The Lady with the Flower: Amanda Palmer & The Art of Asking

AmandaPalmerJohn sent another one.
First a link. Then, a comment:

My first reaction to Amanda Palmer is one of, well, being repulsed. Her music is not something that I would seek out, nor is she someone to whom I would naturally pay particular attention. I know, my biases are showing… There is something about her and her expression(s) that feel(s) profane to me. It’s visceral….

…and yet, as I watched this, I found myself deeply touched by her story…. she seems genuine… she seems human and humane… Perhaps because I deeply desire to live in a society where we can truly trust one another, where judgments about our value as humans are based less in our ability to be economically productive and more on who we really are. I don’t know if this makes any sense or has value, but there it is.

I watched the video and, as I told John, it got me to thinking in so many directions I can’t even fathom it. And that’s without even hearing her music.

I suspect I will have to watch the video again and again to really capture what Ms. Palmer was trying to say.

One thing I know is that John’s reaction was very congruent with my own. Especially the qualities of genuineness, humanness, humaneness. John’s a huge idealist and that’s what draws me to him. As he says, Amanda Palmer is pretty profane. And yet…

Here are some quotes:

We would make an art of asking people to help us…

You’re falling into the audience and you’re trusting one another…

Guy in the opening band: It felt too much like begging…

I fought my way off my label… I turned to crowd funding. And I fell into those thousands of connections that I’d made and I asked my crowd to catch me…

When you connect with them, people want to help you…

Asking makes you vulnerable.

Lessons & questions

At least at first glance, her talk is almost a reductio ad absurdum of the free market.

Would the “honor system” work in selling, say, cars? (Would ANYone pay their fair share if you let them set the price?)

There are almost certainly going to be exploiters, people who will download her music, and keep downloading, and never pay. Not because they can’t, but because they don’t have to. From her perspective, it doesn’t matter because 1) karma will get them, and 2) other people will “overpay” and make up for the freeloaders. This model will work for many kinds of music and performers. But again, what about materially tangible, expensive-to-make products, like cars and houses? Or intangible, shared-risk products like insurance?

I think, even in a conventional free market, with property ownership and price tags and contracts, there are things we can learn from Ms. Palmer. I suspect there are more than a few managers in corporations big and small who could shock their employees to life with the kind of humanity Amanda Palmer shows through the simple offering of a flower.

“Human and humane.”

What a concept.


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