Collection, Creation, Compulsion

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Is that old pile of newspapers or cabinet of broken salt and pepper shakers trying to tell you something? Author William Davies King discusses the art of amassing detritus in Collections of Nothing.

What do you collect?


William Davies King

Comments [20]

Vinny from Upper West Side Middle Class Jewish Liberal Democrat in Manhattan

MichealB(18) I'm afraid you may have missed the point of my comment(14),,, it was a JOKE!!! a "funny", a facetious and rediculous comment to amuse the mentally agile.

Aug. 06 2008 12:19 PM
Bob Kerfuffle from New Jersey

My mother, now several years dead, was born in 1914. Most of her life she dried laundry on a clothesline, so when we finally got a dryer, fabric softener sheets were a novelty to her. She told me, "You should save the used softener sheets so we can use them to stuff a pillow." I have never saved a single used softener sheet in my life, but I still think of her every time I throw one away!

Aug. 06 2008 12:08 PM
MichaelB from UWS of Manhattan

That's a good one Vinny [14]. Amazing how people who any subject, any conversation whatsoever into grist for a political rant.

Very creative.

Maybe the landlords should knock the some of the outside walls down to make more room. Better cross ventilation too.

Do you really think the landlords designed and built most of the buildings in this city?

Comments like yours are why I usually avoid blogs or bail out after only a few minutes.

Aug. 06 2008 12:06 PM
rebecca from manhattan

Linda with the cat hair: You can find crafters on line who will spin and weave your pet hair into a rug, blanket, pillow, etc.

Aug. 06 2008 12:02 PM
Jonella from New York

I collect all the packages and can labels that come through my home - because it's a record of life today - MY life today - and I so enjoy looking at these things. I'm interested in the graphic designs as I am a graduate of Parsons School of Design (graphics division - we're talking back in the sixties here) - and I have seen how graphic design (advertising design) of past eras becomes extremely interesting to view, decades later. So I save a good deal of this stuff. I pack it away in bags and boxes and stash them in the basement and garage. I always explain to people what these piles of labels and food boxes are - and why I collect them - (because I appreciate them) - and some people get it - and some people pronounce me nuts!- which I pay no attention to.
Boondox of Sullivan County

Aug. 06 2008 12:01 PM
Joseph from NY

This discussion reminds me of the Walter Benjamin essay, "Unpacking My Library," and Hannah Arendt's wonderful commentary on her friend's habit, published as an introduction to a collection of his works. Benjamin was a collector of rare books, many of which he had no intention of reading. When questioned about this, he said something to the effect of you don't eat off your fine china everyday. Arendt noted the differences between the collectors of the past, and those who later where motivated by market value, which distorted the initial impulse of collecting. Benjamin was an even more avid collector of quotes, and I think many scholars can relate to these two essays.

Aug. 06 2008 12:01 PM

i know fellow artists who "collect" things with re-purposing in mind and have interesting living spaces it's kind of an inventer's gene maybe - also i inherited a re-use ethic - not sure it's a compulsion but there's soemthing anti-consumerism to saving and re-using jars etc.

Aug. 06 2008 11:58 AM
Vinny from Upper West Side Middle Class Jewish Liberal Democrat in Manhattan

Collecting is not the problem,, it's the stingy landlords who don't provide enough space to accomodate this pastime

Aug. 06 2008 11:58 AM
O from Forest Hills

I have two cats but I vacuum the cat hair after it is brushed.

I collect roses and orchids.

Aug. 06 2008 11:58 AM
World's Toughest Milkman from the_C_train

Caller has OCD!

Aug. 06 2008 11:57 AM
courtney from lower manhattan

i casually collect pez dispensers, baseball and garbage pail kids cards, toys from the 80's and baseball player action figures. i'm not terribly serious about it and will only spend nominal amounts on each but i can see how easy it can be for one to take collecting to the point total neuroticism.

Aug. 06 2008 11:56 AM
a from ny

I collect plastic dinosaurs. The range of unique dinosaurs out there is quite amazing. I've amassed about 500 so far. One day I will open a plastic dinosaur museum.

Aug. 06 2008 11:55 AM
hjs from 11211

where is the line between this and hoarding

i have hoarding problem, a small NYC apartment makes this worse. roommates never like my "habits"

Aug. 06 2008 11:55 AM
Will from Oakland

Sounds like a good use of one's time.

Aug. 06 2008 11:54 AM
Christina from Manhattan

Packratism is a pathology. It does interfere with one's personal life but the packrat will not admit it. It indicates an inability to make a decision.

Aug. 06 2008 11:54 AM
T from Upper West Side

Here is a serious collector to check out:

Aug. 06 2008 11:53 AM
Maggie Marion from Williamsburg

I collect pressed pennies and display they in an old type set drawer I have hung on the wall.

Aug. 06 2008 11:05 AM
O from Forest Hills

My boyfriend is a horrible packrat and keeps all his books from college! He won't throw anything out! Those dictionaries and text books are out of print and not up to date after 5 years.

Aug. 06 2008 10:21 AM
hjs from 11211

i hope my roommate doesn't hear this segment

Aug. 06 2008 10:17 AM
O from Forest Hills

I'm guilty of collecting romance novels.

Aug. 06 2008 10:10 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.