So, depressed... Who would imagine it? Bill Gates, the wealthiest man
in America, depressed. Can you see the cover story in next month's Forbes?
If the news gets out I'll lose so much respect that shares of Microsoft
will plummet like my emotions. If I can buy every man or woman's fantasy,
and that isn't enough, then what is there to live for?
I can't sleep anymore and I've stopped answering my cellular phone--even the
line my broker calls on. I wander my mansion at night, run my finger along the
dusty creases of the marble statues, drive my Porsche around my swimming pool
smoking imported cigarillos drinking 16 year old single malt scotch, and none
of this pleases me. In fact, sometimes, like last night when I dropped the remote
control for my satellite dish in the hot tub, I feel ridiculous. Underneath
this tailored Italian suit with the aggressive cut to the shoulders and the
silk tie with the glinting sapphire pin is a naked, awkward, scrawny, insecure
dork. Although I am now capable of buying the companies that employ all of the
jocks who beat me up in high school and firing them all and contesting their
unemployment, or buying up their rental property and evicting them, or hiring
thugs to force them to wear their own underwear on their head like they did
to me in the locker room, it wouldn't make any difference.
I have received numerous offers to publish my autobiography Most publishers
will provide ghost writers so all I need to do is sign away the rights to my
story and then sit back and await royalties. But it's my story, right, I mean
I own it, right, so I should write it, right? I sit in front of creamy expensive
paper -- the finest paper available from the pulp of a rare tree in tropical
forests -- with a $200 ballpoint cocked in my right hand, and I can't stop thinking
about that locker room. I called my lawyer in the middle of the night. I woke
him and he seemed taken aback when I asked his advice on a good opening sentence.
He said he would research it and call me back at dawn. I am all money and no
soul -- where did it go?
I approached my gardener yesterday as he was trimming the bushes shaped like
Venus de Milo where the sundeck offers an exquisite view of my acreage. I offered
him a hundred dollars to walk around the garden with me. He refused the money
so I handed him five hundred. He blushed as he took it. We talked about my cars
and I wanted to burst out sobbing to him, to tell him that I was unhappy, but
couldn't. I don't think he likes me. Maybe I could pay him a thousand next time
and take him out to Le Pig Papier for brandy and veal shishkabob.
I was introduced to Scientology by my old pal Donald Trump, but it doesn't
help. I am an empty man. There is a void inside of me even religion can't fill.
I can't write, I can't paint, I can't run, I can't cook, I can't play guitar,
I can't be a good lover, I can't be a good friend, I can't act, I can't sing,
I'm not that good at basketball, I don't have any friends and not only don't
I want what I have, I don't even know what I want.
Money. It's a game I can win. I already have. With money I can invest in tennis
lessons and perhaps win that game too. I can hire a ghost writer and top the
bestseller list and my autobiography will be considered a classic of our time,
like that book by Steinbeck -- I forget the title. I understand money a little.
It makes the world go round and is the root of something -- I forget what. Anyway,
it marks me as a superman. Without it, what would I be?
I went to this talk once. I learned that currency arose as an extension of
the barter system. Suppose you wanted to trade a loaf of freshly baked bread
for a dozen eggs, but didn't want to eat the eggs right away. Well, money would
allow you to sell the bread for currency. Currency would not go bad. You could
exchange the currency for something else when you were ready. The thing was,
this meant that you could amass wealth and it wouldn't go bad or take up any
space. Wealth became power, and the competitive became powerful.
I wonder what it was like before money, when people traded goods for goods,
built what was needed, grew their own food... There were no jet-skis back then,
true, but what did people do when they couldn't fly to Australia or shop? It
must have been so boring. You must have had to think constantly to entertain
yourself, what with no television and all. Still, health care was even worse
and wars had to be fought by hand. I wonder what a world without money could
be like? There wouldn't be anything to buy, for one thing. I guess you couldn't
own land, which I guess makes sense, how can you own land anyway..? It probably
would be difficult to pay my kitchen staff and laundry service. It's scary --
in order to get the things I needed I'd probably have to talk to strangers.
I haven't done that since 1989.
What I do is manufacture a product which, once manufactured, can be massproduced
for pennies. You don't need much investment capital to copy software, after
all, and discs are quite cheap when you buy them a million at time. The product
is on disc, it is invisible. Most of my money is invisible too, its a number
on a computer somewhere. What money I have is massproduced. Invisible massproduced.
I want to design a new economic system that will make men like me impossible.
I want an economic system which uses original art as currency. It has to be
visible -- or audible -- and if it is used again it decreases in value to quickly
become worthless. This is my dream and I, Bill Gates, am accustomed to getting
what I want. There will be no more men like me whose roots snake down into the
very depths of whatever it was I forgot.
I will begin by learning to paint. This wall of my house is useless. It's just
in the way. I'll use it as a canvas and master some basic techniques.
Perhaps I'll paint my Rolls: those things are so common. I can customize
mine with chartreuse blobs of paint.