The art of consumption, Michel de Certeau (1984) tells us, is the "ancient art of 'making do'." De Certeau frequently adopts aesthetic metaphors in his discussion of the practices of everyday life, speaking of consumers as poets, comparing styles of consumption with literary styles, characterizing readers as writers. These analo-gies, like much of his evocative writing, are rhetorical flourishes. Yet, one can't help but wonder whether there isn't something more substantial to his talk of an aesthetics of appropriation, an art of "making do." De Certeau's emphasis upon the tactical nature of consumption and the nomadic character of the consumer's culture rejects investigation of the aesthetic dimensions of the reader's artifacts; the "marks of consumption" are "invisible" and transient, fluid and uncontainable, not open to direct examination or reproduction and hence, de Certeau's dependence upon metaphorical evocation rather than ethnographic documentation.
As this book has consistently demonstrated, however, fan culture is nomadic, ever-expanding, seemingly all-encompassing yet, at the same time, permanent, capable of maintaining strong traditions and creating enduring works. Fans are poachers who get to keep what they take and use their plundered goods as the foundations for the construction of an alternative cultural community. As chapter six's discussion of slash suggests, fan-generated texts cannot simply be interpreted as the material traces of interpretive acts but need to be understood within their own terms as cultural artifacts. They are aesthetic objects which draw on the artistic traditions of the fan community as well as on the personal creativity and insights of individual consumer/artists. If there is an art of "making do" as opposed to simply a vocabulary of tactics or a configuration of local practices, that art lies in transforming "borrowed materials" from mass culture into new texts. A fan aesthetic centers on the selection,