Written by Amy X. Wang
First seen on The New York Times
Can you tell the difference between a $10,000 Chanel bag and a $200 knockoff? Almost nobody can, and it’s turning luxury fashion upside down.
Once upon a time, the legend goes, Theseus slew the Minotaur and sailed triumphantly home to Athens on a wooden ship. The vessel was preserved by Athenian citizens, who continually replaced its rotting planks with strong, fresh timber so a pilgrimage to Delos could be made each year in their hero’s name. Fascinated by this mythical tale, the philosopher Plutarch found it to embody a “logical question of things that grow”: After Theseus’s ship had been stripped of all its original material, could it still be considered the same ship? His question has caromed through centuries of Western thought. What if, Thomas Hobbes wondered, someone rustled up a second boat out of the discarded planks; would you now have two original vessels? And what about our own era of machine-made duplication — does replication strip away the soul of creation?