Little did I know I too am a collector, but, it seems that most all people are. Ever since I can remember I have had my stuffed toys. At first there was one. His name was Julian, the next one Jack and then some more. Now I have 12 stuffed toys. I have names for them all. There are two dragons, two cows, two bees, two teddy bears, one dog, one cat, one tiger and one that resembles an ape and one that is a monkey and last but the least (in size) a head of what once was a teddy bear. They were named and as is with the nature of names in this world, their names bestowed upon them identities. They were of course an extension of my consciousness but I have never given them as much thought to it as I am doing today. The reasons for this have been sketched out (very harshly, I think) by Baudrillard.
But this much I do know that when I sat naming and playing and concocting adventures for them I was happy. I was socially reclusive at that time though- so there lies proof for Jean Baudrillard. I am not too sure whether I was reclusive or simply not as outgoing as now though. I did rely on my soft toy projections during stressful times. I would talk to them but since they were the faces for the voices in my head I am not too bothered by it.
What fascinates me is the recurrent theme in all the articles, pointing out that collecting is universal manifestation in humans, though where the outcome of such collecting is concerned there is a divergence in the philosophy of the west and the philosophy of other cultures. The marker is the word ‘identity’. Look at its meaning: c.1600, “sameness, oneness,” from the Latin (5c.) identitatem, thus we see that the word used also for denoting the self, the individual, in the romance languages (languages who trace their roots to Latin), betrays the intentions of its speakers, that is to treat the individual as one of the whole. The person is not One among many but simply one among many.
I believe it is because of this flattening, this rounding off human consciousness as replaceable that there is such a strong inclination in western society to distinguish one self and maybe the collection provides the key to oneness, not in the sense that ‘one’ is an unit of the whole but that ‘one’ is simply the only example of one’s kind.
Another point that comes to my mind is the constant refrain, value. That value is not intrinsic, but attributed, by a person and not just between a person and an object but also in relation to another object, is of paramount importance in understanding that we collect, as an individual or museum, on the foundation of our assumptions and biases, therefore amounting to the museum playing the role of the modern temple complete with its own rituals and rites. Thus even the content of the museum is prey to subjective belief, if not the museum itself.
What is the implication of this one might ask?
Well museums are after all not utopian democratic institution that it masquerades to be, but a wholly human affair and thus subject to the capriciousness of our species.