You wake up some random morning during a global pandemic, and nearly everything in your newsfeed is about bitcoin, blockchain, and NFTs. It is bewildering, because huge swaths of what are usually culturally intelligent people seem to be going all in on this phenomenon. Personally, I have no real interest in understanding it more than the 3 to 5 articles I’ve read: it more feels like a professional responsibility to know a wee bit better, since several people already have pushed and lobbied our community to become involved in this brave new world, by accepting blockchain donations for the Zen Center in the future. So I should at least have at least an elementary school-level understanding.
Just a few basic principles of this new thought-form are sufficient to comprehend, like having the most general, ground-level idea of how this heavy airplane gets up into the air from a running position. Just that. Yet try though I did to detect even some tiny morsel of comprehension, until somehow my teeth couldn’t detect anything substantial worth using precious mental bandwidth to need knowing. The whole thing seemed shockingly insubstantial, devoid of meaning, merely a cheap barter-culture of no True Self.
Yet I have artist friends who are beginning to sell their works as NFTs. One of the artists, Matt Semke, is one of the most dedicated artists I have heard of: he has produced a singular and unique piece of consistently intelligent artwork every single day for the last six years. Without a single break. And his works are philosophical, comical, whimsical, satirical, innocent and naïve. As commentaries on the human spirit they are serious work, and he would deserve anything he could get for them, since he has done it for free for six years, never charging for his extraordinary visual insights into the human condition.
Most of the stuff I have seen being written about has always struck me as being cheap and completely ungratifying in any way I had experienced art to be. Something of the strip mall in them — faceless, soulless, pure transactionality. It was just a whiff I had, but I’ve never had time or interest to look deeply into the nature of this cultural phenomenon.
This article put this entire new cultural phenomenon into perspective: it points to why I felt that whiff in the nose.
Here is the link to the article, which you should consult directly, especially for the informative links contained within.
For those who don’t mind seeing what confirmed my intuitions, they’re highlighted, below: