Wednesday, November 19, 2008

To Collect is to Sustain a Life

In Collections of Nothing (Chicago, 2008), William Davies King explores the compulsion to collect. “This widely shared impulse,” King claims, is rooted in a personally or collectively felt wound. “Collecting may not be the most direct means of healing these wounds, but it serves well enough. It finds order in things, virtue in preservation, knowledge in obscurity, and above all it discovers and creates value” (7). Moreover, collecting “is a way of linking past, present, and future” (27); the collector transcends time, finds a more comprehensive and more coherent narrative, and builds a kind of “monument” against death (38). “Collecting,” King writes, “is a way of coming to terms with the strangeness of the world” (76).

Some collages by King may be viewed at: