Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I left a post on the site of a thoughtful guy I met at church recently, on the topic of value we assign to objects. The topic of his post was how much is paid for art, and what the inherent value of art might be. I wrote this:

Do material things (besides people) have inherent value? I think so. A thing of beauty should be valued in the sense of being esteemed, and a useful thing should be valued in the sense of not wasting it (such as food). But I am not sure about the use of the word "value" as an absolute category when describing the means to purchase something. Currency is something of a phantom, a little unreal.

A member of my extended family is ready for a total collapse of the economy, having a fair amount tucked away in specie (precious metal coins). In fact, I think he might actually long for a complete economic meltdown so that he can tender these coins!

Earnest Shackleton, whose ship was trapped in ice and led his men over land in their South Pole expedition, commanded the men to leave aside anything that wouldn't keep them alive. He added to the great heap of things to be left the gold sovereigns in his possession. But he picked up a volume of Browning, saying 'I throw away trash [gold sovereigns] and am rewarded with golden inspirations'.

Makes you want to read Browning, doesn't it?


Ran Barton said...
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Ran Barton said...

Hello, E.C. Have you read Endurance about Shackleton? Fabulous read.

Clifford Swartz said...

No, I haven't read it. But I take your recommendation as a spur to put it in my "to be read" pile/list. The closest I came was the Kenneth Branagh series. The reality of the book must be far better. Thanks for the tip.

I liked that photo of Shackleton because most of the others have him well groomed, with the middle part and greased hair. This seems to capture the difficult days on the ice.