Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Gift

There are those who do not survive change. It is as if human beings were like that subclass of insect, the Metabola, which must undergo complete metamorphosis from egg, through larva and pulpa, to imago. In some way the fluidity of gift exchange assures the successful metamorphosis. Woody Allen used to tell a joke at the end of his stand-up routine: he would take a watch from his pocket, check the time, and then say, “It’s an old family heirloom [Pause] My grandfather sold it to me on his deathbed.” The joke works because market exchange will always seem inappropriate on the threshold. There is a discrete range of conditions that will assure the emergence of the imago. A man who would buy and sell at a moment of change is one who cannot or will not give up, and if the passage is inevitable, he will be torn apart. He will become one of the done-for dead who truly die. Threshold gifts protect us from such death.
--Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property


Remy said...

Also worth reading is his A Trickster Makes This World.

Anonymous said...

Today, Ken Heffner commented about an important market-exchange in-transition. This is slightly "off-topic" but you should know that our friend Jeff Rioux did not survive "change" at Messiah College. A few weeks ago Messiah layed-off a leader among Christians engaging pop-culture who changed the institution for the better. Having worked in various capacities here for 15 years, Jeff was a pioneer in coordinating Messiah's community service/service-learning and his work with the Student Activities Board revolutionized Messiah from a school that brought in "Christian" bands and "wholesome" films to a school that critically engaged the best that the world had to offer in both areas. Jeff is not a big personality kind of guy, but he changed the game from behind the scenes. This is a less-interesting thing to say, but sometimes the market exchanges that indicate our tenacious desire to survive also indicate a insipid fear that survival is only possible if we castrate ourselves (perhaps a helpful treatment for testicular cancer, but not fear).
Jeff Rioux was a thoughtful, compassionate, humble and quiet Christian leader with the kind of balls that Messiah needs/needed.
Since we don't have them here anymore, I will comment anonymously, but please do what you can to promote Jeff and his expertise. Maybe you could interview him for the blog.

jdaviddark said...

Thanks for this, Anonymous. Jeff and I are good friends, and we've been in contact since the bad news came down. I mean to lift his voice any way I can. If you get to an interview-type exchange (video?) before I do, lemme know and I'll embed it or cut and paste and talk it up profusely.
All the best,