Blog Posts

The Significant Objects Project: A “Pataphysical Science Experiment”

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Satire

Submitted by W.J. Elvin III:

One man’s trash is another man’s fictional treasure
by Carolyn Kellogg
July 13, 2009

flintstoneCan a good story make something more valuable? What if it’s entirely untrue? And what if the person telling the story — like, say, a novelist — is a kind of professional liar; does a professional lie give an object more value? And, hey, what if you could buy something like that on EBay?

When authors Rob Walker (Buying In“) and Joshua Glenn (“Taking Things Seriously“), each of whom is curious about the meaning and value we assign to objects, met in Boston earlier this year, they came up with the idea for the fiction-auction project Significant Objects. Well-known literary authors — including Luc Sante and Lydia Millet — write a short story that serves the description for a basically worthless object that is then auctioned on EBay. The first set of auctions has closed, and while the ending prices were all less than $30, Walker points out that with listing prices beginning as low as 29 cents, the final value increased by as much 4,000%.

Jacket Copy’s Carolyn Kellogg e-mailed co-editor Glenn and participating author Matthew Sharpe (“Jamestown“) about the project.

JC: Kurt Andersen’s story about an old Christmas nutcracker is the first so far to tie one of the objects (fictionally) to a celebrity. It’s also the first to get a bit dirty. Are either of those themes that you expected? (more…)