Wealth

“We want to think about the art of money-making,” she said. She was sitting in the rear seat, his seat, the club chair, and he looked at her and waited. “The Greeks have a word for it.” He waited. “Chrimatistikos”, she said. “But we have to give the word a little leeway. Adapt it to the current situation. Because money has taken a turn. All wealth has become wealth for its own sake. There’s no other kind of enormous wealth. Money has lost its narrative quality the way painting did once upon a time. Money is talking to itself (…) And property follows of course. The concept of property is changing by the day, by the hour. The enormous expenditures that people make for land and houses and boats and planes. This has nothing to do with traditional self-assurances, okay. Property is no longer about power, personality and command. It’s not about vulgar display or tasteful display. Because it no longer has weight or shape. The only thing that matters is the price you pay. Yourself, Eric, think. What did you buy for your one hundred and four million dollars? Not dozens of rooms, incomparable views, private elevators. Not the rotating bedroom and computerized bed. Not the swimming pool or the shark. Was it air rights? The regulating sensors and software? Not the mirrors that tell you how you feel when you look at yourself in the morning. You paid the money for the number itself. One hundred and four million. This is what you bought. And it’s worth it. The number justifies itself”.

Don De Lillo

Cosmopolis

Published on Scribner, 2003