a work of art is a gift not a commodity

Pre-blog Morning reading today included The Gift by Lewis Hyde as well as more Badura-Skoda on Bach interp.

“I believe that since the 1989 fall of the Soviet Union, the West has undergone a period of remarkable market triumphalism. We’ve witnessed the steady conversation into private property of the art and ideas that earlier generations thought belonged to their cultural commons, and we’ve seen the commodification of things that  a fear tears ago would have seemed beyond the reach of any market. The loyalty of school children, indigenous knowledge, drinking water,the human genome—it’s all for sale.” Lewis Hyde

My daughter, Elizabeth, mailed me The Gift for my birthday. It inspired me to return to this book that I started reading a while back.

“You received gifts  from me; they were accepted.
But you don’t understand how to think about the dead,
The smell of winter apples, of hoarfrost, and of linen,
There are nothing but gifts on this poor, poor earth.”

Czelasaw Milosz

I was pondering my experience yesterday playing for my Mom’s nursing home. Hyde talks about art and music as non-commodities. He talks about the relationships inherent in gift giving and in the arts.

“The artist appeals to that part of our being… which is a gift and not an acquisition—and, therefore, more permanently enduring.” Joseph Conrad

I felt this yesterday as I played and talked with people at Resthaven.  This group sits attentively and listens while I play classical music. Yesterday it was Haydn, Chopin and Bach. Then as I play popular tunes from the past, the group starts humming and singing along.

I encourage them to do this.

I like these old tunes myself.

Then we turn to hymns.

I’m always interested in what hymns people know. So I enjoy this part as well.

This is my copy of the hymnal I grew up with.
This is my copy the actual hymnal of my youth....

Today is my 60th birthday and it’s shaping up like I will have a bit more time to relax today and tomorrow. My biggest birthday gift has been watching Eileen land a new position at the library. Yay!!!! She will be doing more of the stuff she enjoys like working with kids. And she will be getting paid more. One of her co-workers said that she was a no-brainer to land this gig. She has her heart set on it! I’m very glad she got it!


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5 thoughts on “a work of art is a gift not a commodity

  1. Random fact of the day: I stayed in Mi?osz’s apartment building in Krakow this past May. I have no idea if I was in his actual room or not, but I found this to be another example of the wonderful gift Europe offers the casual traveler: significant artificts of history and culture surprise you constantly.

    Happy birthday, old man!


  2. Thank you for the birthday wishes, people. I had a very good day. Ray, the house renovation is starting to move a bit. We are contracting with a relative of Eileen’s to finish the upstairs bathroom and roof the area over the kitchen. Nick, I totally agree about discovering history and culture when traveling. I actually experienced New York City that way as well.

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