Sunday, November 15, 2009

Collectible collectives

I admit I live in my head. So does A; it is a wonder we ever meet. Or ever even met.

While I was still a child (well teenager) I started collections that could not be taken away: words that mean the opposite of themselves but are spelled the exact same (my favorite was mother & mother, well actually it was catholic & Catholic but I am told the capitalization does constitute a spelling change. That's right, there are rules); women who made their ex-husband's names famous as their own (Dorothy Parker, Susan Sarandon).

While getting an english lit degree I collected opening lines (When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow). All it takes is a piece of paper & you have a collection. If you keep that paper with you & memorize it in spare moments, you can learn to encapsule anything, ready to be released when you read your list aloud.

Everyone knows someone who collects exes. C****** likes to gather musical covers. If I am remembering correctly, she once did a school project on covers of Twist & Shout. I am not all that interested in exes (although I DO like Twist & Shout, Twist & Shout & Twist & Shout).

When I was in my 20's, I began trying to take myself out of my head. Or at least to empty my head 'on the stage' so at least some of what I did had some context. That is when I began collecting collections. There is nothing that delights me more than whatever someone else has seen fit to gather. That is not true of course; I am most delighted by what no one ever meant to gather, or at least the gathering was not so much a goal as a symptom or even a side effect but when that collection is the backbone of something else entirely.

& that is when I began collecting collectives. The first one I realized was a list of so-called subversive & fringe groups that all recognize the international symbol for anarchy. Give it a minute.

Since that day I have made notes on all unintended groupings. Used books stores are fun. Somehow they always seem to have themes that emerge, often quickly, that are obvious to any new customer & invisible to any regular visitor. The used bookstores that sells silver jewlery at the counter-very heavy in the sci-fi department.  The one with the vegan cafe within its walls:  not so much on car repair.

Artisans guilds can be interesting too. I had a ring-side seat (no I was never a member) when one of the local groups had a 'political restructuring'. The theme of the new concept could be summed up in the words of one former board member "I do not care how many G*d damned kids you have, hire a babysitter or leave them home alone, but do not bring them here when you are supposed to be working".  Last time I checked a lot of guild members were child-free.

Farmers markets are another favorite of mine. Less diverse than other markets as they are self-limiting (after all if you are going to grow your own food & then sell it you are probably not doing it to gain entry into the world of industrial food), but still there is variety. The heirloom turkey breeders do not always see eye-to-eye with the vegan soap makers.

There is a new collective in town. A food co-op is trying to form in our area. I could not be more pleased. I like the idea, I agree with the philosophy & I am sure that like minded & agreeing people will provide much discussion & conflict for years to come. & yes, I think that is a good thing.  In the meantime a CSA has formed & we joined.  Every saturday we pick up our basket at the farmers market & go home & try & figure out what to do with what we got.  At last, something to do with all those obscure cookbooks I have been collecting.

1 comment:

  1. I got here from the block party... welcome to the madness! You picked one of the hardest blocks to start with. I love love love your blog -- must read more of it!