From another forum:i
Conor McGregor: Ireland, we are at war.ii
CEBK:iii In decadent times, a fine is a price; in chaotic times, a price is a fine. This is how monks & warlords created Medieval Ireland: by imposing an honor economy upon it, with enough power that order could emerge from it. Let’s say you don’t really have markets yet—no security, no liquidity, no depth, no experience, etc. Thus you want some trusted order-giver to define some basic prices to begin the process of trade. & in such a society you can run up tabs & trade promissory notes from each other. & so it doesn’t matter that the official coins & cases are too big for your petty trading to bother with. Your debts to each other are still about exchanging honors—even small ones like bees, honey, or beehives—not goods. But then our material wealth outgrew our status—& now rots.
Pete: That our material wealth has so massively outgrown our status is actually bullish for digital assets?iv On the Internet no one knows you’re a dog. So here it’s a lot easier to be a Punk… and pay all the tea in China for the priviledge.v It’s definitely a “cleaner” option than showing up to your girlfriend’s family house in a Rolls Royce Cullinan when you “should” be driving a 530i… at best.
TexasHedge:vi This is a great point that I have thought about but struggled to articulate. In the physical world, there are luxury goods that one can afford, but which it feels awkward or showy to display in certain settings (e.g., wearing a Nautilus to the office). For whatever reason, it feels less ostentatious to display (even far more valuable) digital Veblen goods.vii I wonder if the relative liquidity of digital assets has to do with it: it makes digital luxury good purchases look more like asset allocation decisions, and physical luxury goods look more like self-indulgent consumption purchases. Alternatively, perhaps online we are denuded of what our IRL friends think is fitting or appropriate for us, and there is more of a blank slate for social norms. Either way, it increases willingness to spend more on digital luxury goods vs physical luxury goods.
Pete: Wearing a Nautilus would definitely be considered “gauche” for most of the crypto-wealthy who moonlight here and daylight in junior, mid-level, or even entrepreneurial sales-side positions. It’s just not a good look to give a middle-finger to the hierarchy like that. IMO the reason for this is less the liquidity factor (good watches aren’t that illiquid) and more the blank slate factor where online/pseudonymously we don’t have to “tone it down” for the sake of parents, in-laws, schoolmates, peers, etc. who justifiably see extreme and disproportionate peacocking as unbecoming or rubbing their faces in (y)our good fortunes.viii It’s one thing to pick up the tab for dinner while letting your friends and family know that you’ve had a good year and want to celebrate with loved ones, it’s another to do so with head-to-toe logomania gucci drip with a Rainbow Daytona on each wrist, wearing sunglasses at night, with a baby white tiger on a leash beside your table while your plastic fantastic barbie gf doom-scrolls Pintrest next to you while chewing gum way too loudly.ix Thankfully there’s JPEGs to do all this signalling, personal enjoyment, and spiritual striving now.
TexasHedge: I agree that the blank slate factor is the biggest driver. Perhaps it’s equal parts the personal blank slate you describe, and a blank slate in the sense of a lack of reference points that set bounds for acceptable signaling in digital luxury goods. We all have enough data points to intuitively know when someone’s IRL signaling crosses the line from good taste to ostentation (somewhere between the Gucci slides and the white tiger, unless of course it is a rescue), but the line in digital goods is blurrier, if it exists at all at this stage. Even on my doxxed Instagram, I would feel more comfortable sporting a Punk PFP than posting a picture of myself in a comparably priced car or watch. Several friends have Punk PFPs on LinkedIn; none display a Nautilus in that forum. Maybe it is that digital luxury goods are nascent enough that there isn’t as well-defined a mapping across (i) personal social status, (ii) relative financial status vs peers, and (iii) what constitutes a tasteful degree of signaling. If that’s the case, maybe that mapping solidifies over time. It’s also possible that digital luxury goods feel more acceptable to flex because they signal positive values (decentralization, self-custody of digital bearer assets, freedom, etc.), and literacy for a frontier asset class, in a way that physical luxury goods do not.x
Pete: Punk signalling is also “OG” signalling, so it’s much more respectablexi (in good company) than an Ape or Pudgyxii or whatever. It’s like wearing a 1518xiii that your grandfather bequeathed you. Or a 3700xiv that your father gave you for graduating summa cum laude at MIT in ’06.
Not that the exact Patek reference matters! In fact, getting lost in such minutiae is a distracting effect that elides that actual underlying causes. Because no matter how you slice it, the maxim “check the chain” rings deeply and loudly true… in digital assets as in life. Finance and art are just extended metaphors for biology, after all! So it is that we sort and select today based on abstractions, ones all too related to the timeless principles of genetics understood far more explicitly by our wiser and all-too-pastoral forefathers, but which we’re powerless to resist the fundamental logic of nevertheless. So it is that “who was the seed investor?” and “what’s the provenance?” are as relevant today as “who is your daddy and what does he do?” ever was.xv
Y’see we have no choice but to create cultural castes and classes, if not in name than de facto, for the same reasons that the (pale-eyed fair-haired Indo-European-descended)xvi Brahmins, Cohanim, Pharaohs, and Cherokee did. This is how the best networks and strongest cultures prevail: emergent societies and returning remnants taking only too seriously the vision of a brighter tomorrow, one deeply rooted in history; tzimtzuming space for light to shine through the darkness.
So make way, ye pale-eyed forefathers, Punks dare to join you on the fields of Elysium.
- There are many fora in the digital age! ↩
- Facts. ↩
- Who is CEBK, you ask? Some kind of motherfucking mind-fucker that’s who. As far as I can tell he’s a 20-something of probable Jewish heritage living in DC who brandishes an intoxicatingly radicalised intellect (150+) the sort of which I haven’t encountered online since the Mircea Popescu and Stanislav Datskovskiy days of Bitcoin-centric IRC a decade-plus ago. Now I’m no slouch in the mental horsepower game (135-140) but I can assure you that in the same way a 6’2″ (95th percentile) man looks at a 6’6″ (99%) man as a GODDAM GIANT!!!1 so too does it work with matters of the mind. Maybe because it’s so rarely encountered, especially with spine and posture to match, that it really is a striking thing to behold. Suffice to say that CEBK is currently my #1 reason to visit X. Not that I recommend his account to anyone else! Anymore than I’d recommend reading the Pritzker Zohar to the average MIT student, much less the average Joe on the street. Learning at this level can be painful, even for the initiated. And my dear readers as much as I love you, there’s levels to this shit. ↩
- This should hold true to the extent that coordination value maps to capital value more closely in an environment (relatively) unconstrained by morlocks. Are digital assets really the social technology we hope they are? Only
timePunks will tell! ↩
- The priviledge about understanding bi-hemispheric differences is worth a lot! Just ask the Zombies. ↩
- TexasHedge is a fellow Punk and generally curious gentleman. He seems to be based in NYC and is a thoughtful conversational partner as you’ll see here. ↩
- The whole pop-psychology psyop of “veblenism” deserves its own article. Oh wait. Here it is. God I love the Contravex archives! ↩
- It’s really not that “flexing” is too “arriviste” or some such backwards moralising, it’s that it triggers the mega-powerful envy instinct in lesser peoples. Lesser peoples, it should be noted, who outnumber us by mass (ie. Zerg), and in a fake money socialist economy corrupt the signals and intentions between actual civilised humans. ↩
- This is an obviously exaggerated example of “rich person behaviour” to prove the point that money doesn’t buy sophistication in the same way that it can’t buy you new parents to make you less of a knuckle-dragging mouth-breather. Some things just aren’t for sale. And some thing take many, many, many generations to refine. ↩
- It’s very hard to think of physical goods that actually signal status in the 21st century Americas. FWIW the real signals look more like memberships at Augusta National and less like selfies of your feet on a First Class (or even PJ) flight. ↩
- “Respectable” here means pro-meritocratic (master morality, as opposed to DEI-esque slave morality. ↩
- Wen Pudgies flip Apes? 2024 that’s when! Andreessen bucks can’t be far away for the little winter birds now… ↩
- Patek 1518 is the original perpetual calendar chronograph (see full glossary of watch connoissuer terms) ↩
- The 3700 is the original Patek Nautilus, which is, of course, how we measure the *actual* inflation rate since 2016. ↩
- Sure “we never really own a Patek, we merely look after it for the next generation” but that tagline only holds water because the noble Stern family running the ship is firmly in its 4th generation of company ownership and continues to parry blows from LVMH (a.k.a. The Borg). ↩
- Just don’t call Indo-Europeans “Aryans” in modest company! To be sure, it’ll be at least another 30-50 years before the taint from that particular term has sufficiently subsided from the abuses thrust upon it by Hitler’s “strong retards.” But frankly, even calling Indo-Europeans “mound-builders” is a more revived perspective, at least in the sense that the Victorian-era* archeologists/anthropologists/artists interested in the origins of the Native American peoples, or even of the diverse peoples of Europe, considered globalised human history in a pre-genetic testing environment, though supremely concordant with said testing their “conjectures” have since 2014 proven to be (Nature article / World Archeology article). Though perhaps if you’re enjoying more scientifically literate company, you could call them “mtDNA Haplogroup X / Y-DNA Haplogroup R1b”. It al just depends on the conversational vibe!
___ ___ ___
* To quote one of America’s foremost poets from the Victorian era: William Cullen Bryan (1794-1878) and his work “The Prairies” (1832):
Let the mighty mounds
That overlook the rivers, or that rise
In the dim forest crowded with old oaks,
Answer. A race, that long has passed away,
Built them;—a disciplined and populous race
Heaped, with long toil, the earth, while yet the Greek
Was hewing the Pentelicus to forms
Of symmetry, and rearing on its rock
The glittering Parthenon. These ample fields
Nourished their harvest, here their herds were fed,
When haply by their stalls the bison lowed,
And bowed his maned shoulder to the yoke.
All day this desert murmured with their toils,
Till twilight blushed, and lovers walked, and wooed
In a forgotten language, and old tunes,
From instruments of unremembered form,
Gave the soft winds a voice. The red man came—
The roaming hunter tribes, warlike and fierce,
And the mound-builders vanished from the earth.