Re: anti-collector

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Posted by R. John Howe on March 20, 1999 at 06:42:10:

In Reply to: anti-collector posted by Katharine Hawks on March 20, 1999 at 00:54:35:

Dear folks -

Katherine's contribution here is both subtle and informed: Walter Benjamin is certainly worth paying attenton to on such things.

But there is here even in this rather sophisticated view of the nature of connoisseurship, a hint of some of the possible dangers entailed.

In Benjamin's elevated phrase he says that"

"...ownership is the most intimate relationship one can have to objects. Not that they come alive in him; it is he who lives in them."

Katherine then assents, describing this thought as "poignant" for her and goes on to say, "...I was especially moved by the idea "living through one's objects", in the intimacy of ownership."

And Katherine's extraction from Aristotle of the related image of the "voice of the shuttle" --...that suggests that "...that art can speak in ways which language cannot..." is quite lovely (although I cannot think of a collector who is quite this silent.)

The potential danger here for me is this: that one might begin to live through one's art objects to the neglect of important human relationships. We all know collectors like this. The problem is detecting whether you have become one. The notion that one might begin to live primarily through one's owned objects is alarming and a little sad.


R. John Howe

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