The meaning of money’: the ruble, the dollar and psychoanalysis (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)
Author: Viktor Mazin
In keeping with the psychoanalytical tradition, this essay is an interpretation of a dream, or rather a series of answers to questions posed in a dream about the meanings of money. The answers touch on the periods in which the author has lived. What was the attitude towards money in the Soviet Union? How did it change during perestroika? What happened with the advent of capitalism? To understand how the meaning of money has been transformed, the author turns to three literary works: Sergei Mikhalkov‚Äôs political fairy tale The Adventures of the Ruble (1971), in which a Soviet Ruble encounters an American Dollar; Nikolai Nosov‚Äôs book Neznaika on the Moon (1965), whose hero flies from the communist Sun City to the capitalist Moon; and Viktor Pelevin‚Äôs novel Empire V (2006), which describes attitudes to money in the new capitalist Russia. The idea formulated during the course of this analysis is that there is money, and then there is money: money changes its meaning depending on the discursive construction in which it is inscribed. Money is a universal means of exchange, but there is no such thing as universal¬†money.