Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What is Thingophilia?

Thingophilia is when you love stuff. Bibliophilia - the love of books. Numismaphilia - the love of rare coins. Horologiophilia - the love of timepieces and measuring time.

Major religions, existentialists, and secular humanists all warn us of the evil of Thingophilia, but we love stuff anyway. We trifle. We collect. We hoard. But why?

Author Jose Saramago gives some insight in his book All the Names:

"There are people like Senhor Jose everywhere, who fill their time, or what they believe to be their spare time, by collecting stamps, coins, medals, vases, postcards, matchboxes, books, clocks, sports shirts, autographs, stones, clay figurines, empty beverage cans, little angels, cacti, opera programmes, lighters, pens, owls, music boxes, bottles, bonsai trees, paintings, mugs, pipes, glass obelisks, ceramic ducks, old toys, carnival masks, and they probably do so out of something that we call metaphysical angst, perhaps because they cannot bear the idea of chaos being the one ruler of the universe, which is why, using their limited powers and with no divine help, they attempt to impose some order on the world, and for a short while they manage it, but only as long as they are there to defend their collection, because when the day comes when it must be dispersed, and that day always comes, either with their death or when the collector grows weary, everything goes back to its beginnings, everything returns to chaos."

Do we collect to stave off oblivion, or because it just makes us happy? Do we pick up knick-knacks because we are uncertain of our place in the cosmos, or because we have a good eye? Your comments on the matter are welcome.

For the moment however, Thingophilia is unconcerned with our motivation. We just want to know where to find the best stuff. How to tell the good stuff from the bad stuff. And how to best stuff our stuff where we stuff stuff.

The "Best Stuff" is purely subjective; I make no claims to objectivity. I welcome your constructive comments, and alternative selections. To those with a keener eye than mine, I challenge, "Educate me."

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