Are creativity and art products or works, or gifts? Is there always a fixed commercial value one can place on artistic inspiration and creativity? Lewis Hyde, in his seminal work — The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World — argues that we should “keep some parts of our social, cultural, and spiritual life out of the marketplace”. He believes that the rise of capitalism has brought great confusion to the economy of the creative spirit.
We have all been blessed with gifts. It’s human nature to want to share those gifts with others (and a complete waste of our gifts not to). The poet Walt Whitman made sure he gave back to the world that had enriched him artistically and spiritually, either in his poetry or through charitable works (teaching illiterate children to read and nursing Civil War soldiers). It’s also possible to destroy and de-value your own gifts. Salvador Dali famously signed thousands of blank sheets of paper, and the resulting forgeries sabotaged his own gift.
Christmas is imminent. The retail sector has been reminding us for months that we need to buy the perfect gifts for our friends and family, and many of us will be exchanging presents at family gatherings or parties with friends. We are all liable to forget what a gift really means — anything that is transferred to another person voluntarily and without compensation. In our modern society, bestowing gifts — gifts to which we have attached a monetary value — on those who do not reciprocate is practically unheard of.
It’s high time, we think, to restore the creative spirit to our capitalist-driven society, by refusing to attach a market value to everything we create. And so we have come up with Gift Day, a day where we make it a point to share our gifts with those around us.
When you register for Gift Day, you are making an explicit promise to share your gifts on 15 December. The first 100 people to register for Gift Day will also receive a copy of The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World. It will change your life.