In my book Atlantic Afterlives I write on Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, about the moment when the man and boy discover a single undamaged can of coca cola. What stands out in this episode is the immense respect paid to the drink by the man when offering it to the boy. As far as they are concerned it is the only one in existence.
If the reliable supply of same or similar goods is itself a “good,” this serendipitous encounter with the one-off, or the last of its kind, seems to be beyond good or bad. This moment in which the serial existence of a mass-produced object reaches its limit might shed some light on the way unique, even handmade objects of art become endowed with lasting value.