Friday, January 29, 2010

collecting cats

I really want to write about Collecting - after spending quite a bit of today at the CCA [Center for Cultural Analysis, here at Rutgers] conference on Collecting Things, Collecting People, and indeed was about to launch into a discussion about the difference, as I see it, between collecting things and collecting experiences (I was Dean-summoned and had to miss the end of Miguel Tamen's talk on the subject - in which he seemed to be arguing that there was no essential difference - and probably it's a good job I couldn't stay, because I was positively bouncing up and down wanting to ask about the place of emotion in all of this - can one collect emotional experiences? How would one prove that one had collected these? - for it's not like the example he used of collecting experiences of visiting National Parks, where one can have a photograph for evidence of one standing on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, or whatever). And indeed I have plenty more to say, even excluding the time in another talk in which my brain was wandering and I wanted to think about how one might curate a collection of smells.

But can one collect cats? What would it mean to collect cats? I don't think four cats constitutes a "collection" - although the fact that I possess two china, one brush, and one plastic zebra might suggest a zebra collection. Would it be a collection if the felines were different, recognizable, breeds? Does a zoo, in other words, really constitute a "collection"? Would it make a difference if the animals were stuffed? I'm not sure that animate beings can easily be "collected," but why not? Is this because they still have some kind of agency? Two components of the non-collection, at any rate, have decided to sprawl on what our NJ contractor calls a raddiator, since it's so cold: Lola behind, and LucyFur to the fore.

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