Search This Blog

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Entreprenurial Analysis in Literature

By: Michael Richards

In continuing my thoughts on Troy Camplin's novel discovery on the profitability of artwork for its audience, I would like to continue on exploring the entrepreneurial character of the audience in how they judge quality and thus profit from art. According to Camplin, “Beautiful works are those which are complex...Something is complex if it appears simple but is, in fact difficult.”
I later commented Troy, who did a brilliant job expounding upon my thoughts, that it appeared that the individuals in the audience were really entrepreneurs who judge a piece of work hoping to obtain some profit from it. I will like to continue that not only are readers entrepreneurs, but judge works of art based on their entrepreneurial nature.
Entrepreneurs work in a world of uncertainty. What makes a work interesting to an audience is the uncertainty the viewer gets once he views the piece. In continuing Camplin's analysis of the beauty of art is found in its complexity, a work of art begins with a known, its seeming simplicity. What ends up drawing the audience member to the work is the fact that he begins to notice a web of uncertainty that surrounds this seemingly simple piece of art and begins to attempt to unravel it.
Entrepreneurs in the economy work in the same type of environment. Making a product is by far the easiest part of running a business. What the company actually does is the known from which all entrepreneurial activity starts. The part which generates profit and loss is the uncertainty of whether or not the consumer, with his subjective values, will decide to actually purchase the product. It is from this uncertainty that the entrepreneur speculates how to allocate those resources in the most profitable manner.
Literature works much in the same way as this process of dealing with uncertainty. A reader begins to read a story as he begins to wonder how the characters deals with situations that are unpredictable. What draws the audience into the work is how the characters handle the uncertainty and begin to attract themselves to different characters whom they value more highly than other characters. Basically, the more the reader is attracted to a character and the more uncertain the scenario the character is placed under, the more interested the reader will be in the story. If the reader is not feeling uncertain as to the fate of the characters, the story will become uninteresting.
For example, let's take the timeless hero, Superman and his weakness to the material, Kryptonite. Imagine if Superman did not have this weakness (or any other weakness for that matter). Any struggle Superman is placed in would become boring as he will always be declared the winner in the struggle regardless of who he is against. What makes the story of Superman so fascinating to its readers is not Superman's powers but the uncertainty of whether or not he will win in the face of his weaknesses.
Another aspect to this realm of uncertainty and the quality of art is the concept of means and ends. An entrepreneur employs means to achieve their ends. Now when it comes to making profit, the entrepreneur is never sure if his means will achieve his ends. However, he speculates that his ends are well worth the means, otherwise he would not act.
A reader looks at the ends that the artist is trying to achieve with his artwork. Literature once again shows this principle more clearly. After all, the reader will not enjoy the work of literature if he finds that the character's ends are not important or the means to attain those ends are certain. For example, Superman's ends are to save the day, but the uncertainty of his means are his weaknesses which the villain employs to stop him. Note that the reader is just as likely to judge the villain whom they don't like in the same way that they judge the hero in terms of the villain's importance to the story. Both protagonist and antagonist act and these actions are judged by the reader in terms of their uncertainty, their actions and their importance.

1 comment:

  1. Some good thoughts. One could expand this to consider which kind of entrepreneur one becomes on reading.

    The Krznerian entrepreneur -- the reader enjoys the work if he/she discovers opportunities in it, whether those opportunities are for personal growth, understanding, or inspiration to create more works themselves.

    The Schumpeterian Entrepreneur -- the reader enjoys the work of art if the work is disruptive to the reader, if it disturbs their equilibrium, a state which can, again, throw the reader into a creative space themselves.