Writing and selling books - the advocation of silence?

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« on: June 02, 2013, 12:35:35 am »
Quote from: Callan S.
It sometimes strikes me, to make money from selling books, well, you essentially have to have a bunch of people who do not write?

I mean, what's the point if in, say, a sample size of 200, if they all wrote a book and then bought one other persons book - no one would make any money. It'd be zero sum.

But if only one person writes a book and 200 buy it, that's profitable.

But that requires people who don't write/don't sell books.

So what is it when you sell books?

An advocation of silence...for your own financial benefit?

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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2013, 12:35:43 am »
Quote from: Meyna
This is an interesting economics thought-experiment. You could replace "writing" with any luxury good and the experiment holds. Normally, if I sell a product, a certain percentage of that would go towards the raw materials or the publishers or whatever. If everyone writes, though, that money that doesn't contribute to my profit will go to others who also happen to be writing. Anyway, money is just a way of keeping track of things. It isn't real. If a society exists where everyone can write and still survive, then the economy itself will cater to that lifestyle. If not (like ours), then the lower tier of writers will have to do something else lest they perish.

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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2013, 12:35:51 am »
Quote from: Madness
Value is a thing, though, right?

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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2013, 12:35:59 am »
Quote from: Callan S.
Hi Meyna,

It's just that not everyone has an inclination to build furniture. But everyone does have an inclination to speak.

Quote
If a society exists where everyone can write and still survive, then the economy itself will cater to that lifestyle. If not (like ours), then the lower tier of writers will have to do something else lest they perish.
Well, perhaps such an advocation for silence is embeded in a moneytary structure like ours - but really it depends - if someone advocates for that silence and thinks it's a good thing (when it works out for them), is it really the system forcing that hand to work that way? Or do they like it?


Hi Mike,

Are you refering to Meyna's 'money isn't real' comment?

I'd say more like desperation is a thing. To drift off topic a bit, I'd say money isn't the real currency involved at all. It's more like a bandaid for the real currency involved.

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« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2013, 12:36:06 am »
Quote from: Madness
What did you mean to communicate when you wrote:

Quote from: Callan S.
To drift off topic a bit, I'd say money isn't the real currency involved at all. It's more like a bandaid for the real currency involved.

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« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2013, 12:36:20 am »
Quote from: Meyna
The real currency is the production potential of the society in question, and money is a way to keep track of things -- in theory, at least. Things like loans complicate matters, not to mention the inherent messiness of putting a concept like this into practice. Madness, value does count, but it is quite subjective and liable to oscillate due to cultural trends.

The history of currency and markets has a lot of depth to it, and it can be a very interesting subject.

Back to the issue at hand. Speaking (and by extension, writing) is as human a characteristic as it gets. For the sake of argument, let's assume that every human in a particular society, society x, wants to speak and to be heard. Like our society, society x is one of specialists, that is, they acquire their needs of food and water indirectly by contributing something else to the community in exchange for these needs, using money as the mediator (and "potential" budget). As long as enough food and water is produced for the community, it doesn't really matter what these specialists do. As long as society x places high value in writing and speaking, the community will tolerate 100% of their specialists engaging in such ventures.

In cases where it's not tolerated, then that silence is imposed either implicitly or explicitly, yes. It's not really the system that demands this; rather, it has to do with whether the society in question has developed in a way that tolerates it.

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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2013, 12:36:27 am »
Quote from: Callan S.
For myself, I say desperation is the key currency. We have the all too normalised idea of governments (the descendants of english war lords, for us in the west) saying they own land.

Just an amazing fiction. I mean never mind people who go on about the idea that conciousness is illusory and all that complicated stuff, when we leave such a simplistic illusion intact! No one owns land! The idea of owning land or anything is just a made up concept.

Sometimes that idea can stop us from taking all the life giving resources from someone. But ironically that idea can also be used to take away life giving resources from someone as well. Ie, the government says it owns all the land and if you want to live on it, you have to buy it, or pay rent to someone for it, or be moved on by the person who did buy it or rents it, who directs a gang in blue to assist you in your moving on.

Who has the capacity to opt out of the system when all land is 'owned'? You can't just plan to leave the system by growing all your own food. Land tax, mah friend, land tax!

You are put in a desperate position.

And this is what underwrites money.


Meyna,
Quote
Like our society, society x is one of specialists, that is, they acquire their needs of food and water indirectly by contributing something else to the community in exchange for these needs, using money as the mediator (and "potential" budget). As long as enough food and water is produced for the community, it doesn't really matter what these specialists do. As long as society x places high value in writing and speaking, the community will tolerate...
Eh, you mentioned money as the mediator before - how is this an example of tolerance?

If the community produced extra food (and shelter) that anyone could take, and some dudes did so they could write lots and everyone went 'yep, working as intended', I'd call that tolerance.

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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2013, 12:36:35 am »
Quote from: Meyna
Tolerance and value are intertwined, in this case. If the perceived value of the products of the specialists is high, then the community will have no issue with giving away any extra food and water (and shelter, indeed) to support them. If the value is low, then, even if there are extra resources to go around, the community might not be so thrilled to give them away. They might even say "do something that we value more, or get back to producing needs."

Money isn't exactly required in any of these cases, though it is far easier to trade dollars for eggs instead of going through a trading chain because the egg person only wants to trade milk for their eggs and you only have wheat to start with.

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« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2013, 12:36:42 am »
Quote from: Madness
This conversation should probably invoke Marx at some point.

Anyone who's played Settlers of Catan knows acutely the stagnation of lacking valued items of trade in a barter society. You can't build houses or roads without wood or brick, no matter how much wheat you reap.

I apologize to both of you, as you seem to be understanding each other without trouble but to summarize and express my confusion: Doesn't value, culturally and socially embodied, determine the conception of economy? Or is it rather my interpretation of scarcity, what I think Callan means by desperation, distinguish an economic system?

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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2013, 12:36:50 am »
Quote from: Meyna
There is scarcity of needs (or perceived needs) and scarcity of luxuries. I think the idea that Callan is putting forth hinges on how much the society in question values writing. The fact that we are considering writing adds a hidden layer of complexity, though, because though it is not a necessity per se, it is intimately tied to our nature as an extension of language (there are cultures without writing, but bear with me).

I think I am coming to understand what you are trying to say, Madness. Consider this, though: what is originally valuable to an emerging society will determine the initial economy, I agree. However, as the society grows and evolves, certain aspects of the economy might linger simply because of the natural resistance to change. The members of the society might unknowingly cling to certain attributes of the economic system even though they may not serve any purpose or indeed might even hinder the rise of what comes to be seen as valuable in the future. What happens in Callan's proposed situation, though, where a society reaches oversaturation or post-scarcity of something (in this case, writing) that is a cultural need but not a biological luxury?

After all of this pondering, I think that I would have to agree, Callan, with your initial thesis: in our society, specialists who take up writing as a profession depend on there being a niche to fill that is not full to the brim with other writers. On the other hand, there is another aspect to this that I can't figure out, though. Why limit it to only writing? Take your original 200 sample pool. What if 100 of them write a book, and the other 100 make ceramic bowls. The writers depend on buyers for their craft just as much as the ceramicists do. You could have 200 specialists with 200 different crafts and still be left with the same situation. They all depend on acquiring the needs of survival through their craft.

I do believe I am rambling at this point, though, so I will leave it at that for now :lol:

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« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2013, 12:36:58 am »
Quote from: Callan S.
Quote from: Meyna
Tolerance and value are intertwined, in this case. If the perceived value of the products of the specialists is high, then the community will have no issue with giving away any extra food and water (and shelter, indeed) to support them. If the value is low, then, even if there are extra resources to go around, the community might not be so thrilled to give them away. They might even say "do something that we value more, or get back to producing needs."
I wouldn't call this tolerance. I'd call it the start of demand, yes, but demand for flattery. This isn't tolerance - it's a kind of 'do I look fat in this dress?' prompt.

Of course the idea behind tenure was pretty much like I was talking about - you get resources regardless of what you write. But that idea apparently has been been twisted. Though I'd blame it not being not even a little lottery based and instead more human decision based (so more 'do I look fat' questions snuck in, just in a more scarfy academic way).

I cross posted with you, so the above might be a few seconds out of date (!). I'll go onto one of your paragraphs
Quote
After all of this pondering, I think that I would have to agree, Callan, with your initial thesis: in our society, specialists who take up writing as a profession depend on there being a niche to fill that is not full to the brim with other writers. On the other hand, there is another aspect to this that I can't figure out, though. Why limit it to only writing? Take your original 200 sample pool. What if 100 of them write a book, and the other 100 make ceramic bowls. The writers depend on buyers for their craft just as much as the ceramicists do. You could have 200 specialists with 200 different crafts and still be left with the same situation. They all depend on acquiring the needs of survival through their craft.
The thing with bowls is that if you can make them yourself, you can use them yourself.

So it's not dictating no one else should make bowls.

But with writing - well, unless you intend to only ever read it yourself (I believe an american poetess like that was mentioned on TPB at one point, given she ordered her writings destroyed at her death (but failed to specify every box of her writings!)), then you expect others to read it - if that's for money, well, then either you're advocating a pointless zero sum game, or advocating that others remain silent!

You might have been talking about material goods saturating a market - it's an issue, but it's another issue in regards to how naturally occuring desperation ('we have no plates to eat from'), rather like a natural resource, rapidly runs out and so can't be used to sustain an economy. Thus artificial, man made desperation begins to be heavily relied upon and new exertions of it invented. Since rich men wouldn't be rich for much longer (well, actually probably for the rest of their life time, but not as rich and their discendants might not live like princes...) if we didn't keep it going.

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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2013, 12:37:06 am »
Quote from: Callan S.
Quote from: Madness
Or is it rather my interpretation of scarcity, what I think Callan means by desperation, distinguish an economic system?
That's where my chips/my bet is placed.