Monday, October 13, 2008

Obsession with Collecting, Aggregating

I've realized that I have a raging and unconscious obsession with gathering, aggregating, and collecting things. It is more complicated than this, however. Unlike some collectors, my affinity is not in an effort to complete or create a final collection, such as with sports cards or state quarters.

Some things I have collected or become obsessed with over time:
-Clothing, specifically t-shirts. Many of these didn't even fit me, although I bought them anyway, hoping 'to avoid them getting away.' You see, I really only bought said clothing at thrift stores, resale shops, garage sales, etc...I hope that makes sense.
-Books, a fairly productive obsession. I feel very similarly with regards to used books as with used clothing, in that, when I see a book that might somewhat approximate an interest, I have a hard time 'letting it get away.'
-Beer tabs. Inspired by Konky's mom about three years ago. Originally, the purpose was to donate said tabs to a cancer society. I just put them in a pitcher til we gave them to Kyle.
-Dryer lint. A strange one, I know. But this brings another interesting aspect of my obsession into light. This is a prime example of a 'collection' that will never be complete, nor does it provide any aesthetic or emotional pleasure - unless dutifully arranged, I guess. There is a sense that each load of laundry, which provides a hunk of lint, is itself trapped in the time in which it was created. That is to say, each load not only has historical implications which are attached to my life, but also that said load is likely the only one that is made up of those exact clothes. The things that I wore over the course of this week or that says something about the events of that week (or, more accurately, the preceding weeks). The lint tells the story of my life, one stain and scent at a time.
-Digital Media. I hate deleting photographs.

What's the takeaway? I feel as though my need to collect things has a more profound, although generally subconscious and unintentional, driving force. The act of collecting things, be they resale t-shirts or old concert tickets, ensures that one amasses a wealth of artifacts. These artifacts are not only linked with the time in which they were important, but they also tell the story of a three-dimensioned life; a life complete with activities, emotions, thoughts, weather, food, sleep, etc...

Even artifacts such as dryer lint fill in the holes of our past with the details generally forgotten over months and years. Consider the possibilities that exist. Given the ease of digital media, such as videos, audio clips, text documents, online photo storage, online communications, internet communities, blogs, etc...these things act very much like the lint from the dryer, providing an insight into the 'trivialities' of our lives, lest they be forgotten over time. Consider the beauty of having said artifact aggregation for one of your heroes. Kurt Vonnegut, maybe. Or Malcolm X. What about grandparents? We have the ability to hold on to so much, and in doing so, we can effectively slow down our days. For it is upon sight of that one picture, or upon reading those two sentences, that we relive days, months, years; and not in a detached, severed, inchoate way. But rather in a holistic, complete manner, stuffed with details provided by buckets and buckets full of dryer lint.

1 comment:

veach st. glines said...

I loved this post. I, too, collect/(ed) some of these things and find my ability to recall the moment of the act of collection to be paramount. (got this on that wonderfully foggy September Saturday in Belgium, etc)

Dryer lint (although your philosophical point got me thinking) has undeniable aesthetic qualities (textures, colors, smells) difficult for artists to dismiss. Your word-smith artistry is probably not your sole creative form of expression. (?)