Why do people develop a passion for collecting

Why and what do people collect?

In the distant past it was certainly an absolute necessity of life, e.g. to preserve and collect fruits, mushrooms or other supplies such as meat and fish, because especially in the temperate latitudes with their harsh winters, the stock economy was vital, because you don't like in other regions could just go into the jungle to pluck a livelihood straight from the trees. - For most people, however, this need no longer exists today. So why are we collecting?

"Collect" is not understood here to mean the psychological, pathological expression of "collecting garbage in your own house" but rather the "normal collecting" of postage stamps, garden gnomes, pictures, trophies, beetles, crown caps, cars, shells, weapons, musical instruments, beer mats, Jewelry, coins or autographs; Here the very different attitudes towards demands stand out, and nothing of the kind can be associated with the necessity of life mentioned above. - But sometimes there are also things that are collected, e.g. after the scarcity economy of a war: perhaps a nail, even if it is rusted and straightened, that could be used at some point at a possible time when it can hardly be bought anywhere. - Or how do you classify the wedding bouquet that has been completely dusty for decades and that was hanging in your grandmother's bedroom? For most this bouquet would be worthless, but for the grandmother it was of paramount importance! This last example makes it clear that “collecting” is a deeply subjective passion and may be viewed by outsiders as a bizarre hobby.

On the one hand, collected objects make it easier to remember what one would like to grant everyone, but on the other hand they can also be an expression of greed, if one thinks of the ludicrous, psychologically pushed auction results for paintings or other art objects, where behind the purchase the sure profit expectation of the subsequent sale is already in place. - At this point, however, it should not be denied that in addition to the immaterial value in a 'real' collection there is also a material value that the ideal collector could perhaps benefit from in times of need. It is to be hoped, however, that such a time of need will remain as bad a dream as possible, because one will probably only be able to sell with losses, and it would ultimately mean the liquidation of a collection.

Collecting beetles, on the other hand, is of a completely different kind; perhaps it is the ethics that triggered it. In any case, it is based on curiosity and the desire to integrate the next Beetle into the existing system and to insert it in the right place. Here the collector wants to understand nature and its systematics. This scientific collecting generates new and new ideas and forces scientific disputes in public. Since collections are usually incomplete, they represent an open system like science itself. And what applies to beetles also applies in the same sense to butterflies, mussels, minerals, meteorites or old telescopes. Isn't the whole of science itself the result of the passion of many personalities for collecting scientific facts in order to be able to better see through and understand the interlocking of the world structure? Don't collectors also generate history and stories with their collective goods, often with a historical aspect?

In any case, collecting stimulates the imagination, which can occasionally develop to such an extent that people no longer define themselves through their daily work but rather through their hobbyhorse or through their collection, with which they have built up a kind of relationship over the years Has. According to the motto "like to join people at the same time", he then connects with others in order to communicate about the collection. Or is it maybe more?

Isn't it every human being's wishto preserve, maybe because it is difficult for him to throw away what once had a meaning to him that he fondly remembers? Doesn't it just take time for some things to be ready to hand in or throw something away, such as old exercise books or books, old papers or cut-out newspaper articles because they are out of date? Or is the human being nourished by the illusion that, in a figurative sense, he could save something into infinity or that he wants something to be preserved beyond his own transitoriness?

An interview by Claudia Wüstenhagen in "Psychology" with Prof. Dr. Paul Boom in the article "Disgust is also a form of pleasure". The psychologist Paul Bloom explores the bizarre side of people: Why they cling to worthless things, consider a blank canvas to be art - and why men dream of sex with a virgin.

In a painting, we also react to invisible properties: who painted it, what the painter was thinking and feeling. It is about something ideal that is inherent in the work. That is why an original is worth more than a fake, even if we cannot tell the difference. How we perceive something is influenced by our thoughts about it. Even water tastes better if you assume it comes from a spring and not a tap.

It is a fascinating quality of human beings that a simple object with no material use can have enormous value - simply because of our idea of ​​where it comes from, what history it has. This doesn't just apply to a Rembrandt. People also pay astronomical sums for John F. Kennedy's golf clubs or Michael Jackson's glove.

It is good for us when we look at other people and say: You are not only the sum of what I see and hear, something is going on in you too. You have a mind, a personal story.

We are also attached to objects with which a story connects us. Almost everyone has something that is irreplaceable for them, even though the material value is approaching zero. - One can show in children that the attachment to objects occurs very early on the basis of one's own story. "

The idea of ​​the "caveman principle" presented in the book by the theoretical physicist Prof. Dr. Michio Kaku "The physics of the future - our life in 100 years" rowohlt, 4th edition January 2013. There it says among other things in the chapter "The caveman principle":

„ … Genetic and fossil evidence suggests that modern humans, who looked just like us, came from Africa more than 100,000 years ago, but nothing suggests that our brains and personalities have changed significantly since then ... including our desires , Dreams, personalities and desires have probably not changed fundamentally in these last 100,000 years. We probably still think like our cave-dwelling ancestors ... the caveman, for example, always asked for 'proof of hunting success'. It wasn't enough to brag about the fat prey that was almost caught. The freshly killed prey in hand was always worth more than stories about prey that had escaped ... And so fans go to great lengths to get a personal autograph of 'their' favorite actor, even though they can get a signed picture from the Internet for free could download ... ".

There is hardly a better way to describe the deeper motifs. - Or is it rather the case that it is not just owning the collection that satisfies but collecting itself, that is, finding, discovering and classifying objects that complete the collection and round off the history more and more thoroughly? - But what is the best way to proceed practically now?

If a person like me is rather embarrassed, perhaps in exceptional cases, asking a person to speak directly to them for an autograph, all that remains for them is to purchase the same. In the case of deceased personalities, this is inevitable anyway. A recommended way is to contact other collectors, maybe even in a study group or an association. Alternatively, the Internet, which is afflicted with a certain risk, could help, or an order via various fixed price catalogs from solid dealers, who also draw attention to counterfeits and where you may have to react quickly. How great is the excited anticipation of the next new acquisition, which is initially still unknown, in a manageable, not too large-scale collecting area? An admittedly somewhat riskier way would be auctions. Risky with addictive potential because this is where psychology comes into play and several strangers could hang the basket too high. In this case it is very important not to lose the grounding and to keep a clear head. Sometimes with this "method" something goes wrong, but you shouldn't regret it. You only need a little patience here in order to achieve what you want at some point.

And then ? - should finally after many, many years of collecting in a quiet hour of looking back and looking at the collectibles, the happy feeling of having built and created something with hand and foot that cannot tell a full story, but nevertheless can tell, which looks rounded and possibly also opens up a new perspective! Is that all? - On a completely different, more emotional level, the Indian hand holding a handwritten lettering of a revered, respected personality can even send touching shudders down the spine, which cannot be outweighed by any earthly price - then I pause and think: even if one day humanity should lose their knowledge, which they had gathered over millennia, and that is certain, it was nevertheless worthwhile to always be close to those who, with the hardships of their lives, created this knowledge and acquired and passed it on over generations!

For my grandchildren on March 29, 2013
written by Jan van der Lip