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The Seven Deadly Sins: Greed and Avarice - How to Catch Monkeys?

According to a well-known advertising slogan, avarice should be cool. Obviously, the copywriter did not know the nice saying: "Avoidance has no appeal for Venus." But the advertising slogan is not aimed at the joys of love, but focuses on cleverness and profit maximization. Anyone who has found the best price-performance ratio on the Internet when buying or negotiated the greatest price discount should be considered the star at the regulars' table or during a coffee chat. Visiting the website, a platform for misers, opens up undreamt-of savings opportunities. There you can find advice on how to save money, for example when it comes to personal hygiene (showering cold - and seldom) as well as buying socks (buying several identical pairs allows you to recombine if a sock is lost or punctured!). A Geizhals newspaper has also been published in Austria since 2002.

Avarice as one of the meanings of "Avaritia" is accompanied by greed or greed. In Oliver Stone's classic film “Wall Street” (1987), finance shark Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, makes the unmasking “greed is good” speech: “The crucial point is that greed, unfortunately there is no better one for it Word is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clears things up, permeates them and is the core of every progressive spirit. ”In the global financial crisis of the last few years, things cleared up differently than expected and greed showed its destructive face. States, banks and many private assets were in danger or gave birth to huge mountains of debt.

This is the scene that Steffen Volmer shows us in his four-color linocut. A distinguished-looking bearded man sinks in the mud - or in hot, boiling oil, as it was prophesied in the Middle Ages as a punishment from hell for the greedy. Still sinking, he clings to his possessions, which at the same time seem to have grown together with his head and his thoughts in the form of bulging bags or balls. Plus and minus signs, profit and loss determine the background of the event. It is obviously not about joy, even enthusiasm or pleasure in certain things and events - it is only about abstract structures and calculations. On the right side of the picture a branch is sinking - perhaps the one on which the financial juggler sat and which he saw off himself in his greed.

The balls in this picture are reminiscent of a long forgotten story about the question of how to catch monkeys. Hollowed out coconuts, which only have a small opening and are also chained, were recommended. The monkeys can just put their hand into the nutshells filled with delicacies - but cannot pull them out when they are clutching the delicacies with their hands. In order to be able to pull their hand out of the chained coconut, the monkeys would have to forego the delicacies - and that is exactly what they could not make up to in their greed. So it is easy to catch them. I don't know if this story is true - but it is beautiful.

Prof. Dr. med. Hartmut Kraft

Biography Steffen Vollmer

Born in Dresden in 1955. 1976–1981 studies at the University of Graphics and Book Art in Leipzig. Master student until 1984 with Prof. Gerhard Kettner. Lives and works in Chemnitz.

Book A: Avarice, indolence, envy and co. In therapy and pastoral care. Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer 2012.
Laham SM: The meaning of sin. The 7 deadly sins and why they are good for us. Darmstadt: Primus Verlag / Scientific Book Society 2013.
Volmer St: inner city. Catalog of the gallery of the city of Tuttlingen, Tuttlingen 2010.