EXCHANGE VALUE

On the annual flea market in Montmorillon I bought a black, cast-iron pot with a bow-handle, also with a large rift in its metal. A rather impressive piece of equipment once used to cook in for a large family.

 

 

In it I re-planted one of my helianthus. Or is it perhaps to become a sunflower? A riddle, certainly, one caused by a seller in a supermarket who perhaps also could not see the difference between an ass and a horse. Anyway, the two of them shooting up together were too much for the large earthenware pot in which they were planted. Not enough root space for both. Crowd control required.

At first, everything went wrong. After watering the plant in its new metal pot, the soil remained soaked for a long time, like after a heavy rainstorm, with water running over the edge.

Alarm! Cautiously, together with the pot, I laid down the plant horizontally on the courtyard, like a dead man. Once removed from its new home, the earth dripped away from the roots. With a new steel drill bought for this purpose I made seven holes in its incredibly tough base – in my mind’s eye the holy number of the Apocalypse. Cast iron is not made for drilling… And don’t ask me why the number 7 is holy. Precisely because there is no answer to this, one drills 7 holes in a cast iron pot.

 

Now they are in good shape, my two helianthus, or perhaps sunflowers – the one in its vulgar pot of red ceramics with its normal solitary hole baked in, the other one in its black Pantzer, for ever safe and assured of running water thanks to The Magnificent 7.

And how precious this pot/pan must have been for its owners and users, its exchange value certainly equal to a modern day pressure cooker. After it was broken, a blacksmith patched it up. In order that the pot could be used again, he carefully repaired the crack with a slab of steel, a wound covered with a plaster that is fixed with a series of thick rivets.

 

And a mere 5 Euros is what I paid for it – its exchange value today. Obviously its use value was scrupulously reduced, thanks to the holes in the bottom. What remains is its aesthetic value; especially the repair patch looks very decorative. With the flower planted in it, what a beauty! But then, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as ever. And I will never sell it again.

Good old Marx! All that is solid melts into air. His summary of the destructive pressure that a rampant capitalism puts on everything and everybody.

Sierksma, 26.8 / 2015 La Roche
Also visit Sierksma’s Sores (in Dutch): sierksma.wordpress.com

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Author: rjsiersk

contact: rjsiersk@xs4all.nl Sierksma was born in Friesland, a 'county' in the northern part of the Netherlands with its own language which he does not speak and with an obstinate population to which he both belongs and does not belong. A retired Professor of Social Philosophy and Aesthetics, as a Harkness fellow he taught at Rutgers and Berkeley Universities in the USA, and at GUAmsterdam and TUDelft in the Netherlands. In 1991 he was awarded his PhD from Leiden University on the subject of 'Surveillance and Task: Labour Discipline between Utilitarianism and Pragmatism'. His books include Minima Memoria (1993), Lost View (2002 with Jan van Geest), and Litter Scent (2013). He has published poems and articles in Te Elfder Ure, Nynade, Oasis and the Architectural Annual. Half the year he lives in Haarlem, the other half he spends in la France Profonde, living ‘in his own words’ as the house out there was bought with the winnings from his essay Eternal Sin, written for the ECI Essay Prize (1993). In this blog, Sierksma's Sequences, written in English, he is peeping round his own and other people’s perspectives. Not easily satisfied with answers nor with questions, he turns his wry wit to a number of philosophical and historical issues. His aim in writing: to make parts of the world light up in his perspective - not my will, thine! Not being a thief, he has no cook, one wife, some children, one lover and three cats. He would not ind being a cat.

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