He – and it is usually a he – comes across something unappreciated, neglected, forgotten.Too much to call this a discovery; call it a recognition. (With the force, the glee of a discovery.) He starts to collect it, or to write about it, or both. Because of these proselytizing efforts, what no one paid attention to or liked many now find interesting or admirable. Others start to collect it. It becomes more expensive. Et cetera.
With the Cavallier any passion sought the form of, was justified by becoming, a collection.[…]This was pure collecting,shorn of the prospect of profit. Nothing to buy or sell here. Of the volcano he could only make a gift, to his glory and the glory of the volcano.
Susan Sontag, The Volcano Lover
Lately we have been graced with many dates like today’s “11.1.11”, it is not that long ago that we had “10.10.10”. I feel a need to separate these dates from all the others, to keep them safe and observed them, essentially to collect them. These date seem to come easier in the young millennium, which slightly mars the pleasure of coming across them but only slightly. Before I only had “8.8.88” and “9.9.99”.
I am not sure what exactly I am collecting. Numbers? Coincidences ? Or why I am so very fond of their simple symmetry. Maybe I liked them because they are almost like an eclipse, a grand natural phenomenon that just happens: no one ordered it, none has to pay. I don’t have to look for the dates. They just come, my work is to notice them. Their major difference from a natural phenomenon thought is that they are utterly man-made. They occur in the particular inscription of a human measuring system placed upon the movement of the planets. (Is that objective chance in any way?)
Everyone collects dates: birthdays, deaths, weddings. Et cetera. But the beauty of these dates, for me anyway, lies in the fact that they are an accidental pattern or a splash of colour that takes a particular significant form.(Like in the decalcomania technique?)
To most of us “11.1.11” just means today. It reflects everything of today and like a mirror contains nothing; only memories and shadows. I liken these dates to prisms that force me to look intensely and be if not ‘in the moment’, near enough, in the day. Today is never going to happen again. Today is full of the number one. Today is special. Maybe I just like them because they are dates marked, special and hence a reason to celebrate.
How shall we celebrate today?
Maybe with a quote from Susan Sontag’s, The Volcano Lover(1992) that came to me via J.W who guards any sort of symmetry with her dreams and I passed it on to L.R who embraced it with her keen eyes and bright mind and now it has been picked up by someone else, already. It is a romance, about collecting and collections.
The great collections are vast, not complete. Incomplete motivated by the desire for completeness. There is always one more. And even if you have everything – whatever that may be – then you will perhaps want a better copy (version, edition) of what you have; or with mass-produced objects (pottery, books, artifacts), simply an extra copy, in case the one you possess is lost or stolen or broken or damaged. A backup copy. A shadow collection.
Susan Sontag, The Volcano Lover, (p.72)
Can’t wait for “11.11.11” I will try to find someone who is turning eleven that day and leaves at number 11 too and my collection of ones will obscure the sun.