Louis Menand, who is a kinda interesting guy, reviews James English’s The Economy of Prestige for The New Yorker this week. I don’t have the English book, but I’m tempted to get it. I like the thesis that English apparently expounds, and Menand comments on, about awards being part of the ‘reputation economy’. He talk about the Nobel committee overlooking Tolstoy and such, and along the way gets into the notion that it’s not about the rightness or accuracy of the result of an award (which is pretty much nonsense, though nice), but the part it plays in the reputation economy (or the economy of prestige).
This came back to me when reading the discussion of the Aurealis Awards on Ben Peek’s journal. Ben seems like a good guy, and everyone posting to the thread has worthwhile stuff to say. What none of them get to though is that none of it really matters. There is no such thing as ‘fair’, ‘open’, or ‘correct’ with awards. They’re just awards. Every award – every single one – is flawed, and probably every single awards-decision is flawed in some way or other. The only thing you can do is be happy and gracious when you get one, and applaud the winner when you don’t. It’s all good.