It’s Silly To NFT It

Exactly six months after I wrote ‘It’s Nifty To NFT It’, my sentiments have totally changed. The Bitcoin price then was USD41,911, today I feel jubilant if it rises above the 20K mark. Not so long ago, a Bored Ape NFT would fetch in excess of a million bucks, today, you’d be lucky to sell yours for USD100K. As prices plummeted, Bill Gates came out to say that the NFT market relies totally on the “Greater fool theory’. If the chap is right, I’d be a fool to have any faith in NFTs. So, it’s kinda silly to keep talking about it, right?

“What is it anyway, this NFT?” a friend asked in a deadpan voice. He suggested the ‘F’ in NFT should mean the swear word, considering many people would have lost over 70% of their investments. “We have No eFfing Time for such nonsense,” he said, quite cleverly. So, it looks increasingly futile to NFT the many paintings I have collected in my photo gallery from visits to the Hermitage museum. It seemed like a great idea to convert them into digital assets that will be collectable and therefore valuable in the future. Most things can be tokenised and be of value. Whilst money and currencies are fungible, there are assets that aren’t fungible, such as digital art and music. They are one-offs and cannot be easily replaced.

“That’s just bonkers to think anyone would part with their money for a thing they can’t feel or touch,” said my friend. He can’t understand that an experience can be felt, even if it is not physical.

“Besides, you can sell or rent it out to a virtual museum in the metaverse,” I said.

Renoir’s ‘Young Woman with a Fan’ will be disappointed she won’t be in the metaverse.

I had also planned to convert a painting of my mother into an NFT. I had even prepared the notes for it. In my heart, her portrait will not only exist in the physical form, but will also exist in the digital realm. What better way to honour her then to ‘teleport’ her to the metaverse? How would the 99-year-old feel about the idea that she will exist forever in both physical and digital forms?

Niang loves durian. Artist: Anne Koh

Of all virtues, filial piety is the first 百善孝為先

The concept of filial piety for the Chinese stems from the great sage, Confucius. The key

word is 養/养, pinyin: yǎng, which means ‘feed’, or ‘raise’. It is therefore not surprising that food is a symbol often used to depict our love and respect for our elders, through feeding and looking after their needs when they need our support and care most.

Anne Koh’s painting of ‘Niang’ or mother fully captures the spirit of obedience, respect, care and love for her elder. Niang is visibly content and happy with the durian (a thorny fruit from SE Asia) in her hand. Her effort to hide her smile and contain her appreciation, whilst showing off the durian which she obviously is enjoying, emanates from typical Chinese culture of behaving with appropriate decorum given her hierarchical status as Matriarch of her family. The formality of receiving food from her children who are not present in the painting is a strong symbol of filial piety, parental care on the one hand and of the ‘debt’ towards their elders on the other.

Wu Yonggang

It also looks increasingly likely that I will have to abandon my plans to NFT The Mrs’ painting of Third Son. If it is silly to NFT his music, it must be also silly to NFT the painting of him deep in thought and expressive outpouring with his cello.

Third Son during Covid years. Artist: The Mrs

The lost years of the pandemic is aptly depicted by The Mrs’ painting of Third Son’s journey as a musician. Some of his early childhood music still echoes in the house. ‘Song of the Wind’ and ‘May Song’ linger in the hearts and minds of the remaining residents of the house where the tyranny of time and harshness of distance can do no damage to the fond memories that forever reside there. On the bottom right corner of the painting, a snippet of Third Son’s notes in his diary reveals his love for the cello and his yearning for his absent father who was away in Sydney for long periods due to demands from his work. The young boy’s wish was to sit on his father’s shoulders and play his cello. On the left of that are the busts of the cellist’s favourite composers, whose music today form the cello’s greatest repertoire. Beethoven, Elgar, Shostakovich, Dvorak and Brahms, just to name a few. Even John Williams is there, but mostly for his Star Wars music which has been an enduring legacy of his fervent love for music. Picasso’s Old Guitarist, terribly hunched and haggard, bears no connection to Third Son but is there to depict the harsh desperation that Covid lockdowns had unleashed on the music world where musicians and other artists were bled of work opportunities. The Mrs aptly described the starkness between a vibrant life and suffering by using the image of a healthy tree-top to depict a fake normalcy of a healthy society but below it, the sad desperate truth is outed by a scene of devastation and direness unleashed by the bleached-white spikes of a Sars-CoV-2 virus on miserable orchestral players, some masked, others sombre and gloomy.

It’s not just that NFTs add value to art. It’s that art is a way to add value to any NFT.

Balaji Srinivasan

Who is Balaji Srinivasan? A hero, a genius, to me. Still quite a young chap, the Stanford University engineering alumni has won some notable awards such as the MIT Technology Review’s ‘Innovators Under 35’ Award and a Wall Street Journal Innovation Award. He sees a future where those who belong to a new country or state will require an NFT to ‘sign-on’ or a passport to enter a world where only they can enjoy an extra layer of the world where those without cannot see or experience. That NFT allows you to belong to an integrated community that is physically distributed but digitally connected in one place, in other words, a network state.

A network state is a social network with a moral innovation, a sense of national consciousness, a recognised founder, a capacity for collective action, an in-person level of civility, an integrated cryptocurrency, a consensual government limited by a social smart contract, an archipelago of crowdfunded physical territories, a virtual capital, and an on-chain census that proves a large enough population, income, and real-estate footprint to attain a measure of diplomatic recognition.

Balaji Srinivasan

So, I stand with arms akimbo and wonder which direction I should take. Is it nifty to NFT it? Or is it really silly to? I am so rugged up with layers and layers of thick winter clothes in the house, that I appear to have no neck to speak of. “Why don’t you turn on the heater?” Third Son asked me on a video chat.

Perhaps The Mrs said it best, “Dear, just remember that money has a way of burning a hole in your pocket.” I shrugged my shoulders and this time, even I felt neckless and feckless as she ended our conversation with words that still reverberate chaotically in my ear drums.