© Arto Hanciogullari und T. Tsekyi Thür

About collecting - A humorous point of view, not to be taken too seriously

People have always been divided into two categories: HUNTERS and GATHERERS. This grouping has a real historical backround, such as the fact that early humans like the Neanderthals and the very early family clans of modern humans only subsisted on hunting and killing the animals, and only later, as they already had become more or less sedentary, focused more on collecting fruits, clams, plants and other edible items. Be that as it may, we still speak of “hunters and gatherers” today, as if these two human species still existed and behaved completely differently.

And then, from around the 16th century up to our days, a third type of human appeared, the collector out of passion, yes, the real collector par excellence! The term “collector” must not mislead, because these people hunt and gather at the same time! They hunt to collect!

The passionate collector behaves like a hunter of the early days. Yes, he's a real hunter! After all, what distinguishes today's collector from the early hunters? Almost nothing. The collector goes on a prowl, feverishly searches for the object of his desire (he is on the lookout for days, months or even years), finds and spies it, pursues it completely hidden, observes it from all sides. He gets heart palpitations, his blood pounds in his veins, all his attention and concentration is fully focused on the object to be hunted; all other activities in his daily life, even his wife and children, disappear from his brain. His pulse rises, possibly also his blood pressure, his face turns red. He is now in the critical phase of hunting. Will it be possible to capture the object of desire and drag it home?

So, the collector goes to the object to be captured (it would be better to write: to be acquired) just like the early animal-hunting man. There are only two insignificant, small differences to the early hunters: a) The hunted is not sizzled on a campfire and eaten, but kept somewhere as a trophy to either hide from the other collectors or, exactly the other way round, proudly to show other hunters, and thereby arouse envy and admiration. And b) the hunter goes on stalking completely alone, not in packs with other men of his family clan. He is completely on his own. The success or failure of the project depends only on his experience and skill in tricking other hunters, who, like him, have an eye on "his" object, and on the sharpness of his hunting weapon (i.e. the thickness of his wallet).

Once the hunt has been successfully completed and the object of desire has been captured, the actual collecting should begin now. The collector feels happy, enriched, sublime, because his collection has now grown a little bit richer. The good piece gets a preferred place in the row of the other collected objects, is admired and patted, cleaned and polished, repaired and completed if necessary, finally photographed and catalogued, thus elevated to a worthy member of the collection. And with that the hunted disappears from the focus of the hunting collector! If the hunted is successfully brought home, it soon loses the collector's attention. His mind keeps pressing ceaselessly and relentlessly on the hunt for another object. And the whole procedure starts all over again...

If you look at it soberly, the passionate collector is primarily a hunter. Hunting is a magical attraction for him. In this phase, what is to be hunted is indescribably valuable and totally desirable. The collector puts all his energy into getting the object of desire. Once he has finally managed to get hold of this wonderful, incredibly interesting, unique object, it quickly loses its value. Aren't there any more beautiful, even rarer, even more valuable objects that are missing in the collection? He goes stalking again; the hunt starts all over again...

The passionate collector's never-ending lust for hunting reminds me of two legendary characters from history who have hunted tirelessly over and over again, namely for women: Casanova and Don Juan. While the former not only hunted, but supposedly loved, beautiful, desirable women, the latter has become famous for chasing women with almost morbid energy in order to possess them only once. If the lovely lady of his desire finally succumbed to his violent wooing and granted him her favour, she was immediately forgotten after the lover’s tryst. Don Juan immediately went all over again with all his energy to beguile another beauty until she too sank in his arms. And it all started all over again ... So Don Juan did not hunt women to collect them. His real collecting area was the pleasures of making love, albeit very strictly every time with another woman. Never with the same woman twice, no matter how beguilingly beautiful and sexy she was.

The modern collector today is more like a Don Juan. As soon as he gets the object of his desire, he starts looking for something else. He is always on the lookout, as I said, on the hunt, and always for different collectibles. However, there is one thing that must be credited to today's collector: He does not immediately “sell off” his feverishly hunted and successfully captured collectible. He keeps it in a suitable place, initially in an exposed, high-ranking place, later somewhere in the rest of the collection; but he still holds it in honour.

I hope I have been able to explain the paradox that today's gatherer is more of a hunter to collect and also a gatherer to hunt.