in Saptamana Financiara
5 December 2005
upon a never time*
By Marin Marian Balasa
the previous issue of "Financial Weekly" we talked about Antarctica's
money. In this issue I will continue to talk about the same
subject. Only this time the article won't describe the real,
legal and special currency. It will talk about fictional money,
as much as it would talk about a fictional Antarctica, an
Antarctica that becomes a sort of Atlantis.
aspect is that the design of these banknotes is not entirely
fictional. To be more precise, the concept behind them is
original; however, many of the iconographical elements, faces,
symbols, drawings and even some of the ornaments are part
of an old and very diverse collection of banknotes. The imaginary
dollars of an imaginary Atlantis are collages - they are obtained
by combining images and symbols that already existed, some
of financial origins, some of literary roots. And when new
images or ornaments are introduced, they mimic the "reality"
in a very convincing way, although without failing to include
a hint of strangeness.
face featuring bizarre tattoos and the ruins of Athens's Acropolis
prove this, then let's take a look at, say, the seven dollar
bill. The "Winter" edition of this is dedicated to the explorer
Ronald Sutcliffe and his wife Eunice. In the 19th century
Sutcliffe was the first one to step on the white continent
and became the Leader of Expeditions for a colony formed by
a group of utopians. The back of the banknote illustrates
the Seven Wonders of the World: the Egyptian pyramids, the
Colossus of Rhodes, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue
of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the
Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus, and the Lighthouse
can see we are faced with money that incorporates the more
or less mysterious symbols of the world. All of these introduce
a country - called Nadiria, as we will see later on - that
is imagined as an ideal and superior development of the human
existence and its vision. As such, the Nadiric dollars are
speaking about what is more profound, initiated and therefore
superior in the development of human thinking and intuition.
of this dreamed Antarctica, which may be better described
as a colony of American pioneers or members of a sect, feature
many peculiarities. One of them, as we have already observed,
is the existence of four variations of each banknote of a
specific value. To be more precise, there are four editions:
Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
already shown, these banknotes not entirely invented. They
are not toys or gadgets either. Greater than being false,
they are fictional. The illustrations are created to support
stories or, to be more specific, a romantic and scholarly
fairy tale. They are destined to stimulate your fantasy and
your imagination. They are even called oneiric (dream) dollars
on their www.dream-dollars.com website. And maybe this is
exactly why their illustrations are composed of already existing
images and ornaments that are mixed with special symbols and
images inspired by speculative books and sciences. It is similar
to how a night's dream or an imaginary fantasy associates
and amalgamates real faces and patterns in its own synthesis.
But the dream element is underlined with an obvious ostentation
especially when the paradisiacal and erotic-sensual theme
have already noticed, the value of these utopian-oneiric-fictional
Antarctica-Atlantis dollars does not illustrate an orderly
succession, but one that is equally irrational and mathematical-metaphysical.
Ignoring the rigid rules of socio-economic efficiency, the
figures follow some "natural" rules here, producing banknotes
with values of 1, 4, 7 , 13, 28, 52, 91 and 365 dollars. Any
of these are sold for the real-world value of US$14.95 each.
whole story, sustained by the images of these banknotes and
the banknotes themselves, are the creation of the contemporary
New Yorker Stephen Barnwell. He is the inventor of Nadiria
- the lost colony of Antarctica.
is historically placed between 1838 and 1899 and was founded
by Samuel Brundt and his wife, Constance. If Samuel was a
visionary with a philosophy that is equally intellectually-holistic
and revolutionary, Constance was a master of the prophetic
dream. In New York she founded her own church and community
that initially had only 16 members. It was named The Church
of Spiritual Commerce. In his book "The Great Transaction",
Brundt wrote that "Life is an exchange of heat, energy, force,
love, hate, art. There are spiritual and material transactions
occurring every minute. Our monetary system is a microcosm
of this." The intellectual culture, the dream and the philosophical
vision were at the essence of this community. Therefore the
publishing house and typography of Nadiria became their most
important instruments, and were the first to be brought to
the arctic land. After initially founding a transitional colony,
called Constonia, on the shore of Venezuela's tropical jungle,
the colony moved to Antarctica. Building a complex heating
system, they managed to create an underground village. There
they would have lived a life full of revelations, realizations
and tragedies until the fall of the colony. The "Codex Celastrus"
- a book containing information about bizarre sciences, most
of them deciphered from the ruins of a lost Antarctic civilization
- became the colonists' bible.
the colony's dollars, the writer tells us that they were used
as a form of "social engineering". The natural numbers system
1, 4, 7, 13, 28, 52, 91, 365 automatically introduces a different
form of thinking, and the founder of the colony, Samuel Brundt,
believed that his numerology and banknotes would raise the
level of consciousness and knowledge. This money would have
an influence over the power of the colonists' subconscious
and their dreams.
Barnwell's invented story continues even during the 20th century.
He fantasizes that in 1901 an attempt to discover Nadiria
is lead by the International Geographic Society and succeeded
in tracing the lost remains of the utopian Antarctic colony.
The "International Society of Nadiria" is founded in Paris
in 1925, followed by the "Nadiria Historical Society" in USA
in 1932. Their purpose is to recover and spread the knowledge
acquired by the Nadirians. In 1953 the oneiric dollars - or,
to be more precise, naïve and artisan reproductions of the
originals- are surfacing on the night club scene of Greenwich
Village in New York. Starting with 1967 they become popular
within the hippie culture, being associated with its drug,
music and poetry culture. It is believed that even today the
oneiric dollars have the power to provoke and control dreams
and an altered state of consciousness. In 1999, the Nadiria
Historical Society asked the Antarctica Film Arts company
to restore and commercialize the Antarctic dollars. The AFA
company might be imaginary or might be the artistic studio
of the illustrator-graphic artist and writer Stephen Barnwell.
coming from his hand and mind, literary phantasm or imaginary
delirium and its visually supportive elements - illustration,
images and symbolic games graphically transcribed in banknotes
- are two realities that intertwine almost to become one.
we all know, money has a powerful effect over consciousness.
In general, the oral culture stresses the negative, delirious
and possessive mental states that money can fuel. However,
in Barnwell's case, this idea or truth is brought to an intellectual
positive extreme. It is speculated and proved, that money
can become a support for dreaming and literary, mythologized,
utopian, innocent, romantic, idyllic and gracious fantasizing.
fost odata, ca niciodata" is the traditional way to start
a story, which places the time and place of the action in
something which would be closely described as "neverland"
© 2005 Marin Marian Balasa
thanks to Catalin Lazia for his translation.