Sunday, May 15, 2011

Every Closet Has a Door...

There's a sense of irony knowing the impulse to start up a blog about the various pop culture treasures I keep hidden away in my closet is somehow connected to my latest yard sale haul.  The office floor is now littered with carded action figures, old children's books, DVDs, laserdiscs, etc., and it's painfully obvious how impossible it will be to fit it all without some serious reorganization.   It's not often that I try to deconstruct why I spend so much time trying to reclaim these lost items from my childhood, or why I find it so therapeutic to slide open the door and spend time with them. Now that my closet is overflowing physically, however, I suddenly feel the urge to express my feelings about it emotionally. 

The underlying motivations have always felt innocent and pure.  This hobby, if you could call it that, has proven to be a form of escapism not entirely socially accepted but one relatively free of guilt or risk.  An obsessive person in the most general sense, I do not spend the time others do digging deep into any one area; in fact, people who read comics religiously, unpack and play with their toys or invest hours of time into the latest video game scare me a little.  This is not passing judgment; there's a dedication there I find admirable.  I simply cannot find in me the dedication to invest that much time and energy into any one area, opting instead for a broader focus.

It is this broader focus that keeps me coming back to Ebay, flea markets, and yard sales every week.  I never have one specific thing in mind, and it can appear at first glance that my interest is fast and fleeting.  It has proven over time to be cyclical, however, as the desire for these objects never truly wane.  If anything, there are external factors that happen to be seasonal (e.g. the start and end of various sports seasons, the summertime movie schedule, various monthly/annual comic and card shows, etc.). Dedication at any level requires some level of investment, and these events provide the impetus to become excited again.

Of all the times in the year,  it is perhaps these first few weeks of May that are the most exciting.  There's a new potential blockbuster in theaters each week, similar to the high concept films of my youth.  The bright, sunny weather prompts people to throw open their garages, dust off their wares and pile them onto their front lawns for sale.  Baseball season is in full swing, and fans are excited to bust the latest wax.  It is this air of renewed spirit that motivates me now.

Although the excitement is primal, my interest in the toys, comic books, sports cards, movies and music of my youth is deconstructive (hence the blog's title).  For those that don't know, deconstruction is a school of philosophic thought centered around the principle that words and ideas only have meaning in context, and that meaning is often personal to the reader.  Simply put, a word cannot be truly understood until it means something to you, and it can hold different meanings for different people (particularly the author who wrote it or the person who said it aloud).  Therefore, consider this to be a blog about three key areas when it comes to collectables:

The Factual- The specifics of a particular item that can be referenced (e.g. the stars in a movie or the value of a comic book).  Sometimes reading facts can be interesting because we share an emotion connection with the item itself without further analysis or insight.  For example, I don't need to know anything about the box office success or cultural significance of the movie E.T. to know I saw it at an early age with my aunt.  Simply reading about it is enough to trigger a memory and re-forge that positive connection.

The Trivial- The technical, economic and sociocultural factors that make something enjoyable by a large audience and our appreciation timeless.  The story of how E.T.'s production team decided on Hershey's Reese's Pieces in lieu of Mars M&Ms to is an interesting anecdote that somehow makes you want to do two things: watch the movie again and eat chocolate and peanut butter candies.   I love researching and reading these stories, as they provide the context I need to understand why a film (or book, card, toy or song) is as important to others as it is to me.

The Psychological- Identifying the root causes of why we like what we like, investigating the underpinnings that motivate us to seek something out after years away from it.  Why do memories of past action motivate us to future action?

To start things off, I'm going to blog about the items I landed in this latest haul, listing what they are, how they came to be, and why they remain significant.  My hope is this journey will be a fruitful one of self-discovery, and I welcome you along.

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