My friend is not alone. A current series on cable TV deals with animal hoarding. It is usually of dogs and cats, but one man had 150 or more rats. It is postulated that these individuals have had some traumatic occurrence in their relations with other human beings, and so seek consolation with animals. In some cases, their spouses have fled, or are planning to do so. Often the animal hoarders are overweight, suggesting that they seek to compensate for their lack of love in other ways.
Animal hoarding is a subspecies of hoarding in general. The Collier Brothers, who died in East Haarlem a good many years ago, oppressed by their weight of paper (mainly books and newspapers), are a famous example.
Naturally, with my 14,000 books the thought has occurred to me that I might suffer from this malady. However, over the last three years I got rid of some 6,000 items and I keep getting rid of more. In addition, the books are all neatly shelved, and I keep the apartment clean (at least by bachelor standards). So I do not seem to fit the fill.
In fact, the urge to collect is virtually a human universal. And this passion has proved socially useful. Many important private art collections have made their way to museums, where we all can enjoy them.
Still, there seem to be fuzzy edges. What about collecting human beings? Not too many examples spring to mind, though the collectives of the 1970s might be an example. How about nursing homes, though? This is a type of collecting that one cannot easily dispense with. After all, in this society at least, one cannot simply call up animal control to deal with the problem.
Well, I fervently hope that it won't come time for me to be "collected" in this way.
Labels: Collecting hoarding