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Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Boxed In or Boxed Up?
For years I've listened to friends who love music the way I do describe what it feels like to pass that tipping point when they are suddenly consumed by the urge to be rid of some of their records. And I've shuddered each time, possessed by the conviction that such a move may lead to harder stuff, like dispensing with one's entire collection because it seems "redundant" in the era of digital media. Tonight, though, as I contemplated the sixteen boxes that comprise the vast majority of my CDs, I found myself identifying with that impatience towards material goods. "What would it be like," I thought, "to sell or donate all of this stuff?" It was like being tempted by the serpent. In fact, I found it much easier to imagine dispensing with my entire collection than sorting through it to figure out what I could bear to part with. But then I realized that what I was really contemplating was abandoning everything about my identity that was the result of conscious self-fashioning. It's hard to conceive of a spookier prospect, given the way I've lived my life since I was a teenager. Perhaps that's why I was momentarily seduced by its allure.

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st_ranger From: st_ranger Date: November 2nd, 2009 07:15 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I've actually come to this same point lately, too! I find the CD to be repulsive, sort of an ancient artifact, but on the other hand, getting rid of all of them seems so self-deconstructive. Eventually, the disgust level will rise over my inertia and love of collection and curation and I'll toss the whole lot in a fit. Or give it to a friend.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 2nd, 2009 08:29 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
The thing is, I still listen to my CDs. I have a long commute these days and make it a point to bring a selection of albums that I insist on listening to in their entirety, with the original track order. And I listen around the house, too. Although there's nothing very attractive about the CD as a material artifact in the abstract, I do find it much easier to organize my thoughts about music -- and to find what I'm in the mood to hear, too -- when I can review the spines than when I'm in my iTunes library. So I have good reasons not to let my collection be dispersed. I probably won't, either. Because I got my first CD player and accompanying CDs as a high-school graduation present back in 1986, the consequences for my sense of self in making such a dramatic mood could be devastating. At least I can understand, though, why others might be inclined to do such a thing.
From: e4q Date: November 2nd, 2009 09:54 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
i have just given away half my cd collection.

tapes went in the bin a long time ago.

i started having a record 'collection' when i was a teen, but they got stolen when i was a student, and that coincided with the first wave of piracy, so i moved onto cassettes, which are not the archival material of choice for anyone.

i also have an entire portfolio of unreproducable digital based work on a zip drive. i made a couple of little movies and a game. as far as i know none of this will be recovered. and i have an animation on video... and no vcr.

i have done the opposite of you. nothing bad happens. i also give away books. i have regretted the loss of a very few things.

my big challenge is should i photograph and chuck my portfolio, of work mainly done in my 20s, which no one ever looks at?
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 2nd, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
No, you never get rid of creative work that you did yourself. That would be silly!

Actually, this whole topic is freaking me out.

I'm inclined to just get the CDs out of their boxes ASAP so that I'm not even tempted.

Why isn't the Zip drive stuff recoverable? I still have one, if you need it.

From: e4q Date: November 2nd, 2009 09:35 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)


you do? i thought they went the way of all things ages ago!

it would be particularly nice to see my game again.

maybe i should send you it snail mail, and you could burn it to disk or probably just send it via yousendit or something.

i am not surprised the whole topic is freaking you out. when i first met you you were posting everyday objects as archive, you are a very archival person.

my parents are polar opposites - i don't think my dad has ever willingly thrown anything away, and my mum has mainly empty cupboards. i am a bit afraid of both of those states, my dad being less archival and more hoarding, my mum being less zen and more expulsive.

it makes me very neurotic around objects.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 2nd, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: zip

I could totally do that for you. Of course, there are probably folks near to you who could help, if you put out an inquiry. But it would be a pleasure.

Yes, I'm very archival. Maybe what I need to do is not contemplate throwing it all away, but rather returning to my past practice of making items from my archives public as a way of releasing me from the psychological bondage in which they presently hold me. So once as I "expel" something that way, even if I retain the physical artifact, my relation to it is irrevocably altered.
From: e4q Date: November 3rd, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: zip

probably. it does seem silly to send it all the way to america, when there are people with computers here... i have wanted this done for ages, but it isn't at the top of my list...

lots of artists destroy student work. i promise i will photograph as i go along if i do it!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 4th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: zip

I still don't think destroying is the way to go, Elaine. Unless you're worried about the art market. . .


If you have trouble with the Zip drive thing, I can probably send you mine.
From: e4q Date: November 4th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: zip

i am not worried about the art market! it does jolly well for itself whether i do or don't do pretty much anything.

at the moment everything is in a cupboard in portfolios. no one ever looks at them and they honestly aren't that great. i would post as i documented if that makes you feel better?

alsoname From: alsoname Date: November 2nd, 2009 07:50 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
As a teen I would frequently pare down my record collection so I could take a box of recordings to the store and exchange it for credit to further my obsessive search for wonderful music. Sometimes that was the only way I could finance this endeavor, but in retrospect I do regret getting rid of a lot of that stuff. At the very least, some of it might have been valuable by now. But mostly I guess I regret it for the nostalgia factor, for lack of a better way to describe it.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 2nd, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I still have most of my 45s and LPs from high school. I don't have a record player right now, mind you, but knowing that I could is enough. Part of the reason why I'm so reluctant to part with CDs is that there was a time in college when I did unload them. Amazingly to me now, I once got rid of two of the four CDs I got as part of my graduation present in which my first CD player arrived on the scene. And a bunch of other discs that now inspire regret due to their absence.
sanpedrosula From: sanpedrosula Date: November 3rd, 2009 09:28 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

magic words

This is my favorite song of all time. I'm sure you know it. I hang onto everything for dear life, so listening to this helps me see past that.


I think you already give your love each and every day.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 4th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: magic words

I try. . .

That's a great song!

I keep a lot, but I try to make it stuff that I may one day make productive use of. Even the little sentimentalia I save are items believe will one day spur me to write something. CDs are tricky because, even though they can all be converted to digital form, there's something about the cognitive process of sorting through them in their cases that makes me think thoughts that would evade me in a purely computerish environment.
From: veggieducksalad Date: November 5th, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)


If you've ripped all the CDs, never listen to them in a CD player anymore, and you like the format in which you do listen to them, is getting rid of them really a problem? I listen almost entirely digitally, but I still like that I have more rights as legal owner of a CD than as legal owner of a digital file, and that CD failure is much less common than hard drive failure.

On the other hand, CDs definitely fall into that category of "stuff" that fills up my world and from which I most certainly would like to disburden myself.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 5th, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: interesting

Thanks for clarifying things for me, Jonathan. I actually listen to CDs all the time. Unless I'm exercising or need to hear particular songs over and over for a piece I'm writing, I always prefer to listen to CDs, whether on the home stereo, boombox or in the car. If I get a turntable, as I am hoping to do, I may switch to vinyl for some purposes. But I definitely want a physical artifact.

I guess I was having fantasies of a streamlined digital existence. Having lost nearly a terabyte worth of ripped media content to hard drive failure over the past six months, though -- most of it still at my disposal, thankfully, since I own the CDs and DVDs -- I should know better than to entertain such dangerous dreams.
From: veggieducksalad Date: November 5th, 2009 03:43 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: interesting

That's the peril of the so-called "immaterial" digital existence. Its materiality is pretty fragile. On the other hand, a good backup system should save us all from anything but an EMP.
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