Lest we forget that collecting could flood its particularities.

Several days ago I wrote about Béla Balász thoughts on silent movies and promised to discuss them. That they discovered non-verbal communication (not to be mistaken with sign language) as expressing the inner man. Or as 35andupcynicismonhold commented:

we are more than words… there are other ways to communicate.

Unsurprisingly Balász asks: But how may non-verbal understanding, even internationally, be possible? He offers two proposals. Dictionaries being partly informed by silent movies, whereby both are differently treated under economic respects. Whereas the first should be compiled with scientific curiosity and accuracy with money being no big deal, the latter should screen only the non-verbal communication of the financially strong nations establishing an international non-verbal understanding.

Now let’s take up the angle of view from collecting, allowing us to, hopefully appropriately, translate Balász reflections. That way dictionaries may be taken as archival collections and movies as selected exhibitionsshowing off in common arrogance under economic focus. Thus, certain international communication should be promoted to make a fast buck, and for those who can afford, in terms of time and money, they could buy into the exotic. In any case, non-verbal communication individual expression in the form of body language, gesture, mimics will become irrelevant, meaningless again. Why is it so?


The defamation of the individual.

It is not just Platos castle in the air of ideas, Russells like a novel categories of modern logic, Humes dream theater of perceptions being a self in sum, but also the economic that is debasing the individual. Such is Stanley Cavell writing in his “The World As Things” (Philosophy the Day After Tomorrow, pp. 236-280) referring to German 20th century thinkers Walter Benjamin and Georg Simmel. A text that I will refer to in the following.

Under the umbrella of economic perceiving and acting we are engaging in a distance to the things of the world as commodified objects: they become commodity to be dealt with and to be purchased. As a common stance it was supported by empiricism, the hungry and thirsty work of the senses, forming up as a response to skepticism, the dubiety of (the reality of) the “outer” world” and the “inner” of living beings. – Anyway, money takes up the place of the variety of the things and expresses all qualitative differences between them in a quantitative distinction: “How much?” Thus, the meaning and the value of the differentiations between things, for this reason the things by it self, are experienced as meaningless, for this reason the things too. We become indifferent towards the discrimination of things. This is represented in the phenomena of ennui and the experienced worthlessness of personality.


The collector as antipole.

As it may be true that the collector is taking the things out of their circle of utility, still his or her uniqueness he or she is gloating over with his or her collection could be an expression of conformity. Like the flâneur desiring novelty and vogue, its a question of money to establish ones own collection and to lust for the exotic and outstanding.

So there has to be found an artifice against the phasing weight of collection against their particularities. There has to be found a way out, so that the notion of collection wont flood the notion and perception of the particularities of which it is composed of.

First, it is the telling. My self is formed by perceptions and experiences that express what I live and die for, and wherein I catch myself. For these I have to find a narration and to decipher my role. Its similar to an art collection. It is not the catalogue determining what counts as art, but it is the art created by artists that determines on the one hand which singularities could bear up a collection of works of art, and on the other hand which singularities are identified as works of art by a collection. There is no one-way road. In other words, a reanimation of the world (my responsiveness to the claims of individual objects to be experienced) as well as our liveliness towards the world are required.

Second, it is the tethering. In catching myself I act and show interest. And to act is to proclaim that it was me who did this or that and that could have not done by you or him or her or some machine. And to have interest is to reveal that I care―unlike the preachers speaking like God is dead.

Third, it is to make myself understandable. To have an interest and to follow my ends could alienate myself from others. By collecting I can abate the fear of my interest making me unknowable for others and the fear that security alone lies masking myself behind conformity with the interests of the others.

Thus, fourth, it is to recognize me as finite. Unlike Jean Baudrillard seeing in collecting a narcissistic self-relation it was Heidegger discovering that in collecting I understand myself as finite. In collecting I step back from millennia old inherited constructions and jump freely into a form of thinking that is named after the thing as thing.


When we collect we could put ourselves into holistic coherence. We show interest for and bind us to the mysterious world as things and the mysterious things of the worldto which we humans belong too. Thus, we enrich our experiences and recognize us as conditioned. Thereby we could assure our uniqueness as well as our understandability to others. Reciprocally we can provide this for others.

One response to “Lest we forget that collecting could flood its particularities.

  1. Pingback: »City of Shadows« by Alexey Titarenko | sinister pink·

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