As I’m currently engaged in my biennial deep-clean of my house, I’m concentrating on getting rid of things that I don’t actively use. It’s an assortment of the usual stuff, clothes I bought, books I no longer want, etc. Disposing of that stuff is pretty easy, but this year I’m concentrating on the stuff I’ve been hauling around in boxes for years; stuff that just sits, taking up space. Mostly material memories.
I haven’t worn my Notre Dame monogram jacket in a decade. Do I really need to keep it? I have my baby china. I have no memory of ever eating off of it. Do I really need to keep it? Do I really need to save my yearbooks, my collection of battleship drawings, my baseball cards, my complete set of unopened Star Wars Episode I Lego? What’s mine & special to me I will keep, and it’s mostly small, or digitized. Photos, my national championship ring, my first stories. There are also items that have been handed down to me that I care for: my grandpa’s cufflinks, my grandma’s poetry, some of my mom’s antiques, quilting & needlework.
I’m having trouble discerning the line between what I want to save, what I don’t care about, and what my son might want years from now. And, I really, really, really don’t want to haul around giant plastic tubs for the next 30 years that are a personal library of my life as a child.
File this under: Crap that I don’t want but don’t know how to get rid of.
I follow this style site called Well Spent. They “[feature] honestly crafted products that look good and don’t cost an arm and a leg.” Last week they did a Q&A with Drifter Bags. The first thing that struck me was that it was an Ohio brand. I shoved the link up on Facebook, and, lo, my friend Rich commented with an address. Turns out Drifter Bags is based 15 minutes from my house.
Well, now I just had to go visit. They do their work in what looks like an old car dealership. I walked in and Tony Nguyen himself came out to say wait on me. The place is filled with merchandise, all of it stylish and intriguing. Most of the bags are made out of sturdy nylon pack cloth, but if you’re looking for sturdy Cordura, or Martexin waxed cotton, or a bag made from cloth produced at the Bemidji Woolen Mills in Minnesota, you can take your pick.
Tony told me that the bags are hugely popular in Japan, Australia and Europe, but aren’t getting much attention in the States. Hopefully that will change.
I picked up the Martexin waxed cotton Classic Messenger Bag and a wallet for my son. And, good for me and others within driving distance, the prices were a bit less on select items in the store.
I talk about Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction too much. By too much, I mean every couple of years. I really should read some other stuff that he’s written, so I don’t get too pseudo-intellectually scholarship-boyish. Like I’m about to.
I collect stuff, not a lot, but stuff nonetheless. It used to be baseball cards, then Tolkien books, then good science fiction in general and now beach glass, good movies, and local music paraphernalia. I used to collect things as if the things themselves were precious. Benjamin would call this the aura of the art object. He posits that original works of art have greater value than reproductions. That’s the kind of reason that people go for mint first editions, signed copies, &c. There’s nothing wrong with that. I would still love to get my mitts on a first edition Starship Troopers with the awesome dust-jacket, but my collector’s criterion has changed over the years.
I no longer collect things as if the things themselves were precious, I collect them because of what they contain. So now when I’m at Half-price Books, and I see a hard cover of LeGuin’s Lathe of Heaven with the original dust-jacket cover art, I don’t care that its just the book club edition, I care that it is hard-bound and therefore more durable than my paperback version. The durability matters because it protects what is really important about the book, the story itself. So I’ll pick up an Asimov omnibus and get rid of my ancient paperbacks (which are worth more than the omnibus) because the omnibus will last longer.
I don’t mind that my Egon Schiele came from All Posters or that the Death of Marat in my bathroom (which never fails to make me act disgustingly smug) came from the same. If my art selections are considered a collection, I have what I have because I like it, not necessarily for its extrinsic value. I try to collect experiences, emotions and moments of communication now, not every last edition of the Lord of the Rings. (Although if you want to hook me up, I won’t complain).
the packrat purge is complete and several grocery bags are now filled with random paraphrenalia that i deemed unneccessary to store for another year. today i also washed my car and bought a picture album to house my collegiate photographs. my room is now livable for the next few weeks.
we need water terribly. we’ve had no rain in over a month and everything is either dead or dying. the gras crumbles to dust when it is stepped on, the ground is cracked, there insect count is even low. there is no stir in the air. much of my town’s livelihood is dependent on the success of the crop. if we get shat on this year the already depressed economic straits of our community will only be compounded. i’m reading Double Indemnity and I expect to complete it this evening.
Happy 1st Anniversary to Brian and Alice Stone!