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The Golden Buddha in Bangkok.

Measuring Life

They tell you “Time is money,”
as if your life was worth its weight in gold

Bob Dylan (1979)


Our attempts to measure life seem unremitting. Every way we turn siren voices call out for measurement. I measure how many steps I take, we compete for exam marks, our dear leaders receive votes; and then I even come to measure the time I spend in conviviality Group of people sitting around food being cooked at floor level. The fundamental place conviviality has in our lives. as though it were some fairground ride: objectification by measurement and price. Apposite is the tale of the Golden Buddha shown above: probably made in the fourteenth century, it was covered in plaster by the mid 1700s to hide its ‘price’. In 1955 while being relocated it was dropped, the plaster chipped and revealed the original. The 5.5 tonnes of gold might sell for $250 million. Hidden, its value was as a link A statue of the Hindu god Ganesha in the Da Nang museum. Gods, like the friendly Ganesha, stand ready to offer us a link between worlds. to matters that humans regard as being beyond price, Snow covered eastern Turkey from above. A page which can offer nothing more on what is beyond price! now it has two values. How able are we to ‘Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s’ without devaluing what does not belong to him?

Dylan’s album Slow Train Coming includes the track When You Gonna Wake Up from which the quote is taken. This was the first of his three ‘evangelical period’ records with songs which toy with Christianity.

The Golden Buddha is housed in the Wat Traimit in Bangkok. The photo was taken in August 2008, just before a grand new building took over its housing.

Above, hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 6th August 2022

Murphy on duty to this site