Musings on Place, Travel, Books, Literature, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Collecting, Media, Life and the Arts

The Allegorist and the Collector

"The allegorist is, as it were, the polar opposite of the collector. He has given up the attempt to elucidate things through research into their properties and relations. He dislodges things from their context and, from the outset, relies on his profundity to illuminate their meaning. The collector, by contrast, brings together what belongs together; by keeping in mind their affinities and their succession in time, he can eventually furnish information about his objects. Nevertheless – and this is more important than all the differences that may exists between them – in every collector hides an allegorist, and in every allegorist a collector. As far as the collector is concerned, his collection is never complete; for let him discover just a single piece missing, and everything he’s collected remains a patchwork, which is what things  are for the allegorist from the beginning. On the other hand, the allegorist  – for whom objects represent only keywords in a secret dictionary, which will make known their meanings to the initiated – precisely the allegorist can never have enough of things. With him, one thing is so little capable of taking the place of another that no possible reflection suffices to foresee what meaning his profundity might lay claim to for each one of them."

From The Arcade Project by Walter Benjamin.

I like this. But I think I need to collect my thoughts – read this over several dozen more times to get a decent grip on it…to iron out the kinks in its swing…so that I can grasp its profundity. Because profundity for the allegorist is, I guess, not a matter of reflection, as it might be for the collector, but rather a flash of illumination which only, after the fact, shines profound light and unforeseen meaning on each affected thing…

Sort of.

This might read better after a toke or two.

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