Gardening Arcadia: racial and national identity at Sting’s The Lake House

Daniel R. Smith

I remember reading somewhere that the political economists of the nineteenth century, on whose reading we owe Marx’s labour theory of value, considered England as one big farm. While I forget who said this, the significance of the statement couldn’t be more telling of how we conceptualise ‘labour’ or human creative practices in general. When we are creating we are bringing something into being, but we are doing so from the raw materials we have been granted: on the one side is person, on the other the materials they builds their life out of, human species being as Marx liked to say. Going on this fashion, Marx writes:

“The taste of porridge does not tell us who grew the oats, and the process we have presented does not reveal the conditions under which it takes place, whether it is happening under the slave-owner’s brutal lash or the anxious eye of the capitalist.” (Marx, 1994:280)

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