Is Money Black Magic?










Video and Narration: Alan Cox 

Is Money Black Magic?

A street hoarding asks,
(it’s a huge bank ad).
In spray-paint below
Is written, “No, mate, it works
For you fucking sods.”

 Is money black magic?
“Behavioral Economics’
Suggests that it is.
Their experiments
Show that one glimpse of money
Can cast evil spells.

In an experiment,
A screen-saver is set up
Showing dollar bills.
On seeing banknotes,
Floating hypnotically
Across some water.

The subjects are primed:
They behave more selfishly:
It’s subliminal,
It’s like black magic:
They’ve only to see money
To become selfish.

In the experiment’s
Next stage someone walks past them.
Spilling some pencils.
Those who saw the screen
With all the dollar bills on
Are slower to help.

They’re more reluctant
To pick up any pencils.
They pick up fewer
Than those who’ve not seen it –
Not seen pictures of money.
‘Pick them up yourself!’ –

They’re tempted to think.
Their unconscious reaction is,
‘I’ve seen some money!
I’m close to success!
I’m a potential millionaire!
I’m not spending time

Helping idiots!
Why should I co-operate?
I’m too important!’ –
Whereas others
Are free from this inhibition
And pick up pencils:

The unexposed ones
Are effortlessly helpful
Expecting no thanks,
Which is healthier –
People doing things without
Expecting reward.

If just seeing cash
Can freeze the instinct to help,
Then money is mad;
It’s psychotic black magic,
Which it’s sick to want.

It seems rich people
Lie and cheat more than others,
A survey reveals.
Which shows there’s a curse
Which takes its toll on the rich,
Changing their nature.

But if they should want
To have this foul curse lifted
The poor can help them.

Heathcote Williams

Pic: Elena Caldera


By Heathcote Williams

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