RE: [OPE] intermission: value of knowledge

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Tue Nov 17 2009 - 05:02:07 EST

Paul C asked
> How many songs from the 1910s have you listened to.

I've listened to La Traviata, which is much older. OK, Abba is not Verdi,
but it does have a certain appeal, as Jurriaan and Jerry have explained, so
who knows how long their songs will last? Surely it will not depend on the
durability of media but on the popularity of the songs - for whatever

Yes, I was taking that into account. I meant how many of the record hits
Of the 1910s have survived as things that are popular and listened too?

Why do operas survive - because there is a large and very expensive input
of labour put into re-staging them. How many times have you listened to
arias from ARTAXERXES ?
It was staged for the first time in 150 years this year and the staging
was hampered by the partial destruction of the score.

Abbas music will only survive if labour is continually put into recreating it.

> Knowledge, we must remember, is not something imaterial,
> it is not 'ideas'. It is always embodied in a material carrier : books,
> records, or the far more perishable human brain. These
> embodyments do wear out, just like other means of production.
> Labour must be expended to maintain them, and in the absence
> of this maintainance it is lost.

I agree with Paul that knowledge is always embodied in material carriers;
yet it is not the same as those carriers. A song is something beyond a CD; a
novel is something beyond a book. That doesn't mean they are anything
'immaterial', only that their materiality encompasses more than just their
physical substrate.

We know that the carrier is not equivalent to the carried because, for
example, Ulysses is the same novel whether in hardback or in paperback. And
so I agree with Jerry that their values [if any] don't correspond.
The information content of a product is not the same as the product, so
the information content of different copies of Ulysses from the same print run
 is the same even though the books are physically different.

But the same can be said of many industrial products.

The information content of two ( you can have any colour you want so long
as it is black ) model T Fords was the same.
It was this information content that distinguished a Ford from a Buick.

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Received on Tue Nov 17 05:14:10 2009

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