My brother writes a marvelous blog, and in this post he tells the story of how we collected beer bottle caps when we were kids. It's a great story in itself, but there is more to it. Our passions describe us, define us, and maybe even offer revelations about us. Is it a leap to say that the Collector is a particular kind of person, or that you can tell something about a person by what they collect, or by the fact that they have collections? My brother writes, "If you want to know about me, you kind of have to know about that bottle cap collection." I can't empirically say why that is true, but it hits home for me, too.
We didn't just collect bottle caps. When we were even younger, we collected glass and ceramic figurines of animals. We never had much money (Mom and Dad were not big believers in allowances!), but we would save our coins and dollar bills and haunt flea markets and gift shops. There was one shop on the main street of town that had little metal and glass ants, and I was a frequent browser at that shop until I had saved enough to buy one. Then there was the spun glass swan I got at a county fair upstate. And the rooster I got on a seventh grade class trip to Washington, D.C.
In college, one of my best friends was a collector. He collected Tarzan books -- first editions, and every edition after. Later he got into Tolkien, collecting every book by JRRT as well as every piece of Middle Earth Role Play game material he could get his hands on. I always stood in some measure of awe at his obsessions and determination.
Of course, I am still a collector. My current collection has the advantage of being both highly portable and free -- I collect Wemic Links. That's one reason I started this site back in the Twentieth Century. Granted, I'll never have the respect that society accords a top-notch coin or stamp collector, but I have some pride in the boast I make here on my site: "The following pages link to every single non-trivial Wemic mention on the entire World Wide Web -- and most of the trivial ones too." It is neat to be able to be complete about something.
Reading my brother's post on bottle caps inspired me to update my links. There is still work to do, but at least I've checked every link, updating broken ones, and adding a few new ones.
I used to be sad when a link broke. Sometimes I would try to find an e-mail address for the creator of the content, writing to ask for permission to host their lost content on my site. But recently my savior has been the Wayback Machine. This site stores old Web pages, even after they have vanished into the aether. Thanks to the Wayback Machine, I've been able to recover lost stories, art, and more.
But the nifty part of collecting is finding a new gem. Today I discovered, for example, this drawing of a centaur and a wemic, as well as these rules for adding wemics to your Champions superhero game. Of course, I also found, as I always do, some pretty marginal links. But the point is, I got them! Not a link escapes me! Muahaha! And to think they laughed at me at the Sorbonne!
Which brings us back to the madness that is collecting. Maybe what collecting says about a person is that they are crazy!