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30 July 2004

D sent me photos illustrating R's chicken-image collecting. I responded, "Well, I collect things that look like houses... and I have a mental collection of flattened pencils... and discarded ends of wire... so who am I to judge?"
I've always fallen into the serial thing -- for instance, discovering French literature as a teenager and reading all of Voltaire, Moliere, Balzac, etc. in a ribbon. Discovering, as a kid, mysteries, and reading in a non-stop ribbon Conan Doyle, Poe, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers, etc. Cutting out and digesting a chunk of Carribean literature... South American... Ancient Greek... Icelandic sagas... My paintings fall into series of landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, lawn ornaments, roadside shrines... I have a collection of things that look like houses, and I have an inadvertant collection of weird old souvenirs that seem to apply themselves to me without me doing a thing. I collected strange mountain bad-paintings from thrift shops for a bizarre idea that has never been realised, paint-by-numbers paintings -- oh, lots of things. Brooches. Weird beverages. I collect shopping lists.* I no longer go to thrift shops or buy things, because I don't want more damn crap, and anyway I can't physically do anything with objects anymore. Life can be divided into two parts: accumulating things one needs -- and then divesting oneself of those same things, which have become a burden and which have the grip of a bulldog and won't MOVE ON without a fight. People love nothing better than to assign one a THEME, though, as then gift-buying is simple. And it works for some people (I think). RacerDave likes cars, and give him a cool car-themed object for Christmas and he'll love it! (I think) We know that R likes chickens, therefore we can apply a chicken theme to all our gift-buying for R. We're trying to please her... or we're lazy. Both? Anyway, once "they" apply a theme to their gift-buying, it's curtains for you. Pretty soon you're swamped with chickens, Elvises, souvenirs, old telephones, shoes, houses, Shriner gear, mountain paintings, cars, cats, lighthouses, Noah's Arks, postcards, ceramic knick-knacks, seals, ashtrays, cocktail shakers, New Kids On the Block memorabilia, or whatever your assigned theme.** Unless you collect first editions: then you get chicken statues :-) I do it too.
I was writing this because for the past 5 years my collecting has been of the non-physical-world variety. Every time I see a pencil that has been run over by a car I have to pause and look at it and fight the urge to pick it up... but seeing it is really enough. There would be nothing added to my life through owning a box of squashed pencils that I don't have with my mental squashed-pencil collection. I draw the line at shopping lists, however -- for them I need the object.
Do you have a theme? Run for the hills!
I always tried to give my mother intangibles -- theatre tickets or other things that didn't take up houseroom and weren't fattening. Her women's group insisted on a round of tangible and costly crap for each occasion. I suggested that a great present for, say, a birthday, would be for each person in the group to give one cut flower. The resulting bouquet would have the pleasing (to me) addition of randomness. That would spark conversation and be cause for hilarity at times. Anyway, they never did it, but I still think it's a great idea.
*This collection on-going, however.
**Actual known themes

Good therapy: Bubblewrap Popping

posted by - 4:30 PM


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