The Gift Lewis Hyde Analysis

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I] Introduction

Lewis Hyde’s “The Gift”, subtitled “Creativity and the Artist in the modern world” is a deliberation – thesis, if you will - on the nature of the creative process; likening it to the principles of a gift economy and thereby highlighting the uneasy existence of creative labour and art in a modern world ruled by the ethos of capitalism.
Published in 1983, Hyde’s work is heavily influenced by that of the acclaimed sociologist Marcell Mauss according to whom gift economies are marked by circulation and connectivity: goods have value only insofar as they are treated as gifts, and gifts can remain gifts only if they are continually given away. This results in a kind of engine of community cohesion, in which objects create social,
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To explain the difference between a gift and market economy, we shall use the overarching example of the culture of the Native Indians against that of their White. Hyde identifies them as the “Indian giver” and the “white man keeper” (aka “capitalist”) respectively. This is based upon the Native’s cardinal understanding of the rules of gift giving, which are:-
1. A gift must always be in motion. As per the social anthropologist Wendy James’s words “One man’s gift shall not be another man’s capital”.
2. The gift is property that diminishes. Therefore, even when dealing with a tangible, non perishable good such as money, the Indian would prefer to share it amongst the tribe (as is in the case of money given during the marriage of a daughter, where the father would share that money amongst the tribe members as he cannot keep a gift given for his daughter, a child of God, for himself). The gift essentially perishes away for the
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The initial gift is the one bestowed upon him as his talent – his potential and desire to create art.
2. The second gift is him possessing the wherewithal and the ability to actually indulge in the creation process of the art.
3. The final gift is the fashioned work, for the world to see.
Therefore a work of art is a fruit of the creative spirit. The reproduced gift has the power to reproduce the same gifted state within the audience which is how the inner gift is passed along. And, while being personal in nature, its dignity is increased only when it is being shared with, communicated to a larger and larger audience – not unlike a gift within the community. It belongs to the Zoë life where art is the symbolization of the expression and speech by which the larger self communicates and articulates itself.
III] Analyzing the value of artistic production in the political economy
Using the philosophical framework of “The Gift” as our foundation, we will now look at the basic premise of the artist’s dilemma through a political economy
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