As a folklorist, I sometimes speak metaphorically about “cultural capital” and “social currency.” But what if there were an actual currency of memory and meaning? This unit might be called a myen, a unit backed not by gold bullion, but by human values and associations.
Myens work differently from money. Money is distributed unequally: some people are born into it; some steal it; others earn it. Some people have a knack for making money. And money makes money. Myens correlate with the time and emotional energy that human beings invest each year in the places and things they love. By investing myens on houses, communities, or places that matter—you cannot actually buy them; rather, you protect them from being bought or destroyed, or foreclosed on by the banks. If a particular place has not accumulated sufficient myens—memories, values, stories that equal its value in money—then it can be bought and sold on the open market.
The U.S. dollar was once backed by the gold bullion held at Fort Knox. The myen is backed by and correlated with time. People invest their myens according to the places and communities where they spend their work and leisure time—and according to the depth of experience attributed to these places. Historical sites with powerful memories and associations yield a dividend in myens, and, likewise, sites of ongoing use earn myens according to the value the community invests in them.