The Fruits Our Labor Doth Yield

It may take months for a painter to finish a masterpiece. A similar amount of time may be invested in creating an album by a musician, or a great novel by a writer. And while the results of the following may vary depending on your particular tastes, tonight I ponder the results of that same amount of time spent by varying types of artists and the lasting endurance each medium brings to the consumer.

A painting, even a great painting, can be seen in an instant and certainly easily be digested in a matter of maybe 15 minutes. Sure, it can hang on a wall for centuries but after one looks at it, really looks at it, how often do you enjoy it in that same way again? Perhaps when friends come over and see it for the first time, but all in all, a painting becomes background relatively quickly after it has been hung.

A good novel lasts a few days, a week, maybe a month for those with more hectic schedules. Once a book is read, how often does a person reread the same book? Some folks, I know, read books over and over again but for most, I suspect, the year or so the author spent writing it will mean some amount of hours of actual reading time for his audience, yes lasting memories if it leaves an impression, but it will likely never be consumed again syllable by syllable from front to back.

An album though, can last a lifetime. If you love a record, you might listen to it every day for a month after first acquiring it, then often and on and on until you die.

I am in no way saying any particular type of production that I’ve listed above is better or worse than any other, but it’s interesting to think about. An album, something that will provide a lifetime of listening, only costs $10 these days. A book maybe $20. A painting will go for hundreds and hundreds, sometimes ridiculously more, though admittedly paintings are less reproducible than the other two mediums. I wonder how this value was established, considering the potential worth of all of the above mentioned.

The idea relates to purchasing digital music as well: a song on iTunes goes for $.99 and you can listen to it a million times before growing tired of it. A television show sells for $3 or $4 and maybe you’ll watch it a dozen times in as many years.

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