Questions About From Goods to a Good Life

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4 Responses

  1. Frank Pasquale says:

    I think the book responds to your concern for “going with the flow” on p. 9, where it says “the rise of participatory culture does not mean that we should reorient law to promote it. There are certainly normative benefits to stable cultural meaning and authority.”

    But I completely agree regarding the need for (at least some theorists of) IP law to make the case that “some forms of culture really were just better.” I make that case with respect to books and art, as opposed to fashion, here:

  2. A.J. Sutter says:

    Frank: Maybe I’m being a little positivist here, but why should it be up to law to make a case about some forms of culture being better? Ought law to be the repository of all norms in a society?

    But maybe the book echoes your sentiments a bit: in several places it mentions “talking back to,” or “contesting the authority” of, popular culture (e.g., @108). Maybe this means there are some forms of culture that should not be contested; though the book doesn’t describe how one draws the boundary between what’t popular and what’s not.

    OTOH, the book does claim (@55), “As Walter Benjamin later observed, mechanical reproduction or copies demystify the mystique of the original, allowing more democratic access to knowledge.” So perhaps the book doesn’t intend for any form of culture to be safe from that great equalizer, the guillotine. I must confess, though, that I didn’t recall this message being in Benjamin’s “Work of Art…” essay at all; nor was I able to find a reference to demystification or democracy in any of several versions of it in German or English, other than an interesting but irrelevant footnote discussing the impact of technology on parliamentary democracy (numbered 20 in the 1955 Gesammelte Schriften and the Suhrkamp Taschenbuch edition of Illuminationen, but numbered 19 in my edition suhrkamp #28 copy from the 1970s).

  3. Mike Madison says:

    A.J.: I noticed that characterization of Benjamin’s work, and like you I puzzled a bit over it. I have long understood that Benjamin was critical of the challenge that mechanical copying posed to the “aura” of unique originals. One might equate dissipating an “aura” with “demystifying,” but I would still understand Benjamin to be critical, not celebratory.

  4. A.J. Sutter says:

    Mike: Thanks — that was my take on him, too.