Thursday | Arbitrage


I spent the early morning hours reading a few articles on The Atlantic. The most interesting one was The Diminishing Returns of Having Good Taste, by W. David Marx.

In the past, tastemakers in the worlds of fashion, art, and music established careers through this sort of arbitrage—plucking interesting developments from subcultures to dangle as novelties in the mass market. [...] Arbitrageurs would then “cash in” by introducing these artifacts to mainstream audiences, which triggered broader imitation of things once considered niche. This helped accelerate the diffusion of information from the underground into the mainstream, not only providing sophisticated consumers with an exciting stream of unfamiliar ideas but also breathing new life into mass culture. The end result of this collision was cultural hybridization—the creation of new styles and forms.


But the internet’s sprawling databases, real-time social-media networks, and globe-spanning e-commerce platforms have made almost everything immediately searchable, knowable, or purchasable—curbing the social value of sharing new things. Cultural arbitrage now happens so frequently and rapidly as to be nearly undetectable, usually with no extraordinary profits going to those responsible for relaying the information. Moreover, the sheer speed of modern communication reduces how long any one piece of knowledge is valuable. This, in turn, devalues the acquisition and hoarding of knowledge as a whole, and fewer individuals can easily construct entire identities built on doing so.

Another example of living in the jackpot.

Top of mind:

I'm continuing to think about the effects of speech and writing on the body, which is a substance that experiences jouissance.

More specifically, I'm thinking a lot about how something that is satisfying can be drained of satisfaction if someone says something... Those moments when something is fun, enjoyable, interesting, satisfying, and so on, and then someone says something, or you read something and something changes.

Example: When I was younger, I would get very interested in something, a writer, a filmmaker, or a musician. This interest would be intense but short-lived because I'd quickly find something new to be interested in. I enjoyed this process a lot, but someone pointed out that when I told them about something they should check out, they usually did not because it was so easy for something to capture my attention. They went on to say they would probably check something out if it managed to hold my attention for longer if I were more committed to it .

That changed how I felt about my intense but fleeting attention pattern. It became less enjoyable to engage in this pattern.

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