What is the value of creativity? Not in some artsy-fartsy, theoretical way, either: What’s it worth in dollars? That’s the question that the website Significant Objects explores. Its operators buy yard-sale trinkets—a Santa nutcracker, a toy hot dog, a Fred Flintstone Pez dispenser—and assign writers to compose short fictions about each.
Then—because the object has now been subjected to creativity and presumably has gained value—the item and story are auctioned on eBay. Proceeds go to the writers. While there are no Nobelists among the authors, some are not unknown to a hip readership: Claire Zulkey, Kurt Andersen, Lydia Millett, Matthew Sharpe. Several items have fetched just a few bucks. But a $2 smiling mug sold for $32.08 once a tale by Ben Greenman was attached. That’s value added in our book.