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“This is a little gem is informed by a big idea: that in our use of both water and money we can see both the best and the worst of what we call ‘wealth’. ‘Liquidity’ will flow through your mind like water trickles through your fingers.”
Jonathon Porritt, Forum for the Future.
This book, which I produced and co-authored with Steve Briault (he provided the excellent aphoristic text and I the illustrations) seeks to illumine some painful and beautiful truths about our natural and civil ecologies by relating money and water.
We are not the first to look at water and the moral ecologies and economics of how we treat it. The social photographer, Edward Burtynsky, is one of many who have been fascinated by the nature of water. In Walrus, in 2013, he commented on his moving series of images: "I wanted to understand water: what it is, and what it leaves behind when we're gone. I wanted to understand our use and misuse of it. I wanted to trace the evidence of global thirst and threatened sources."
Many others have sought to understand money. Alla Sheptun says: Money makes us both master and slave. Our power over money is real only inasmuch as we are able to understand its power over us." Its roots have been related to blood sacrifices, as in the Greek practice of animal sacrifice found in Homeric epics. If so, we have come a long way to Bitcoins. If you search for quotations on money you will find many related to happiness, and some to love, including the Beatles' famous line. And Abba's plaintive condemnation. ...working with gold in such huge quantities was unsettling. A gangster comments in the semi-autobiographical novel, Shantaram: "Gold fires the eyes with a different kind and colour of greed. Money’s almost always just a means to an end; but, for many men, gold is an end in itself, and their love for it is the kind of thing that can give love a bad name."
Liquidity takes a unique approach to such themes by comparing two apparently unrelated sets of phenomena – water in the natural environment, and money in the human economy – and showing how the same archetypal patterns manifest in both realms.
The world has witnessed the ravages of unconstrained abuse of both water and money. Out of concern at this painful reality, Liquidity: Flowing Forms in Water and Money offers fascinating and inspiring insights into pathology and potential healing in the natural and the social ecology. Building on this, we describe how the current crises, in the capitalist economy on the one hand, and the global environment on the other, show comparable symptoms – debt and drought – and how they both require comparable new thinking to address and potentially heal them.
Steve’s text does not simply offer metaphors or comparisons. I think it reflects paradigmatic realities: actual likeness of forms. As a result it offers a set of meditational principles. If you dwell on the ideas as you might a wisdom text, they lead to new ways of seeing the world. It is a scientia that shapes who fills themselves with its fecund ideas.
In my images I tend to offer relatively natural images of water, some illustrated below, drawn from photographs on five continents. In addition to the ones in the book, others are illustrated on this site. For the accompanying money images, I have created collages and artworks, such as the dancers circulating on ten rupees. In my portfolio I offer other images of water and social and natural ecology.
Click image for slideshow
Liquidity shows how water in the natural environment and money in the human economy share the same archetypal patterns.
The world has witnessed the ravages of unconstrained abuse of both water and money. Out of concern at this painful reality, Liquidity: Flowing Forms in Water and Money offers fascinating and inspiring insights into pathology and potential healing in the natural and the social ecology.
Steve Briault’s aphoristic, provocative text is beautifully complemented by Angus Jenkinson’s striking and radiant images in this collaborative exploration.
“Idea, insight and image combine powerfully in this beautiful, yet challenging exploration of global patterns created by water and money; twin barometers of our relationship with the Earth, its resources and each other.”
John Grounds, Chair CharityComms, ex-director NSPCC and RSPCA
“This beguiling little book is a meditation on flow that opens one’s heart to a truer and freer relationship to money. “
Sebastian Parson, Founder, Elysia Commons, former chair, Biodynamic Agricultural Association
“This book conveys some crucial messages for mankind to address if we are to build a sustainable future; a world where all can flourish. Reflecting the deep presence of the co-creators, it does it with a simplicity, clarity and beauty that makes it a joy to feast on.”
Esther Ridsdale, Founder, Civil Society Forum.
Edward Burtynsky offers a related commentary on the way human beings are distressing water for economic gain, a kind of rape. He comments on his website:
“While trying to accommodate the growing needs of an expanding, and very thirsty civilization, we are reshaping the Earth in colossal ways. In this new and powerful role over the planet, we are also capable of engineering our own demise. We have to learn to think more long-term about the consequences of what we are doing, while we are doing it. My hope is that these pictures will stimulate a process of thinking about something essential to our survival; something we often take for granted—until it’s gone.”
And for an interesting experiment with water and sound, see this YouTube clip.