Are you a hoarder, a collector, someone who just can’t bear to part with things? Maybe you feel you must be a keeper of the knowledge of your life, community or every piece of paper you ever owned, including receipts. As a child, did you not want to eat because you felt the food would be sad and feel pain as you chewed? Are you a compulsive shopper, buying gifts for people, but once your purchases are home, you can’t part with them? Then you will find kindred spirits in Stuff – compulsive hoarding and the meaning of things. This riveting book sheds light into the crevices and dark tunnels in the homes of America biggest hoarders. And yes, apparently there is a reality show!
I found it a fascinating read, even bored my fellow library lunchers with it in the staff room. In it are people whose lives are limited and crippled by a need to collect and an inability to throw away. There are often links strangely to perfectionism, ADHD and giftedness and it had me thinking about the more sane end of the spectrum – the collectors amongst us.
I for one have always collected. Trade Me has been my recent undoing, my sparkly brooch collection is impressive, as are my necklaces and the group of very useful old Temuka pottery in my kitchen. I’ve just married a retro collector who also has ‘throwing away’ issues, so lord help us!
Whether it is rare bone china tea sets, GI Joe comics or making your own retro lamps , it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t collect stuff. Some do it for long-term rewards, hoping that in their dotage they can sell their collection and live off the profits. Others may love the feel of the objects in their hands, or the memories they evoke. But for whatever reason, it’s a trend that’s big and getting bigger.
The popularity of Antiques Roadshow and the ability to hunt down maker’s marks and the histories of objects on the internet as well as trade amongst others with ‘The Sickness’, all makes it easier and more exciting than ever before.
The libraries stock many books on objects, furniture, books, stamps and many other things people collect. Price It! is a searchable database is constantly updated and contains more than 20 million images and prices received on treasures people collect, buy and trade.
Just ensure the things you collect don’t take over, so you have to engineer complex tunnels through your possessions to get from one end of your house to another, as the reclusive and obsessive Collyer Brothers did in 1930s New York, one of whom was crushed to death by the ceiling high piles cramming their four storey mansion.
‘Stuff’ makes you think about your own attachment to ‘things’, our materialistic world and ways to collect but not obsess. Now, back to my Trade Me watch list…