Monday, June 18, 2007

... value

i was thinking about the idea of intrinsic value and how little i think i appreciate it. in some ways instrinsic value is a very abstract concept but in other ways very concrete.

i remember reading ursula k. le guin's earthsea sequence, in which we meet ged, a young wizard learning how to manipulate the magic of the world. the way they do this in earthsea is to know the true name of someone or something and thus by knowing the true nature of the person or thing it can then be manipulated. in terms of magic and the idea of magic this is no new idea: many old forms of magic required something that belonged to or was actually a part of the person being manipulated or enchanted (remember the witches of eastwick when the women took revenge on daryl van horne?). totems would also be used to represent the true nature of something; idols also.

i'm sure i remember something from plato or aristotle about this too, that the things we see are not the true thing itself but how the essential thing is manifested in the world of matter. i suspect that emergent behaviour in complex systems (and the idea of emergent artificial intelligence) is kind of linked to this idea of the true thing being conceptual or spiritual.

this goes against the grain for the Christian perspective, which maintains that people, and the world (or creation, if you want to look at it like that), were made initially and deliberately by God to be material things and experience or be experienced in a material way. people are almost a nexus between the material nature of our bodies and the immaterial nature of our souls. (or are our souls immaterial?)

i went to a forum on the weekend discussing self-publishing and how it impacted the artistic community in a whole range of different ways; critically, artistically, monetarily, to list a few. i couldn't help but wonder that if we have to consider how a work of art needs to be explained or rationalised, what is its value? does it have a value intrinsic to itself? does that artist have the right to alter it once it is created or does it have its own right to exist once it has been made? can it be unmade? is its value wholly and solely in how it is experienced (by the consumer of the art) or how it is meant to be experienced (in the mind of the artist)? how much of the value of thing is wrapped up in what it does?

i think i've kind of wandered off from where i was going here but to be honest i don't know that i really had a point anyway.

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