An article I wrote about the first time I went to Burning Man is on Travel Generation today. In it, I talk about how the festival operates on a gift economy. The gifts I took that year were button badges. There were 18 designs in all, six of which are above.
I have been thinking a lot about gifting. I disagree with Derrida's claim that the gift is impossible since, from the moment you receive it, it becomes weighted with obligation and no longer qualifies as a pure present. But I agree with Marcel Mauss's argument that solidarity is achieved through the social bonds created by gift exchange.
On Monday I left the house on three different occasions and each time I came back someone had left a gift near the front door.
I mentioned to my friend Jo that I was looking for a recipe for pickling cucumbers as all our plants have fruited at once. She left three cook books with pickling recipes bookmarked, O left a stack of gleaned pears and Chris gave me a betting ticket for a horse called Good Red.
It's like when people ask me what I do for a living, I ask them if they mean for money or not. I operate within a capitalist template – I have a mortgage and bills to pay – but I exist within a gift economy where I care more about the exchange than my change.