Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Venus Flytrap

photo of Venus Flytrap by Noah Elhardt
Numismatic refers to coins and philately to stamps. Lepidoptery applies to butterflies. These varying disciplines all have something in common. For instance, stamps are basically an anachronism as are coins when you think about it (though ancient coins which were minted with great care and at human cost in themselves often tell stories that few dimes, nickels or quarters would be capable of revealing).With the internet people send e mails rather than letters and money is electronically transferred with most goods being acquired on credit cards or through cryptocurrencies. Vladimir Nabokov famously collected butterflies, an occupation that will always be rarified and limited to a few people gifted with certain kinds of observational abilities--together with an appreciation for flights of beauty. Then there are those who collect paperclips and rubber bands, which they carefully bunch together. String, ribbon and the wrapping paper in which some gifts are received are stowed away by another class of collector who hoards goods simply because they’re not able tear themselves from them. Dickens’s Miss Havisham was a character who lived in cobwebs, through which she protected herself from the traumatic memory of being jilted. There are museums devoted to prison life such as the Big House Museum at Folsom or sex like the institution of the same name on 27th Street in Manhattan. Objects aggregate and proliferate and either become prized as repositories of memory or simply saved as a kind of insurance, to the extent they may provide a significance that will someday be unearthed--perhaps giving an insight into the sensibilities of their one-time users. How can you jettison one of those old albums with serrated-edged photos held together with ornate corners—the kind of thing that embodies lifetimes (viz. Wisconsin Death Trip) found in tag sales. Everyone is dead and you may not know a soul, but that’s just the point.

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