Thanks Howard. Hyde is a major inspiration (you are too!). I don’t know anything about Japanese gift culture - I must look into it. Being an NZ native I’ve always been fascinated by Maori gift culture, and the cultures of the South Pacific. I am currently learning as much as I can about traditional Chinese and African variants.
Given the prevalence of gifting in other cultures, and the blindness of Westerners to the same, I am convinced that we have a cultural impediment to appreciating the gifting-reputation dynamic. I suspect it is the Christian idea of the ‘pure gift’. Do you think this leads us to see reputation-based gifting as sullied by selfishness? The problem, of course, is that the element of egoism (the chiefly struggle for status and prestige) is what drives the gift economies of the non-western world. It is a real conundrum. Somehow we need to see beyond the idea of the selfless gift to appreciate the exchange dynamics of the social systems that we are already part of.