Saturday, February 20, 2010

Commodifying our gifts

The internet is transforming the world in thousands of ways, tiny rivulets of communication and knowledge running everywhere. One is that it has made it easy for people to offer what they create for sale. I noticed this the other day when I was looking for a simple photograph of pines, vertical in the snow to post with my haiku. The first couple of photos I liked led me to sites offering prints for sale for, say, $150. There's a lot of that going around these days.

Causation is complicated here. It probably includes the fact that many people are out of work, and have the time, and the need, to make money by selling their hobby or dream - their wonderful cupcakes or unique knitted purses, or well-composed photographs. It goes to services to. Reading over the catalog for a local fund-raising auction I see people offering forms of massage that border on the spiritual, such as Reiki and foot reflexology, for handsome prices. Folk healing practices they are gifted at and that we once did for one another for free. These services, too, have leapt out of the realm of the spiritual and become commodities.

I haven't got very far in Lewis Hyde's formidable book, the kind we call a tome, large and scholarly. The early parts were inspiring enough, and got me to thinking with fascination of the commodification of what we call our gifts or talents. I see there is a great deal of scholarship along these lines, and if I don't stop here, I'll be reading Marx, at last (not required of a humanities major back in the day). And I want to stop. I have promised to make orzo with roasted tomatoes for a potluck tonight, and this is the moment to make it so I can still have my nap. You can't buy a dish quite like this at the gourmet market (they don't roast the grape tomatoes) though the tomatoes are not, alas, home-grown here in Ohio in February. Now that I think of it, the dish lacks the authenticity of the local and seasonal such as I am reading about in Michael Pollan's book on food. Sigh. It's so hard to be good. Or perfect. Hard to be perfect. Maybe not so hard to just be good.


  1. "Hard to be perfect. Maybe not so hard to just be good."

    One of my favorite sayings from my friends at A.A is "Progress, not perfection."

    I feel that as we sweat this small stuff, like where our tomatoes come from, the big stuff never comes to fruition.

  2. Good or not-good - the whole point is missed.