The Perils of Ignoring Syphilis

by Paddy Johnson on June 21, 2010 Newswire

A bit of dialogue from Melanie Gilligan’s 2008 online film sequence Crisis in the Credit System.

One ritual amongst investors was to visit Lady Luck, a renowned prostitute…at the height of the boom thousands were seeing her. Lady Luck could make a man see the future, spend the night with her and you’d be charmed. If you lost big they said you hadn’t been to see Lady Luck enough.  She was obsessed by gambling and chance. She found luck and fate a turn on. Then at the height of her popularity she revealed she had syphilis and that she was going insane from it. The next morning saw a frenzy of selling. That’s the real story behind the Great Depression. The one thing an investor doesn’t want to know is how connected everything is.

Putting aside the obvious folly in a story that pins a woman’s use of her body to the greatest economic distaster in the history of the United States, the point that willed ignorance has a limited life, isn’t a bad one. The piece reminds me of the art market’s continued privileging of the unique, a valuation characteristic I suspect will crumble further with the ease of digital reproduction. But that’s another debate.

Hat tip: Frieze Magazine.

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