Tuesday, March 23, 2010

the nothingness of excess and possession.

i rarely buy books. it's kind of embarrassing. i wear glasses and look smart, but i generally tend toward comics, zines or (usually) making things when i could be reading. but when i saw faythe's mention of collections of nothing by william davies king, i felt a very strong pull to it. i would be lying if the fact that the cover hints at his security envelope collection of 800+ patterns didn't have a lot to do with it.

possession, acquisition, collection and material concerns have been very much on my mind this past year (or more) as i sift through the leftover materials of my father's life and absorb the important things that my grandparents left behind when they moved into their new assisted living home (which they love, by the way). there's a whole bunch of family and personal history that i don't really feel like getting into but suffice it to say that issues of hoarding and material are deeply interesting to me.

i can only write from personal opinion, so i'll say that i found the book pretty amazing, confusing, upsetting, exciting, annoying, indicting, and comforting. it basically lead me through a large swath of feelings and thoughts in relation to this stranger's life history, behaviours and deconstructions of both. as annoyances go, i had a hard time (as i usually do) with some hopefully involuntary trappings of academia that the writing dips into at times. i have a very deep-rooted knee-jerk hate-on for academic blather but then, it never really worked for me. mostly, though, these feelings probably stem from the permission king gives readers to come right inside his life. he has laid himself bare (awkwardness and neurosis included).

the more detached processing of the notion of collection and collector were what i really clung to in the book. i am still turning many of his ideas around in my head. king's collections (in a voyeuristic way) came into my life at the exact right time. i am currently wrestling with my own heaps of envelopes, jars of shredded money and crushed pop cans. reading the thoughts and struggles of this similar (yet very different) stuff-magnet felt really useful to me at this time. i was also strangely fascinated by how some of him collections seemed oppressive to me, some repulsive and some delightful even though they all occupy a very similar space of uselessness. food. for. thought.

leah, you should read it. actually, a bunch of people i know should.

update (march 24, 2010) - here is a video documenting some of his collections that professor king shared with me:


karyn said...

This sounds really great Becky. And it's just really great to read your words. I'm feeling like I miss you!

sweetie pie press said...

i miss you, too. can i come by your place of work around opening some day and lay 100 triangles out on your big table? then we could have tea and chat.

wdking said...

Dear Ms. Sweetiepie, I came across your blog post by chance, and I am glad that my book (mostly) worked for you, and thanks for bearing with the parts that did not. I am also facing the imminent challenge of figuring out what to do with my parents's things. The experience of owning our way in the world is (potentially) so rich and (potentially) so impoverishing, and yet we can't not face the the task. Again, thanks for your responses to the book.

sweetie pie press said...

mr/professor king,

my dream in putting this inept book review into the world was that you would find me, because i finished it an immediately wanted to find your email and tell you how much i enjoyed it. i also felt bad about railing against academic thought in such a vulnerable book (even before you found it). it's a personal gut reaction for me that really has nothing to do with you and i am clunky when it comes to expressing these things (no education).

my second dream was to see some of your collections myself, especially the envelope linings since it is a hoard that we share. but maybe that is a pretty presumptuous hint.

now i don't know that you will see this reply. but i still think that the internet is amazing.

Tara Bursey said...

Ha, am I to follow a post from Mr. King himself?

Becky, I enjoyed this post thoroughly. Thanks for it. As you already know, our brains really seem to overlap on a few choice topics. Sometimes it feels like you write about things on your blog AS I THINK ABOUT THEM. Very weird, but very true.

Also, in regards to your hate-on for academic language (or, to use their foul, artless language--DISCOURSE), I feel like I should point out that you said at least a hand full of words last time you came over that I didn't know the meaning of, nor had I ever used in my entire life. So there.

sweetie pie press said...


i know! i am full of contradictions and hypocrisies. i wonder what those words were. epistaxis? euclidean? non-euclidean? i am trying to think of what weird words would come up in talking about crochet. only those last two.

also, you are one of the people who wants to read this book, specifically.

leah b said...

when i first saw faythe's mention of the book i tried to search it out in this city, but no luck. thank goodness for cyber space.

i'm really struggling with my inclination to collect books and paper stuff right now. i've been spending my sundays wandering around flea markets for hours(!) and aidan doesn't come with me, but his philosophy of spare living (and reminders of our current life situation) sits on my shoulder and i often just have to leave out of frustration.