Project X: The Benefits of Reproduction

Brendan Koerner has a post today about the people of New Ireland who are debating whether they want their historical masks back–some aren’t sure they’d be able to preserve them–or if they’d like exact replicas. This is especially interesting to me because I’m at the point in Project X where a person with the horrible affliction’s daughter is like “Oh my god! Why was there only one of these books? Why did no one make a copy or seven?” Even if the one book were the only one with the magical powers, while it was missing, her family could have benefited from the copies.

And I do think it’s an interesting problem, especially once supernatural forces are in play. Is there some benefit to the original that wouldn’t be there in the copy? And sometimes, maybe, yes. Something is lost when you can’t have the thing your ancestor put together and put her own self into. But it’s hard for me to believe that if preservation and dissemination are important to a people now, that their ancestors wouldn’t also appreciate efforts at preservation and dissemination and find a way to be present, even in the fakes.

It’s interesting, anyway.