DOW Jonestown


  1. an economic good: such as

    1. a product of agriculture like grain and corn

    2. an article of commerce especially when delivered for shipment

    3. a mass-produced unspecialized product

  2. something useful or valued (see: thing, entity, convenience, advantage)

  3. a good or service whose wide availability typically leads to smaller profit margins and diminishes the importance of factors (such as brand name) other than price

  4. obsolete : quantity, lot


Soft commodities include but are not limited to: wheat, rice, barley. Hard commodities include but are not limited to: iron, ivory, diamond. Energy commodities include but are not limited to: coal, gas, sunlight. Linguistic commodities include and are limited to: words.


How I see the universe:

Atoms. A whole bunch of ‘em. Everywhere, a lot, and in some places, even more. Sometimes atoms pack so tightly, they end up bonding. Like how we humans do.  Hm— I guess I think of atoms as small humans. (Wasn’t that the name of the first one of us?)


Atoms buy and exchange themselves in the market of matter. That’s what friction is: a molecular transaction between surfaces. That’s what water does: H20 investing in your oats, your iron, your cells. That’s what electronics have: atomic particles trickling down a circuit. Of course, we don’t see this.  We see rubber. We see Vaseline. We see breakfast, rust, iPhones. We see the human-scaled phenomena, and we group them into clumps convenient to trade in the market of human interaction.

So even though we know about all those atoms, we don’t talk about them as individuals. It wouldn’t make any sense in daily life. And besides, atoms don’t mind us grouping them all together. In fact, hey seem to like it. For example, if I asked you, “Yo, reader, pass me that Twizzler,” you’re not going to hand it to me one atom at a time. I’d kill you— after we both died of old age. You’d hand me a whole Twizzler all at once, all in one piece, because when those Twizzler atoms hear my request, they cheer “Yippee!” and join arms and ease on down the road to my digestive tract. I have to masticate to get those mother lovers to separate. It’s a fair trade: we get to eat Twizzlers, and atoms get to stick with their friends. Net GAIN.

Or wait— is it a paper gain?

(paper gain- unrealized capital gain/loss in an investment. For a purchased long investment, it is the difference between the current price and the purchase price. For a sold or short investment, it is the difference between the price when sold short and the current price.)

I’m not sure atoms are getting a return on their investment. After all, our linguistic commodities (i.e. the unified concept of “Twizzler” or clumping my atoms together as a unit of “Emma”) have no value on any scale other than human.  They matter next to nothing for the atom or the planet. In the economy of the universe, words have no market power. Words can point towards meaning, but they themselves have no inherent value. 1


Before the enlightenment, the printing press, the telephone, the record player—before—words were rare. -Er. RarER. Linguistic opportunities were limited to the local. Hand-crafted, small batch, artisanal words. Bought at a farmers market. Slow-cooked letters.  Fine wine lyrics. Elite literacy. 2. Now, we buy and sell and exchange words at unprecedented rates. We trade words before its meaning— its value— can catch up. We’ve saturated the market. Soon our linguistic bubble will burst and our Babel economy will collapse. 3

  1. The author can not comment directly on the atomic market of matter, for she herself is human and can speak only to the human market of chatter. However, a reputable source, who prefers to remain anonymous, reports, “we’re fine.”

  2. The author does not intend to portray a nostalgia for the past. Look at her: she’s typing and erasing and copying and pasting at ADHD rates as she sips a soy milk latte and listens to Rihanna. She loves modern day. She intends only to emphasis that, back in the day, words were reverse endangered.

  3. The author writes and rewrites the last sentence four times. She hears ambient music (with lyrics), and she ignores. She hears people she has never talked to and will never talk to talk around her, and she ignores. She sports a shirt that says “Don’t worry. Be Yonce” but did not realize she had put on a garment with a message when she threw it on this morning. She’s literally (literally!) sitting on a newspaper she stole just for the Sudoku.  Words shmurds. But she reads this: “Ponzi scheme (noun)- a form of fraud in which belief in the success of a nonexistent enterprise is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors,” and she doesn’t know who Ponzi was or who the schemer would be, but, nevertheless, she wonders...

Emma Speer