The Pirate’s Prophet


 From The Nation:

The desire to preserve what remains apparently pure about the making of art in contemporary life drives much of the argumentation of Common as Air, which emerges over the course of its several hundred pages as a treatise on the uncertain fate of expressive work in a culture that celebrates creativity as a corporate value, treats “artisanal” as a euphemism for “expensive” and encourages every bird in the corporate troposphere to consider himself an artist. What Hyde offers in suggestive counterpoint is a double meditation on the work of art in an age of digital reproduction and the art of work in an era of consumer narcissism. Just as the printing boom of Restoration England generated a crisis of authorship amid debates over copyright, the consumer boom of the Internet era has produced a crisis of artistic status amid debates over intellectual property. A sense of threat to art’s elevated status is central to the strange yearning for free culture among those who should otherwise hope to make their living from their creative work, and to the unfortunate marriage between those writers and artists who claim to revere culture and those consumers, entrepreneurs and Internet absolutists who would like to liquidate it.

“The Pirate’s Prophet: On Lewis Hyde”, David Wallace-Wells, The Nation