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Gifts and Limitation

If there is a copy of The Wizard of Oz that my father read to me when I was a small boy and I give it to you it is a meaningful gift.

However an ebook of “The Wizard of Oz”, considering that the book is now in the public domain and anybody can download it, is not a meaningful gift.  Maybe my attention to you is the gift — my concern that you read something that you like.

The omnipresence of the book means the book itself can no longer be a gift.  This is a paradox because our richness impoverishes us of a possibility.  Once all books ever written are universally available through the cloud, it is no longer possible to give a book as a gift.

If you and I are standing in a lake of water can I reach down and make you a cup of water?  Maybe, but then the gift is my time and my attention — not the water.

This seems like a structural feature of gifts.  In a world of no limitation, a world of gods who can create anything and who live forever, it seems there could be no gifts.

Is it a structural feature of love as well?

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3 thoughts on “Gifts and Limitation

  1. Then maybe you have the gift of restriction – and maybe inside that, the gift of easing the (artificially instituted) restriction.

    Really though it seems a structural feature of us – an indicator of a savage, lurking pragmatism – kinda like plato’s cave and can’t see what casts the shadows, but were more at the speat tip of the pragmatism, so we can’t see the spear.

    Why does rarity/supply&demand have to matter?

  2. Mikey says:

    I feel this way about feasts. I generally eat so well that when Christmas comes round and I have turkey or Sunday comes round and I have a roast, it doesn’t feel like it’s any better than any of the other days. Because Thai curry or lasagne or whatever are all just as good. In the world of the rich, fasting is more gratifying than feasting.

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