10/30/2013 03:44 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Beyond Eating, Beyond Money

Dostoyevsky once described money as "coined liberty" (1915, 16). Indeed, money is independence.

But what is money?

All money is reducible to one and the same currency: energy. That's what flows through us, what moves us, and what motivates us. Money energizes because money is energy. The American greenback is a symbolic leaf of life: It starts out as a banknote of photosynthesis and is metabolized time and again through the samsaric mill of metabolic reincarnations until it transmutes into a living leaf of informational and symbolic value that is redeemable for energy. Currency is literally a current -- a current of energy trade. As such, money is a fundamentally heterotrophic invention. Money is an exchange of borrowed calories by those who didn't produce them in the first place. Autotrophs, the energy generators, have no need for money. Plants, unlike animals, are fundamentally and inalienably democratic and energy-independent. Each blade of grass has more sovereignty than any human nation. A blade of grass depends on nothing for its metabolic needs except abundant sun, air, water, and minerals. Each blade of grass is a dominion unto itself. It needs not ask, beg, buy, or trade. It is sovereign.

And so shall Homo solaris be. Reliant on the commons of sun, air, water, and minerals for physiological needs, Homo solaris will be beyond money and thus beyond the corruption of money and therefore fundamentally sovereign and inalienably free.

In his book Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth, Richard Fortey reminisces about the photosynthetic Eden of Precambrian time: "Cellularity had become a food chain, gobbling began, and voracity has never gone away. If there were a point in history at which Tennyson's famous phrase 'Nature, red in tooth and claw' could be said first to apply, this was it... The era of photosynthetic passivity and peaceful coexistence...had passed from the Earth, and the hierarchy of power has never subsequently been forgotten" (1998, 92-93). He's absolutely right: Heterotrophy is fundamentally hierarchical. Human photosynthesis, through "techno-organic evolution," wouldn't have to mean passivity, but it certainly can mean peaceful coexistence. Human photosynthesis, as I see it, would enable each individual through possession of an independent means of energy production. A civilization of metabolically independent individuals is a natural-born democracy.

Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, New Harbinger, 2012)