I’m at the airport with Nick Kahn, waiting for him to clear security. I just gave him $30, what my father would have called “walking-around money”—and I asked him to bring me the change and the receipts. Because it’s not my money to give. Or, not only my money. One of the bills was a $20. And this bill had been given to me at the conclusion of the tournament by Peter Loewi, who had bet me $20 one day that he would roll a 900, 9 hundos. Which he didn’t. But the bill he gave me had been given to him by Sal Randolph—or rather, Peter had taken this bill from her during her April 2nd talk. Randolph had passed around a cup full of bills at her talk and had asked members of the audience either to take bills or to add bills, whatever they wanted to do. So, the $20 in Nick’s hand has passed from Sal to Peter, from Peter to me, and now from me to him, with various obligations and new values attached to it, above and beyond and below its exchange value. Not a gift exactly: I didn’t give it to Nick; I expect Haverford to compensate me. Peter didn’t give it to me; the $20 cancelled a debt. And while Sal did give it away, freely, she also invested it, interested in whether the bill’s circulation would “produce” a return, whether insights or indebtedness or gratitude or discomfort.
When Peter took it from the cup and told me that it was the very bill with which he hoped later to pay off his debt to me, I asked Randolph to sign it. She wrote “pledged” on it and dated it. When Nick spends this $20, this particular $20, now marked and storied and claimed by several, it will invariably rub up against other economies and be scrubbed of these stories, which survives here, stretched across the poles of a few proper names and a few material supports: an artwork, a bet, a game, and an airport.