Sunday, November 16, 2008

the gift on my mind

found here (click to see it bigger)

over the course of a few subway rides this afternoon, i found myself accidentally engrossed in an article in the times sunday magazine entitled what is art for? the subject is the poet lewis hyde. what most captivated me about the article was the concept of a gift economy as conceived by hyde in his seminal work, the gift

Hyde’s 1983 book “The Gift,” subtitled “Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World,” argues that inspiration comes to its creator the same way a gift does. Because of this, both the artist and the resulting work itself become uneasy in a market economy. This gift is most comfortable, instead, when it is kept moving — offered or traded — instead of being hoarded or commodified….Over the years, “The Gift” has developed a cult following among writers and artists who rarely lend their names to anything as potentially sentimental as a book on “creativity” — David Foster Wallace, Zadie Smith and Geoff Dyer among them. To Jonathan Lethem, it’s “a life-changer”; video artist Bill Viola calls it “the best book I have read on what it means to to be an artist in today’s economic world.”
- from an LA Times article on the gift

i'm not sure what i have to say about these ideas yet. all i know is that i found the article very intriguing. it left me feeling emboldened to seek out the book at the library tomorrow and to dig up my norton anthology of american literature (which i am thrilled to have not discarded during my move!) in order to re-read some passages by emerson and thoreau, which i remember captivated me when i first read them in the 10h or 11th grade.

No comments: