issue with writers, and how we have to deal with the paradox of our own place in a capitalist society. The truly big-shots can get away with handing out free stories or even free e-books as a sort of meaninglessly charitable gesture towards their fans who've already bought their unreal texts for 'real' currency. It's very nice, in the sense that they don't have to do that. In the sense that, sure, Bill Gates and his wife don't have to give away their money. But they can afford to. And, at the same time, putting your work out there for free as a first-time novelist can (sadly) imply that you're desperate and not very good rather than an artistic rebel who refuses to play by the system's dictats. Because there is (again, sadly) too much writing out there, and too little of it has unreal worth.
And, I guess, you could always set up a site where you try to publish e-chapbooks from awesome writers and add enough daily blatherings of your own that weary Internet travellers might actually head in your direction. But there's a corollary to Nietszche's statement that "where three men gather, a fourth must die," and it goes - "where three men gather, they'll form a corporation, dominate the market, and the fourth will go unemployed." Let's gaze down our spectacles at McSweeney's here, and the statement Dave Egger's now best-selling, industry-award-winning, 'Oh, look, aren't we outsiders'-insiders publishing house makes about itself,
McSweeney’s began in 1998 as a literary journal, edited by Dave Eggers, that published only works rejected by other magazines. But after the first issue, the journal began to publish pieces primarily written with McSweeney’s in mind. Since then, McSweeney’s has attracted works from some of the finest writers in the country, including blah big impressive names...
That is perhaps the strangest example of a company admitting very proudly to having abandoned their original vision and gone full commercial-savvy that I've ever read. But let me allay your fears - here at Silkworms, we're entirely immune to the paradoxical tug of capitalism; we can remain outsiders as publishers, as well as writers. For one thing, we're not big or well-known or important or swimming in yes-men/cocaine/groupies enough to truly sell out. What we do need to do for the future of this site is figure out a way to survive...without profiting too much.
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P.S. It occurred to me while writing this article that the only thing the vast majority of the Coen Brothers' films, so apparently, self-consciously disparate, have in common, is the following: a theft or attempted theft which becomes irrelevant or forgotten by the end of the movie - usually because the characters' greed has led them to their own destruction. They're anti-materialist fables. True Grit made $110 million at the box office.
P.P.S. I believe it was on the pilot episode of poetry editor Phil Brown's favourite new show, 10 O'Clock Live, that comedian Jimmy Carr made an interesting slip - as the other hosts took lazy swipes at bankers, he said that 'all they (the wide variety of organisations whose unwise decisions and personal greed led, in a large part, to the financial crisis of recent years) were doing was what everyone does - trying to make as much money as possible.' I don't think that's quite true, or fair on 'everyone'. But do we live in a society that has encouraged this attitude in all of us extremely heavily for a long time now, and which even now has only turned against that vague group known as 'bankers'? Do we need to make a stand against greed as a whole, rather than just against greed that specifically makes us poorer? Yup, sure, certainly, oui, Premiership footballers, of course.