chapter  6
Intellectual Fashions
(1983)
Pages 2

From the princely or royal courts to the journals, the manifestos, the avantgarde publications, from the Renaissance to today, this fiduciary value of fashionable words has charged its inflection. The credit that fashionable words lend procures a mercantile power, not just an ideological or political one. The editors, the movie producers, the television directors, the newspaper editors, if not the “authors” of these ideas, make money out of the fashions in words. Mercantile exchange penetrates what is called culture, and imposes its rule of optimal difference. People speculate on the gaps between ways of thinking (of speaking) just as they do on those between ways of dressing, between modes of production, or between currencies. The difference in value that results from the gap consists in a gain of time. You have to move faster than the rest, be the first to furnish the words (the clothes, the currencies) that allow the community that adopts them to differentiate itself for a moment. One fulfills a desire for difference, and at the same time one destroys difference. The life of passwords is ephemeral.