of my college tuition at Harvard College was paid from a scholarship
dedicated to helping "poor but deserving boys" achieve the summum
bonum of being a Harvard alumnus.
Part of the deal with the
scholarship was that I had to compose a letter of thanks each year to
the fund's managers thanking them for their support and giving a brief
but pungent update of what I'd been doing. I don't recall the text of
anything I wrote, but I do remember the brief but pungent humiliation
of having to abase myself for the sake of money. I was thankful and
resentful all in the same moment.
This is a feeling about money that I have never lost.
I did manage to make it through
Harvard and several other schools, but I've never been able to shed
the dislike of having to work for a living, of being at the mercy of
money. I don't mind working hard—working hard is the only way to
get to know the world and transform it through the body—but
always being a slave to a wage, to be "poor but deserving," is
Now, I'll be the first to admit
that I don't have an entrepreneurial bone in my body and have never
been able to pull together gigs, side hustles and so on to supplement
what I earn in my salary. I just don't seem to have the talent or
ingenuity to do this, so in a sense I have only myself to blame for my
And blame myself I do, often,
turning myself into a miser who can't see money as a means to an end
(pleasure, safety, compassion) but only as an end itself, the end
being the ability to discard the feeling of being at the mercy. I
don't want to be rich in the usual sense; what I want is enough money
as a cushion again the vile buffets of the world so that I don't have
to think about it. I want enough money to be amnesiac about money.
It's the thinking about it all
the time that is most wearing on me: constricting me, pinch-mouthing
me, turning me sober and calculating and killjoying and wetblanketing
everything. I hate myself for it and can't seem to get out of my own
I am such a bad capitalist. The
threat of, the feeling of, poverty does not spur me to change my state
or innovate my fate—I want a different system, with different
incentives and obligations, "from each…"
I had always planned to die broke. I just hate being broke along the way.