Why do it? I keep thinking about the differences in how people account for value. One dichotomy that comes up is people that want to talk and think about other people, and people that want to talk and think about ideas, without reference to people.
I remember once, on a trip to Italy, I was with a group that had hired a local guide. While the group was taking pictures of themselves and other people in the group, I was mostly taking pictures of the architecture, the sculpture, the paintings and so forth. Generally, I was not taking pictures of people. The guide stopped me and said something like, “If you were to come back, years from now, many of these things will still be here, but the people won’t be.”
He was right. I’ll probably never have that opportunity to take a trip like that with my dad again. This is true of everything, the moment will never return. It’s a variation on the theory of visitors.
It goes deeper than that, though. There’s the phrase: there are people that know the price of everything and the value of nothing. There’s a certain kind of cook who thinks it is a greater virtue to get the best price on ingredients or use all of something rather than have waste than to make food that tastes good and that people will enjoy. We do not live with such scarcity that we need to maximize calories per dollar. Yet, some people insist on it.
Culturally, you can see these kinds of values as well. For example, I make certain recipes, such as spiced maple caramels, caramel-filled butter pecan cake, idli, bread cooked in the kubaneh-style, home-made chili pickles, etc. The maple syrup in the spiced maple caramels alone would make it difficult to sell the caramels at a profit, particularly if much cheaper substitutes will be had. But, most people have never eaten anything like them.
The caramel cake takes about 6 hours to make. Idli requires at least two days of fermentation to develop interesting flavors. Bread cooked in the kubaneh style is slow cooked over 8-12 hours. Chilies can take months, even years, to fully pickle.
Some products that take a long time can make a profit. There are +20 year old ports, cheeses decades old, and so forth. But, I wonder how much is lost in a world that cannot afford to wait, that is more concerned about turning over the product and selling it than the quality, or uniqueness of the product itself.
When you start looking, you can see this everywhere. in cryptocurrency circles, people ask why the price isn’t going up, as if a cryptocurrency developed on a time line of a few years is going to generate value that quickly.
But, it seems the environment has us looking for profit. We know the price of everything and know the value of nothing. And, there is much that has value that is discarded, out of hand. Beauty, value and everything else being in the eye of the beholder.