Re: [rumori] gifts

From: Steev Hise (
Date: Sat Apr 27 2002 - 11:42:52 PDT

on Sat, 27 Apr 2002 Colin Hinz told me:

>Look at the larger picture, Steev -- what you're saying is that artists
>and musicians who work in the digital domain should give their work
>away, whereas painters, sculptors, and lounge pianists should all be
>entitled to business as usual.

no, that's not what i'm saying at all. did i say that i was only
talking about digital? no, i'm talking about all art.

Pan said:
  "If someone feels that they create art with worth, they should
  feel entitled to get back some of that worth. Art is necessary
 for a culture. It fulfill's a vital need."

Absolutely. I totally agree with that 200%. but none of that
means you should demand cash for it. you're assuming that the
only way to value art is as an exchange-economy commodity. which
is just not true. In fact, examine the standards: how often do we
put down "bad pop music" or other crappy culture because it's
"too commercial"? pretty much everyone believes, perhaps only
subconciously, but deep down, that when an artist crosses some
line into pure commodity-exchange, that their work isnt really as
valuable anymore. It's a deep social norm that is seldom
expressed out loud: that art is something to be valued in a
fundamentally different way.

Of course, we live in a society where most art exists in both
worlds, it's part of the commodity-exchange market and it's also
part of the secret gift world that no one talks about. I'm not
saying we can totally get rid of the former, i'm just trying to
talk about the latter and maybe inspire some of us to drift a
little further in that direction...

Pan also said:
 "The artist takes a step back from the "inspiration", looks it
 over, then attempts to reproduce/comment on/reject
 it...[..snip..]..This step back implies an ability to avoid
 "walking the maze" every day." "

It sounds like you're basically saying that artists are these
special sensitive people that need to be protected from the real
world so they can work their special genius magic. I disagree.
On the contrary, I think the best art often comes from normal
people who have been down in the trenches experiencing real life.
The worst art i've ever seen has been made by pretentious people
who've never done anything but go to art school straight out of
their art-focused high school. yeah, they're separated,
all right, but that's not a good thing.

I agree with Bob, though, that it helps to have the kind of day
job that still leaves you with enough energy and time to do your
art. It's a great idea to have some kind of "artist employment
agency" which finds dayjobs for artists. Though I don't know if
I agree with the criteria you give, Bob. brain numbing? no way!

The mention of benefits is great too, Bob. how many people would
love to dump their stupid full-time job and go travelling or make
art for a year, but they don't dare because they'd lose their
insurance? That's why nationalized health insurance would be
such a great thing. At the very least, give company health
insurance to part-timers, don't require full-time.

And here's one more thing: even if everyone got compensated by
some magic world-wide rights-tracking system, so what? most of us
would get a few pennies or maybe a few dollars a month based on
the number of copies of whatever we do that gets listened to or
viewed. so then what? (and where would the money come from? but
that's another whole thread.) you'd STILL need a day job to
survive. The fact of the matter is that the Myth of the Artist
cons people into thinking they can be superstar special people,
when really only .0001% ever get to be superstars or even to live
off their artistic pursuits. The rest are chaff in the mill,
ground up and spit out. So I'm saying, give up, you're never
going to make it to that promised land. don't bother, don't play
their game. Do it cause you love it, give it away, work a little
bit to pay your bills, and stop stressing out about it. I'm NOT
saying artists should be FORCED to do this. I'm just stating an
idea. If you like it, do it, and tell somebody else about it.
tell your kids, if you have any.

I've probably mentioned it already, but "The Gift" by Lewis Hyde
has been a tremendous inspiration to me recently on this whole
topic and I can't recommend it more highly:

Let me mention one section out of the book that might illustrate
what I'm talking about with art: Hyde talks about Alcoholics
Anonymous, and how there's no charge for joining. The last step
in the AA 12 steps is to help another alcoholic. They're passing
on the gift they received. They got it for free, and they're
giving it back. If they charged money for it, it wouldn't work
as well, because that would cut off "the motivating force of
gratitude, a source of AA's energy" (p. 46). Hyde's point is
that some things in society work better when they're not
exchanged for money. What I'm trying to say (and what he too says
later in the book) is that art may also be one of those things.


Steev Hise, Automagickal Adept
*Recycled Culture:
*Watching power flow:
*Democratic sound collage generator:
"Wallstreet has made technology into a giant soap opera,
 and our relationship with it has come to resemble a
 tawdry romance."
                 -Annalee Newitz

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