12.09.2014

Packing

Random finds during packing. Above, business card from a family trip.
Below, health votive from Greece.
Small 1920 notebook with maps, 26th Street Flea Market

matchbooks, 26th Street Flea Market
photo, Maine.
UPDATED: I am moving. This means everything comes off the walls and out of drawers and off the shelves—it's taken me a while to absorb the enormity of that. There is just so much stuff. I stop and think—well everything came in the door so everything can make it out. But much of this accumulation was just that-- a steady accrual, creeping in quietly, piece by piece. I've looked at this move as an opportunity to deaccession some things from The Collection: shells, old bottles, ceramics, mudlarking detritus, some wooden what-nots, a large cow head sign... But each shedding is a trial, almost every one produces a twinge of regret along with a brief little remembrance of where and when I acquired the item. The goal was to get rid of 1/4 of my flea market cache. It has been more like 1/10. Perhaps I will do further editing on unpacking.//
The passion for accumulation is upon us. We make “collections,” we fill our rooms, our walls, our tables, our desks, with things, things, things.

Many people never pass out of this phase. They never see a flower without wanting to pick it and put it in a vase, they never enjoy a book without wanting to own it, nor a picture without wanting to hang it on their walls. ... Their houses are filled with an undigested mass of things, like the terminal moraine where a glacier dumps at length everything it has picked up during its progress through the lands.

But to some of us a day comes when we begin to grow weary of things. We realize that we do not possess them; they possess us. Our books are a burden to us, our pictures have destroyed every restful wall-space, our china is a care, our photographs drive us mad ...We feel stifled with the sense of things, and our problem becomes, not how much we can accumulate, but how much we can do without. ... Such things as we cannot give away, and have not the courage to destroy, we stack in the garret, where they lie huddled in dim and dusty heaps, removed from our sight, to be sure, yet still faintly importunate...

—The Tyranny of Things, Elisabeth Morris (1917)
A friend noted:
Things. Recognized as once beloved. Now mostly just reminders of the excitement of their own discovery. Usually many layered time travel... to the time I found it, and further back, to the era the thing came from as well. So a perfect card of "Victory Hair Pins" takes me to both 1940 and 1987.
Recalling two eras was a wonderful observation. 

I still feel delighted by the specialness of the objects I have, but that delight is yoked to a sort of leaden duration of time in my possession. I feel I've "spent" the excitement of the piece by having it around so long. It needs to be discovered again. I have been putting things out in front of my house to be taken (in true Park Slope fashion) and have sold a couple things online. In a sense, by giving objects away or selling them I am reenergizing them— giving these finds a chance to delight anew.


4 comments:

Michael Leddy said...

Good luck with moving.

And thanks for that passage from Elisabeth Morris. It’s just what I need these days. A NYPL copy of Days Out is in Google Books for free. (There she’s still Elisabeth Woodbridge.)

Angela Voulangas said...

Thanks very much Michael!

I will check out the Google book-- I dont know much about her other than Tyranny of Things. That title and sentiment really resonated with me.

male said...

Ang, we are down in Tasmania on two months break at our other house . . . thinking of you and your move.
I have two another friends (married) going through the same deal, children gone (or going), so I'll do a face book post with some of our Georgian prints on the theme here, soon.
I have just hot keyed the iPhone to the macBook Barbara takes with here so I have a larger screen that the iPhone so visually better.
Not doing the blogs for two months so not as driven now we ar on our break,
Good luck with the move!

male said...

Ang, we are down in Tasmania on two months break at our other house . . . thinking of you and your move.
I have two another friends (married) going through the same deal, children gone (or going), so I'll do a face book post with some of our Georgian prints on the theme here, soon.
I have just hot keyed the iPhone to the macBook Barbara takes with here so I have a larger screen that the iPhone so visually better.
Not doing the blogs for two months so not as driven now we ar on our break,
Good luck with the move!

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