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Postmodern Village
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On Art and Worth
by Lael Ewy

This is what I’m awfully sure of: that somewhere, somehow, someone is paying for art. It disturbs me in the same way that putting coins into a slot to get a Coke does.

Real Work = Symbolism

Symbolism = Real Goods.

A Coke can you can hold in your hands, caress its cool, slick aluminum surface, can as can.

A symbol you can’t, but that coin you can. Each one is worth less than the tabs you punch out of electrical boxes to string the wires through. Paper is worth less than that: a cat’s hair, an old rag, a lost tooth. But then, the miracle begins and it’s invested with power. All then hail the money which transubstantiates from cotton into blood coursing, green and noble through every artery we own.

Art is not a miracle. It isn’t symbol except in what it says--what it does is less than the resistor in your car stereo dissipating charge as heat.

It uses symbol; it is not used up.

It is symbol folded back on itself and anything else we make of it is money.
Any other value we place on it is money, this symbol we share like disease, shrinking us from art’s cool immersion, from the feeling of the slick skin of that Coke can, from putting it on and wearing it like a second mother.

Maybe you own some art.

That is a sin, like owning your own mother.