Sunday, January 31, 2010

The psychology Behind Collecting

Recently I sold my Kickback 'Cornered' and 'Forever War' LP's on ebay. I just wanted to test how it felt to sell highly sought after vinyl on ebay. My conclusion is that I hate selling records, actually selling in general. The consequence is that by this moment none of my other records have been sold, despite my last post hinting such activities.

It was such a bad experience that I started to think twice about collecting. While in the phase of thinking I stumbled upon a Dutch text about collecting. Just the fact that there isn't much literature about this, made me decide to publish the translation that I made on my blog.

The text brings a psychological approach and gives us three theoretical types of collectors:

The creative-inspirational type:

Making music collections isn't an exceptional activity, but a widespread and specific occupation just like making music itself. Complexly embedded in the personality of the collector, this kind of behavior is no longer seen as the consequence of possessing-and-not-giving-back, but as a complex and rare kind of sublimation. The collection itself represents in this case a new creation, that can reflect the integrated ego of a collector in an exceptional frame. This kind of creativity can -through the collections- also fulfill a communicative and relational function.

The desire-driven type:

There's also a totally different type of collector. The one that doesn't sublimate his or her desexualized energy. But the one that rather aims towards the self and the collectibles as ego-objects for a narsistic stabilization. In this way collecting becomes a symptom of neurosis and can lead to excesses, for which the collected objects can get a psychic function, like holy objects (i.e. taking care of them), social objects (i.e. bragging about them to friends, belonging to if you posses a certain record) or erotic objects (i.e. kissing records).
Whether the collectors passion leads to isolation, senseless compiling of objects or to addiction, there is always the same cause, namely collecting as a compensation for the fragile ego.

These two opposite types of collectors are rarely to be found in pure form; actually there are always mixed forms in which both types are more or less present.

The speculating money-hungry type:

A third kind of collector is the distant and cool person that only collects as a well calculated investment for financial gain. Regardless of the fact that collecting records isn't a good investment, pure speculation can't lead to a worthy collection. Albeit economical factors are important for a collector, as in finding the means to continue building up a collection.

What makes a worthy collection:

A collection is worthy in the sense of a classified whole of objects that weren't meant to be together (…) but are now in a meaningful connection with each other and represent an image of the world they were taken from.

Sociological and gender-related aspects of collecting:

It isn't surprising that mainly men collect because not only economical, but also anthropological factors and societies role-patterns are effective in the collectors case.

For men the most important aspect of collecting is not seldom the effect upon others, this by rivalry and prestige (trophies). On top of that the narsistic withdrawal from relationships and the turning towards the self (what benefits the collection) is typically masculine.

On the other hand, women cherish social relationships more than materialism (psychic relations with objects). In their collections they seem more attentive to communication with others and artists, but also communication between the objects themselves.


It wouldn't be my blog if I didn't give my opinion about this. This text completely ignores the fact that there is love and passion for records and music also. And that it is also an intellectual activity or a quest for learning while you are actually loving what you do.

I have found school and learning mostly unpleasant. But when I started collecting it was apprehensive and fun at the same time. I never experienced such a passion and will-power while actually building up knowledge about a certain phenomena.

Documenting other subjects than hardcore and music made me wilt. And left me with an empty feeling.

Any other opinions about this?