So I was talking to a friend today about the organic nature of a marketplace. I was reminded of the joy of purchasing something from its creator when I bought a hardcover comic from David Mack at WonderCon last weekend. In the moment that I bought Scarab, I was ensuring that an artist was being paid a fair wage for his work. I wasn’t ordering it online or paying sales tax–this was it: money for product, no middle man. It was also enjoyable to talk with him about his work before purchasing it, because it gave the experience an added sense of authenticity. And in all honesty, how often can we have these direct experiences?
I would suggest that you could almost count them on the fingers of one hand: WonderCon, Renaissance Faire, (perhaps the Dickens Faire, although I’ve not yet been, but they share some vendors with RenFaire), a Farmer’s Market (as my friend suggested), and _________? Short of traveling to specific countries where people actually bring items to trade, there are very few occasions for this in American society. It really saddens me. I get so much out of an author signing his/her work for me, and talking with him/her about it, or meeting an actor and asking him/her a question while the person signs a photo. There’s a sense of recognition for the work done, along with the fee paid for it. Not that you can really slap a price tag on quality art or the performance of it, but still. There’s also an unremitting honesty in it–you’re entering into an agreement (although there may be some bargaining, but regardless), once the price is reached, you’ll deliver in order to receive. I think that we would all gain so much from that kind of interaction on a more regular basis. My friend suggested that you could feel better going to a Farmer’s Market because you were supporting a local industry, and you knew from where your edibles had originated.
So where does that leave our society? There are so many meetings today behind closed doors, so much business done in secret. Wouldn’t our society be far better off if we conducted things more openly? More town meetings, more opportunities to contribute to the greater good? Just a thought.