Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Value of Worth

I went to eBay to learn the status of the Elvis rock pulled out of a Colorado river not too long ago. Supposedly, the rock was going to be auctioned off on August 10, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the King’s death. Believe it or not, I have never bought or sold anything on eBay, so I admit my rookie status, but I couldn’t find the Elvis rock. Since I was in the virtual auction house’s neighborhood, however, I decided to have a look around.

For you die-hard readers, you’ll remember my post about Deb Serio’s Jesus stain on her garage floor. Turns out someone bought the slab of concrete for $1,525.69, and now the item has been reposted. According to the auction page: “This auction is a partnership between the buyer (islandoffthecoast) and Deb Serio (nattysmom).” Together, the two of them form jesuspartners and they have started the bidding at $1,500, and you don’t even have to pay for the concrete to but cut out of the floor!

Of course, this is not the only opportunity on eBay to buy a seemingly mundane object made into something holy or distinct by a form that resembles Christ or Mary. Check out Jesus in this 400 million-year-old fossil, or here He is again in this burl wood a la Shroud of Turin, according to the seller. (Looks more like a Dr. Seuss character to me, but I looked at dirt on a watermelon and thought of William Blake. What do I know?) When you look at all of these auctions, however, none of them have any bids, including the new garage-floor stain.

Seems to me that value is not so much appraised by the accuracy of the visual manifestation or the source of the item, but rather how lathered up the press gets over it. The major selling point with the concrete slab is how many media hits the image received, and how many radio interviews Serio did (“over 17”). These other items, as far as I know, have never received any press coverage, and so they wallow away in obscurity. Nothing lost, but certainly nothing gained.

I imagine that will be the case with this eggplant. Preparing a Sunday supper of fried eggplant, Felicia Teske of Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, spotted the word “God” in this nightshade’s seeds. According to this WPVI report, Teske and her husband are contemplating selling the object, though I doubt the eggplant will keep for long enough to attract more press, unless it possesses some divine power of preservation like Diana Duyser’s Virgin Mary grilled cheese, which has not rotted after over a decade.

Lasting power, that’s the name of the game in this world, I suppose. Many of the events I blog about here don’t have much of it, they surface one day, get emailed around a bit and are then forgotten. But the media should not be the only determining factor. The same as it is the individual that first makes the discovery, happens to see the wood grain in the right light, it is the individual who can use these objects as points of entry into greater cultural issues. That’s what was so fun about writing Madonna of the Toast. I was able to track stories that, in certain cases, span decades, and that alone makes these happenings worthwhile, no matter what you do or don’t see.

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