Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Are you a collector or a meta-collector? Guess what...


Collecting
All collections to some extent are in themselves commentaries on or critiques of collections and collecting itself. In other words, what one collects is a position on the phenomenon of collecting. Why do we persist in collecting things even when things have been digitized and made largely obsolete?
Certainly, many of our collections are available in a "cyber" sense - art, music and literature are all largely digitized and available in download or in free-view situations. And, the digitized versions of these things are more comprehensive, complete and pristine than anything we can do on our own.
Well, gee I guess we just like things, don't we?
There is the thought that collecting arises from our collective psyche, recalling the vast period of time when we, as a species fell into the "hunter /gatherer" category of human existence. The thought is that we just haven't given up that ghost yet.
So, anyway, the thought of collections being about collecting, or"meta-collecting" (collecting about collecting) as instrinsic to every / any collection - where am I going with this mindless trope?
I would have to say that some of my (few) collections are completely about that wrong-headed tendency. For instance, there is my "Unpopular Toy Collection". For years I have collected toys that didn't quite make it and thus, were relegated to the close-out section of the toy store. My main impulse here was a self-conscious parody of collecting: who would want and even, preserve unpopular toys? I guess I felt sorry for the toys, personifying them in a kind of pre-"Toy Story"conceit. Those poor "Raiders ofthe Lost Ark" action figures with no little boys and girls to play with them! Boom, here I come to save them.
But really, this collection is just a perverse riff on collecting. "You want to see a collection? Here check this out." "Huh?"
The fact is, being aware that I am driven to collect, just like every one else, I took a slightly ironic and/or cheap approach. Its a kind of little joke I share with myself. Ha ha ha!
Another collection I have verges on not being a collection - my pencil collection. This is one sweet collection as collections go. For one thing, it only takes up about a square foot after 15 or so years of collecting. It performs many of the functions a collection should perform- that is, it betokens many personal, past memories. "Gee, that Boston Red Sox pencil, I got it when I went to Fenway". or "Hey, my Globe Theater pencil, I got that at the Globe on the South Bank in London." ETC.
Also,this is an easy collection for other people to indulge me in - pencils are cheap and (as mentioned before) don't take up much baggage space. They can be and are artistic, beautiful and so forth. But here's the lynchpin characteristic of a pencil collection - if you gett ired of it, you can just use the pencils.
So, I guess the collection that really isn't a "Pure Collection", eg. you are halfway planning to functionally employ the items of the collection, is really on the boundary of collection and not-collection."Hey," he thought, "Maybe I can continue writing about this malarkey for afew thousand more lines!"
The End

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