— Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher, born May 5, 1813
Interesting word, commerce. It most obviously refers to trading goods and services. But it is quite often used in a more general, abstract sense. The “commerce of minds” Bachelard refers to is a far cry from what the United States Department of Commerce, much less a local Chamber of Commerce engages in. Although since one of the United States’s most lucrative and important industries is movies and television, maybe there’s not so much difference after all.
Ideas are refined and multiplied in the commerce of minds. In their splendor, images effect a very simple communion of souls.
- Gaston Bachelard
The Internet can be aptly be described as a “clearance sale” for the ideas of the ages. It’s pretty clear that nobody will pay much for any of them. On the other hand, Kierkegaard may have been overvaluing ideas: abundance does change everything. When ideas become so abundant, other factors of production become much more important: timeliness, execution, branding.
Not just in commerce but in the world of ideas too our age is putting on a veritable clearance sale. Everything can be had so dirt cheap that one begins to wonder whether in the end anyone will want to make a bid.
Bachelard is well worth looking up. The Poetics of Space is a wonderful meditation about buildings, places, and the minds that make and live in them.