My flamingo? Jeff's flamingo? To whom does this flamingo belong? Can I give what I don't own? If I keep it, have I "borrowed" it, liberated it, (mis)appropriated it, mastered it, made it my own, killed it, or stolen it? Who will lay down the property laws of its transmissions and transactions? Locke, Borges, Malinowski, Lewis Hyde? In its journey will it define a Community of Fools? I will do my best.
Handmeon, purely as a distribution network, bodes as well for lawn jockeys as it does for anything else. You can turn any object into a Handmeon, as they say. That's the effect of privileging the form - the gift - over the content, eh?
Posted by: sa'luk | December 03, 2007 at 11:20 PM
Right, anything can be currency. A child might give her mother a dandelion. Anything can be a gift. The key is whether the gift is reciprocated or passed on. Do gifts return or not? And if so through what circuitous set of exchanges? Link love in blogging is not much different.
Posted by: Phil | December 04, 2007 at 08:43 AM
What goes around, comes around, I guess. Within certain giving circles gifts may pass, which from the perspectives of other giving circles, may be considered abhorrent - abhorrent not aesthetically - the mode in which objects are prone to be interpreted - but as... you know. It's pretty easy to fill in the blanks here, right? You don't have to resort to an example right out of Godwin's Law. Handmeon, while presenting itself, by its nature, as a social good, sort of blissfully privileges "taste" or an perhaps an ironic relation to "taste" (flamingos) over other considerations, right? Its creators assume that its users will be a lot like them and would only gift appropriate parameters of that assumption (or perhaps a violation of that assumption is only imagined as a pleasant surprise). With that presupposition in place, they can get down to the projectively lucrative work, worry-free, of building a framework to support a mere 'form of giving' which actually lends itself to any use, like for the exchange of Maltese Crosses or Lawn Jockeys or, in the aboriginal example of reciprocal trade, the heart of your enemy. I dunno. I haven't looked too close. I'm probably wrong.
Posted by: Sa'luk | December 04, 2007 at 09:47 PM
All it comes down to is you get stickers for a small cost, stick them on an item, send it to a friend. Then you post a picture of the item and say a little about it. Your friend says a little about it. At some point the friend passes it to another friend. The model is the movement of the gift as described by Malinowski in pre-capitalist societies. The movement of the gift defines an intact community. Gift communities are legion. Some you might aspire to, others you might abhor. Nothing to prevent you sending a Lawn Jockey to Rush Limbaugh. You add the sticker and send it along. You could send any item to anybody. Sure, any community will have tacit standards, but once you got those stickers you can send whatever to whomever. In fact you could do it without a sticker. Just give for the heck of it and see what comes back to you, if anything.
Posted by: Phil | December 04, 2007 at 10:20 PM
That's not good enough.
Posted by: sa'luk | December 04, 2007 at 10:46 PM
Good enough for what?
Posted by: Phil | December 04, 2007 at 10:48 PM
Who knows, you might get a flamingo by Parcel Post one of these days soon. Then what? Your problem, not mine. Send me a kayak. Give the flamingo to a homeless person. It is up to you.
Posted by: Phil | December 04, 2007 at 10:51 PM
Sa'luk - Your points are well taken.
There are risks inherent in an open system. Democracy being a good example. What if the people democratically choose tyranny, oppression, or worse?
No social act is ever truly 'open' or 'democratic'. Inclusion is always a relative term and inevitably contains an implicit exclusion that may be sinister or injurious.
Posted by: Jeff | December 06, 2007 at 03:06 PM
My guess is that Saluk is reading the gifts on the site as socially saturated artefacts and signs of a particular cultural stratum. He is reacting against that as claustrophobic, as in effect, preppy. My point is that anyone can give anything, whether a beer mug, flamingo, fishing rod, or chip of the true cross.
Posted by: phil | December 06, 2007 at 03:20 PM
Phil - I understood that and my second remark was intended to recognize its validity - without offering either an apology or a defense for a situation that is quite simply inescapable.
Posted by: Jeff | December 06, 2007 at 07:12 PM
Right, and it fits too. The point of a giving community, or Kula, is to create, maintain and celebrate inclusion/exclusion in the group. Shared gifts, shared taste, shared customs, traditions, beliefs, etc. Where there is an in group there is an out group or two. Saluk's view may be different when he gets the brass bird. Unless, Jeff, you have an albatross in inventory?
Posted by: Phil | December 06, 2007 at 07:16 PM
somebody's flippin' sa'luk the brass bird? better the bird than the knuckles i always say.
(down kitty down!)
Posted by: archy | December 07, 2007 at 07:45 AM
Yes, will he have the courage of his own convictions and toss the bird into the Dumpster, where some would say it belongs? If so, will some homeless person retrieve it, pawn it? And will it be purchased by some poor student who notices the sticker, logs into handmeon and discovers the bird's noble pedigree?
Posted by: Phil | December 07, 2007 at 09:57 AM
I've read that one third of our copper is in landfills, another third is in use and the last third is still in the ground. Unless we start adding more thirds we will be finding more that brass birds in the dumpster.
Posted by: Gerry | December 07, 2007 at 01:25 PM
the gifts of mother earth.
Posted by: Phil | December 07, 2007 at 01:45 PM
Fortunately, due to the oligodynamic properties of brass, a single flamingo should suffice to cleanse the entire population of an excessive attachment to material goods. But just in case, I bought two on ebay and I am holding the second in reserve...
Posted by: Jeff | December 07, 2007 at 01:57 PM
The poisoned gift? Like eve's apple?
Posted by: Phil | December 07, 2007 at 02:05 PM