Why cunts sell shit to fools

Damien Hirst , 2004

‘Adam and Eve Towards the End’ (2004). Installation shot ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’, Tate Britain, 2004. Photographed by Stephen White © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012.

Here is a perfect example of a successful communication between consumer and manufacturer, although why am I left with a feeling that the letter actually went in the bin? It’s more than just because I’m a cynical cunt.

Forgive me if I wander from the subject or rant: it’s all part of the piece and it is by its very nature a wandering piece. Oh, and if you could hang on in there and read beyond the wearing and bad grammar and punctuation...

So money is a tool. It works like a key, and you run into problems when the tool is over-worshipped. It’s lower function can be forgotten (opening the fucking door). You wouldn’t keep a screwdriver in your pocket so long that you forgot its function but I know plenty of people who do that with money. ‘No sit back down, no, no, no, I’ll get these. Put your wallet away, you get the next one. Come on love I’ve already done it – it’s not about money.’ So it’s not about money? That’s a good one! We’ve established that much. Discount? Don’t talk to me about discounts, I’m just NOT FUCKING BUYING IT AND THAT’S THAT! Money’s the key and without money, the cunts wouldn’t be able to sell shit to us fools but do you know what? They fucking would. They’re such cunts that they would find a way.

I’ve always said that art is about life and the art world is about money although the buyers and sellers, the movers and shakers, the money men will tell you anything to not have you realise that their real motivation is cash, because if you realise – that they would sell your granny to Nigerian sex slave traders for fifty pence (ten bob) and a packet of woodbines – then you’re not gonna believe the other shit coming out their mouths that’s trying to get you to buy the garish shit they’ve got hanging on the wall in their posh shops.

Anyway, the bullshit is in any business, all businesses. I mean, what’s the difference between an art dealer and art; a car dealer and cars; a drug dealer and drugs; a politician and politics? The four are the same fucking things and the list don’t end there. Most of the time they are all selling shit to fools and it’s getting worse. They may tell us that what we are buying into is not ‘transport but transportation’ but we’re beginning to realise that it’s just not getting us from A. to B. any more and we’re doing nothing as usual except fucking moanin’. I suppose if we accept that the cunts rule the world, then we’ve got to take the collapse of quality in the time of the cunts as a given, and also we need to discover the reasons for the rise of the cunt (because someone took their eye off the ball, mentioning no names but ‘av a look in the mirror). In the music industry it’s probably more noticeable than in other creative industries. The main reason for this is that people in the business who have the most control are the furthest away from creativity (how dumb). A friend of mine in a well known band was even asked to sign a contract that said he wasn’t allowed to change style! Can you imagine the Beatles signing a contract like that in 1961 (I guess that’s about where we are now musically). ‘Special offer! I’ll give you a special offer – suck my cock, yeah, yeah, yeah, special offer everything must go! Closing down sale now on! Fuck off now and you won’t get punched! – yeah, there’s a special offer in my underpants – all you can eat for £2.99.’

I remember a joke when I was at school. Two kids are playing shops and using leaves as money and one kid says to the other ‘how much for that flower’ and the other kid says ’50 leaves’ and the first kid says ‘do you think money grow on trees!’ It’s a bit like the one about the two art dealers in bed gently touching each other and gazing longingly into each others eyes and one says to the other urgently, ‘turn over’ and the other says, ‘about 12.8 million last year, how about yourself?’ (And you say it’s not about money).

The origins of money – exchange and swapping. Two farmers, one with a field of wheat, the other with sheep in his field: they will always find a way to end up taking cold lamb sandwiches to work on a Monday morning. It’s the way the universe works. Bartering came before money, then I guess it was only a matter of time before in walked some cunt. I can’t believe it was that simple. This cunt starts throwing the idea of money around to fill in that gap between the lambs being slaughtered and the wheat being ground into flour. You get the drift, yeah that’s right, being able to buy things out of season, something with value that you can save without the inconvenience of scraping pounds of rotting lamb out of your pockets on a Friday night, something small and convenient that won’t perish, and bosh, we’ve got a banker and then a bank, and then several banks and insurance and loans and it seems like a good idea at first – but it’s happened. Now the value of our goods has been handed over to a third party. Of course they’ve got our best interests at heart’ but as always happens with money (oops), I mean money, greed sets in and possession is nine tenths of the law they (the cunts) say. And guess wot? They’ve got our monet, even worse, we gave them our money! So when it’s been in their pocket for a while, whose money is it? Is it still more ours than theirs? Sometimes I fucking hate money. This never happened with cave painting. Look you make it, I sell it, don’t tread on my toes. It’s your own fault, so don’t be a fool and stop buying shit from these cunts!

The Holy Trinity, the Three Stooges, cars, refrigerators, light-bulbs: all designed apparently to fuck up. And you can add CD’s to the list, do I remember being sold the idea of CD’s being indestructible? Yes I think I do. I remember seeing a guy on TV telling me that you could drill a 5mm hole through a CD and it would still work! What bullshit the cunts fed us, but we ate it, we deserve the blame wholeheartedly.

Or as Dino Felluga says, ‘Exchange-value: according to Karl Marx, the entrance into capitalist culture meant that we ceased to think of purchased goods in terms of use-value, in terms of the real uses to which an item will be put. Instead, everything began to be translated into how much it is worth, into what it can be exchanged for (its exchange value). Once money became a “universal equivalent”, against which everything in our lives is measured, things lost their material reality (real-world uses, the sweat and tears of the labourer). We began even to think of our own lives in terms of money rather than in terms of the real things we hold in our hands: how much is my time worth? How does my conspicuous consumption define me as a person? As the things we use are increasingly the product of complex industrial processes, we lose touch with the underlying reality of the goods we consume. A common example of this is the fact that most consumers do not know how the products they consume are related to real life things. How many people could identify the actual plant from which is derived the coffee bean? Starbucks, by contrast, increasingly defines our urban realities.’ Conceptual point – re Karl Marx value and functionality: the interesting thing about art and its value is that it is precisely because art has no physical function that causes its value to be so suspected, so speculative. This drives people crazy – who sets the value, where did the value come from, why can I not see the direct correlation between function and price, it is all a Machiavellian plot by some shady art dealer... and so on.

Yeah cars, what a tragic, sad, fucking horrific, wasteful, money-grabbing, planet-destroying piece of corporate shit we’ve bought into there (actually, I am not arrogant enough to believe that the human race has, will have, or ever has had, the power to destroy the planet, although my girlfriend Maia probably would rightly want to question that. My arrogance that is). I’m putting in another fuckin quote now. It relates somehow to the subject and I could wait all day for a nice place to put it for you but I’m gonna use it now, to relieve the monotony of my relentless psycho-babble in my search for truth. You can work out how to work it into the subject, it’s about time you did something anyway, got off your arse! It’s sitting on your arse that got us in this situation in the first place.

‘The easiest way to attract a crowd’, Houdini wrote, ‘is to let it be known that at a given time and a given place someone is going to attempt something that in the event of failure will mean sudden death.’ Myths are often about the inescapable, about the painful discovery of powerful constraints. They don’t tend to be stories about people who get away with things, but rather stories about people who try to; people whose transgressions turn out to be a lesson for us all. Oedipus, Prometheus, Narcissus and Antigone all, in their different ways, suffer the most violent of all sentimental educations. That there must be some things that no creature can elude – whether they be laws (natural or moral), desires (variously deemed moral or immoral), or biological limits (the need to breathe, eat and die) – and that they must be discovered, recognised and observed are integral to our sense of ourselves, and the ways in which we question who we are. When a constraint can be described as something else – when the earth becomes round so we can’t fall off it, when the notion of sin is seen as a devious form of social control, and so on – we change our place in the world. When a constraint can be re-described it can make the world, the way things are despite our intentions seem more robust, more solid. Quote sources? From a book on Houdini. I’ll find it soon! It’s like the rise of Ginsters and other purveyors of shit food – how did that happen? How did we let it happen? (Their new ads in service station feature the bare-faced lie, ‘Real Honest Food’). You’re wedged up and yer looking good and looking for a good buy? You wanna SPEND SPEND SPEND!? I’ll give you a good-bye, fuck off an’ wash yer ears, get down the nearest art school and buy with your eyes, not your ears.

Or, a little bit of advice – if you want to ‘buy for investment’, don’t bother! Buy gold, but even that’s dodgy. Buy plutonium or genes, they tell me that’s where the big money of tomorrow is today. Or nuclear waste, don’t they call it re-processing now? Yeah! Shit and mess on a big scale. Anything like that is probably a good investment. Better than diamonds or gold or even cash. Money under the bed’s no good anymore. It’s not safe and they keep re-designing it. Is it getting smaller or is it me? Buying something because you like it is the best investment anyone can make.

So where the fuck are we now? I’ll explain the story so far for the slow to catch on:

The reason why cunts sell shit to fools is two-fold, with a third point – three elements – cunts, shit and fools. (1.) Because the fools behave like they are supposed to – like fools!

(2.) Because of (1.) then the cunts come out of the woodwork and make a killing!

But that’s not the whole of the story, this scenario – points (1.) and (2.) work together as a force (3.). Which in turn creates a decline in quality, this is the ‘shit’ in ‘why cunts sell shit to fools’.

Hopefully that will wrap the whole thing up even for the hard of hearing and the infirm amongst you. It’s your own fault, you’re buying it. Stop buying it and they’ll stop sellin’ it. They might be the cunts but they’re into money! And if this rant feels too true, too close for comfort, and the irony don’t float your boat, and you’re the kind of person that needs hope, all I know is this: there are no pockets in a shroud!

The tragedy of the world is that the good can’t be bothered and the bad can.


This essay was first published in the Idler magazine. It was then republished in Gregor Muir and Damien Hirst, Angus Fairhurst, Sarah Lucas, 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' (Tate Publishing, 2004).