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View Full Version : William Gibson's latest piece of writing is an ad



Willowmound
10-02-2009, 11:23 PM
Advertising for an object whose significance, apparently, is fiction.

Check it out. (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=250507743345#ht_500wt_1103) What do you think of that?

(And here's why. (http://significantobjects.com/about/))

JoNightshade
10-02-2009, 11:32 PM
I think it's silly. The significance is not in the fiction or the object, it's in the reputation of the author. If I wrote The Best Short Story Ever about my pencil and put it up for auction on eBay, nobody would buy it. If William Gibson did the same thing, he'd get some money. Because he's William Gibson. It's essentially like saying "Hi I'm famous give me some money for this meaningless object." And people will do it.

Willowmound
10-02-2009, 11:37 PM
That is their idea (http://significantobjects.com/about/).


A talented, creative writer invents a story about an object. Invested with new significance by this fiction, the object should — according to our hypothesis — acquire not merely subjective but objective value. How to test our theory? Via eBay!

Izz
10-02-2009, 11:50 PM
What a ridiculous concept. I sincerely hope it withers and dies.

But i thought that about Twitter too...

willietheshakes
10-03-2009, 12:26 AM
This is an interesting idea, especially in light of Pattern Recognition and its real-world repercussions (the creation of the clothing line, etc). Gibson's later work lends itself to this sort of intertextual play...

Matera the Mad
10-03-2009, 10:22 AM
As a concept...I have to say I get a kick out of it. There is something tingling in an old memory cell about this too, but I can't quite get a hold on it.

It is a close cousin of tie-in merchandising, but sort of a limited edition in reverse. Interesting.

benbradley
10-03-2009, 02:13 PM
That is their idea (http://significantobjects.com/about/).
My goodness, that red shield logo sure looks familiar (http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/).

Willowmound
10-03-2009, 06:56 PM
My goodness, that red shield logo sure looks familiar (http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/).

That was my first thought too.

I like this idea. It's somehow very Gibson, though I see from the list of contributors that he's pretty late to the party. I never heard of it until now.

Dawnstorm
10-03-2009, 07:39 PM
It appears Bruce Sterling (http://significantobjects.com/2009/07/31/metal-boot/) has sold his significant object for $ 86,-- making a profit of $ 83,--. :D

It's like mundane fictional relics. I wouldn't buy one, but the project's certainly interesting.

I laughed my ass off at this comment from the project description page (http://significantobjects.com/2009/07/05/about-the-significant-objects-project/):


This is a serious project!

But you’re missing a trick. You’ve just invented a new form of financial derivative — and now, more than ever, the world needs the Exotic Narrative Referent Vehicle to re-boot the ailing monetary system.

These new ENRVs could be bonds that hedge future drops/losses and differentials between the cash paid for the item and the symbolic value that the fictional narrative adds to the object-cost. They create surplus symbolic value (as conventional brands do) but act like quantum singularities (existing only for the brief flash of time wherein object, narrative, buyer and cash are uniquely unified before collapsing in on itself.)

Just to be on the safe side, get someone to insure the objects (and the words used from the English Language in the stories, and the hedges on the ENRV, either combined or separately) up to many multiples of their original value, and sub-divide that insurance block into multiple sub-sections that you can call ENRV Dominant Residuals.

Also insure both Linear and Cyclical Time. Trade in derivatives based on ever decreasing temporal halves that stretch towards the infinite — this will function as a hyper-exotic derivative of the collapsed moment in time-space that exists between buyer identifying with the narrative and the ultimate sense of remorse post-purchase. This gap will never be resolved and will be called the Xeno Half-Futures Option.

That way everybody gets a slice of this pie. Indeed, there will be far, far more slices than original pie. These complex vehicles will provide a near infinity of slices, all from a single pie.

It can’t fail, can it?

Willowmound
10-06-2009, 11:15 PM
Here's (http://significantobjects.com/2009/10/06/sea-captain-pipe-rest/) the latest offering, from writer Michael Atkinson, which I link to simply because his entire 289 word story is ONE SENTENCE...about a sailor with his bum in the air.

ChristineR
10-06-2009, 11:24 PM
There's a whole subset of e-bay where people auction objects with supposed supernatural powers. Often there's a whole interlocked story about, say, the werewolf gypsy princess or the New Orleans white witch madam. (I wish I'd made those up, but they're real examples.) To get the whole story, you read each of the item descriptions where you'll see what the supposed previous owner did with the items and how you can use their powers to help you. Eventually the creator auctions off the talisman that she was holding when she died, and moves onto to a different spiel; more junk. Quite a few of them appear to be magical money attracting artifacts as well.

Willowmound
10-06-2009, 11:32 PM
Your post is disappointingly link-free, Christine.

ChristineR
10-06-2009, 11:55 PM
The ones I mentioned are from a long time ago, I don't know if they're retrievable. But here's some from "Mrs. Rawnie, a real Romanian-Irish Gypsy Witch."

http://cgi.ebay.com/Haunted-Gypsy-Witch-Business-Success-Money-Key-SUPER_W0QQitemZ360193990881QQihZ023QQcategoryZ1025 14QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

I think this is the creator of the white witch madam and werewolf gypsy princess, though. ;)

http://cgi.ebay.com/HAUNTED-925-SILVER-AMETHYST-RING-DJINN-JINN-GENIE-WISH_W0QQitemZ370267722466QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_De faultDomain_0?hash=item5635ad12e2

Apparently she's now the exclusive outlet for Albina, who summons genies.

Willowmound
10-06-2009, 11:58 PM
That's hilarious! And no bids. That's pretty hilarious too.

benbradley
10-07-2009, 12:01 AM
How's this for a link: http://ebay.com

:)

Really, I searched for talisman, and the auction closing in ten minutes has lots of other 'good' keywords. Spell looks like another one. Oh, my, it looks like I can buy love and riches on eBay...

ETA: Okay, here's a few I found:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=310168476681
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150376648983
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=310168476681

ETA: The magic of HTML...

Willowmound
10-07-2009, 12:06 AM
I haven't been known to really frequent eBay until these past couple of days, and now I get some rather disturbing "recommendations based on the items you've viewed".

ChristineR
10-07-2009, 12:28 AM
The one I was originally thinking of was truly hilarious. It was "This is the (obviously modern) pen that she used to write her money spells. This is the (toy plastic) whip that she used to beat off the mob who wanted to burn her at the stake. This is the box where she mixed her love potions." She had whole complicated story lines for every flea market trinket.

geardrops
10-07-2009, 12:39 AM
Did anyone else catch this?


The winning bidder is mailed the significant object, along with a printout of the object’s fictional story. Net proceeds from the sale are given to the respective author. Authors retain all rights to their stories.

Unless I'm misunderstanding and what's posted on eBay is only a snippet of a much longer story -- aren't first electronic already consumed?

GraysonMoran
10-07-2009, 12:52 AM
I don't see what's so silly about this. It's an interesting art project in its own right. The whole interplay between signifcance and value gets respedt when some artists do it.
If anybody thinks it's about the money, I'd guess Gibson doesn't need the money. (Don't know why he was singled out from all the other artists involved in this project)

Is it weird to auction off a pair of sneakers whose only value is that they were worn by a famous actor in a scene from a movie? Would you pay $100 for the red shoes Dorothy wore in "Wizard of Oz"? Would you pay $1000, because maybe somebody else might pay more some day? That's called "an auction".

So this is silly and the piece if valueless because it appears in a story rather than a movie? Interesting attitude for writers to take.

I guess it takes a little imagination to "get it" on this. (A lot of really cool writers are involved in it and unless you want to try to tell yourself they're doing it for money, you might come to the conclusion that just have more imagination than you do. Could be why people might pay for a curio from their story, but not yours.)



This is an interesting idea, especially in light of Pattern Recognition

This guy got it. It's almost like something Gibson would have invented for that book or even Spook Country-- which has a theme of art made from flea market objects and the mania of collectors/dealers and provenance, by the way.

Izz
10-07-2009, 01:21 AM
Is it weird to auction off a pair of sneakers whose only value is that they were worn by a famous actor in a scene from a movie? imo, yes. But people collect these things, and i don't hold it against them.
Would you pay $100 for the red shoes Dorothy wore in "Wizard of Oz"? Would you pay $1000, because maybe somebody else might pay more some day? That's called "an auction".Nope. But people do, and i don't hold that against them. At least there is actual significance tied up with objects like those.


So this is silly and the piece if valueless because it appears in a story rather than a movie? Interesting attitude for writers to take.Perhaps it might mean more to me if it was an object that in some way inspired a best-selling story. But that's not what this is. This is getting an object of little to no value, writing a story about said object (Gibson's story is all of 500 words long) and then auctioning that object off. It's an attempt to artificially create a significant object. That's a little bit different from auctioning off a pair of shoes worn in a famous, award-winning movie, or from auctioning off something that was the inspiration for an award-winning novel.

The peeps running the experiment are quite happy to state it as such. And that's cool. It's their experiment, even if my gut reaction is that they're playing a practical joke that'll make them some money.


I guess it takes a little imagination to "get it" on this. (A lot of really cool writers are involved in it and unless you want to try to tell yourself they're doing it for money, you might come to the conclusion that just have more imagination than you do. Could be why people might pay for a curio from their story, but not yours.)Heheh--the typical 'if you don't like it you're obviously stupid/less enlightened/jealous' argument.


This guy got it. It's almost like something Gibson would have invented for that book or even Spook Country-- which has a theme of art made from flea market objects and the mania of collectors/dealers and provenance, by the way.But it's not. It's just an object that he was paired with (the about (http://significantobjects.com/about/) page says: "A participating writer is paired with an object. He or she then writes a fictional story, in any style or voice, about the object. Voila! An unremarkable, castoff thingamajig has suddenly become a “significant” object!")

So what i don't understand is how this becomes significant. It's not related to anything else a participating author has written (novels, shorts, screenplays, etc). They don't even get a choice of object, it appears. Like i said, this feels to me like a scheme to make money off of people's desire to own something touched by someone famous.

But i can imagine, in eighty years time, someone going onto Antiques Roadshow with the ashtray and story.

GraysonMoran
10-07-2009, 04:06 AM
Odd.
I used to have a used copy of a book about the Beats. I bought it for a couple of bucks in a thrift shop. I ran into Allen Ginsberg one time and got him to sign it. I sold it for two hunderd dollars.
Significance?

People pay to take tours of houses because writers lived in them, of buildings that inspired stories.

So why is a knick-knack that had a story written about it so weird.

I'll say this. If you've read the two Gibson books mentioned, you probably understand this. If not, you porbably will continue not to get it.

And, again, the idea that it's to "make money" is too bizarre to be taken seriously.


So what i don't understand is how this becomes significant.

That understanding, or groping towards it really, is what this is about. You see that, right? Right?
You'd go nuts around Catholics. They have shrines to stones that saints stepped on.

JoNightshade
10-07-2009, 04:19 AM
I don't think they're doing it for money. I still think it's idiotic. I think buying something from a movie or paying more for a signed book is idiotic, too.

And I'm pretty sure the authors are making fun of people who DO place significance on objects.

Am I the only one who can see the emperor has no clothes?

Izz
10-07-2009, 04:38 AM
Odd.
I used to have a used copy of a book about the Beats. I bought it for a couple of bucks in a thrift shop. I ran into Allen Ginsberg one time and got him to sign it. I sold it for two hunderd dollars.
Significance?You're missing my point. That was a published book, about something. So yeah, there's significance there. And it wasn't written for the sole purpose of Allen Ginsberg signing it and therefore making it valuable. The two coincided, in your case, which is cool, but coincidental is different from intentional.


So why is a knick-knack that had a story written about it so weird.This is about writers being given an object that means nothing and then attempting to make it significant (or about something) by means of churning out a random story. It's not taking something already written, or associated with something already written, and which therefore already has natural significance. This is pure invention.

If you can't see the difference between your example and this, then, well, what can i say?


I'll say this. If you've read the two Gibson books mentioned, you probably understand this. If not, you porbably will continue not to get it.This has nothing to do with Gibson. You even mention that in your initial post: "(Don't know why he was singled out from all the other artists involved in this project)". He was recruited, like all the other contributors mentioned on the page.

You're right, it's less about the money than it is a social experiment. I read the about page wrong and thought the people running the project kept the proceeds. So, yeah, that takes money out of the equation, which just leaves this:


And I'm pretty sure the authors are making fun of people who DO place significance on objects.

Am I the only one who can see the emperor has no clothes?This is really what i was trying to say with my last post, but didn't articulate at all well. It smacks of a way to make fun of people. 'Haha, you bought something completely worthless off me, aren't you stupid and gullible. I'm so much cleverer than you.'

Willowmound
10-09-2009, 03:12 PM
(Don't know why he was singled out from all the other artists involved in this project)

Because I follow his Twitter feed.

Willowmound
10-09-2009, 03:13 PM
Am I the only one who can see the emperor has no clothes?

I'm inclined to think you're seeing an emperor who isn't actually there.

willietheshakes
10-09-2009, 07:47 PM
This is about writers being given an object that means nothing and then attempting to make it significant (or about something) by means of churning out a random story. It's not taking something already written, or associated with something already written, and which therefore already has natural significance. This is pure invention.

You might want to re-read what you wrote, right here.

Because you've just precisely described the process that you're decrying.

Yes, this is about writers being given an object and attempting to imbue it with "significance".

What you overlook, in the last few lines of this paragraph, is that something "associated with something already written" means that it had to have something written about it in order to have significance: by your very reasoning, such an object DOESN'T have natural significance, it has significance BECAUSE it is "associated with something [already] written". So the writing to CREATE significance is a conscious action replicating (or parodying, depending on how you choose to look at it) what you have already observed.

Welcome to the game.

Izz
10-09-2009, 11:59 PM
You might want to re-read what you wrote, right here.

Because you've just precisely described the process that you're decrying.Yes, i did.


Yes, this is about writers being given an object and attempting to imbue it with "significance".

What you overlook, in the last few lines of this paragraph, is that something "associated with something already written" means that it had to have something written about it in order to have significance: by your very reasoning, such an object DOESN'T have natural significance, it has significance BECAUSE it is "associated with something [already] written".Yes, but it's the order of events i was talking about. Book is written, but not written with express purpose of someone famous signing it, but about a subject author is passionate about/enjoys/etc; book is published; later book comes in contact with a person associated with the events described in book; book is signed; book gains value. I can't see any artificial attempts to make the object significant. I can see coincidental actions that increase the significance of the book, and one might say getting a famous person to sign it is artificial, but it's also coincidental.

And what i said about an object that inspired a best seller having significance: that's also (in my mind, at least) a very different form of association than someone being given an object and told to write a tiny story about it. To me the latter form of association is forced, whereas the former (object inspiring best seller) is far more natural.

But hey, you might think differently and that's entirely fine. I have no issue with that. What i took exception to were statements made by a previous poster that implied that anyone who didn't think it was a great idea was 'lacking imagination' (and the statements surrounding that one) which is really a subtle way of saying 'you're either stupid or jealous.' So, stupidly perhaps :D, i decided to explain why i felt the way i did.


So the writing to CREATE significance is a conscious action replicating (or parodying, depending on how you choose to look at it) what you have already observed.

Welcome to the game.Which is pretty much the point i was making, along with the thought that i, personally, think it's a glorified prank.