Sunday, June 25, 2017

Adaptation (Thoughts on collecting and the passion that goes into it)

All summer long, I've been meaning to post the cards I have in hand.  The pile is months old (Possibly years old), and includes an awesome recent trade return from Bob Walk the Plank.

But I keep finding myself lost in other activities.  Trying to rank up to diamond in Overwatch on the XBox One.  Trying to level up to Level 33 in Pokemon Go (And still trying to get a Tyranitar).

Lately though, I've mostly been reading and watching movies rented from the library, a throwback to my college days.  My most recent read ties in well, I think, to the idea of passions, collecting, and moving between different hobbies.  So I thought I'd share a quote from it below.

The book "The Orchid Thief" by Susan Orlean, is a non-fiction book about a woman, Orlean, who got to know an "orchid thief" in Florida.  He stole some orchids from a swamp in Florida with some Seminole Indians, and her writings explore this case but also spill over into the passions of orchid collectors and the passions of this thief, John Laroche, who moves from collecting Ice Age Fossils to Orchids to helping people build porn sites depending on his given passion at the moment.  If any of you are aware of this story at all, it's likely through the excellent movie Adaptation, which was screenwritten by Charlie Kaufman and stars Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep.  It's a really good, albeit odd, movie, worth watching.  Here's the trailer:

The movie is very "meta," constantly breaking the 4th wall.  It's also really captures collecting and the passions behind that concept.  It struck a lot of good chords with me on first watch, and after seeing it again recently I had to read the book.  And after finishing the book, I had to share a snippet that I really related to as a collector, cardboard or otherwise.

On page 279, Orlean writes:

     "Do you collect anything?" he (John Laroche) asked.

     "Not really," I (Susan Orlean) said.

     "It's not really about collecting the thing itself," Laroche went on.  "It's about getting immersed in something, and learning about it, and having it become part of your life.  It's a kind of direction."  He stopped on the word "direction" and chortled.  "If anybody had a plant I didn't have, I made sure to get it.  It was like a heroin addiction.  If I ever had money I would spend it on plants.  When my wife and I had our nursery, we had forty thousand just totally unimaginable plants."

     "Your favorite?"

     He scuffled his heel in the dirt.  "I think it would have to be this little Boesenbergia ornata, this gorgeous little ginger plant a friend got me in New Zealand.  It had first been collected a hundred years ago, and I think I had the only one in cultivation.  It had these tiny round leaves, sort of brownish with silver chevron markings.  I swear it looked like it was made out of crystal.  And it had an amazing huge orange flower too."

     I asked if he still had it.  "I don't have ANY plants anymore," he said, crossly.  "I sold that one for nine hundred dollars and sent a cutting of it to Kew Gardens."

This quote might speak to some of you, but it definitely speaks to me strongly, especially the part I put in blue.  I remember, with collecting cards, be it Seneca Wallace, or weird names, or Fred McGriff (throwback), or whatever, just gaining that specialized knowledge around my collection.  I knew the "rare" cards, I knew info about certain sets, I learned Blowout, I learned more about Ebay, and I just poured myself into all of it.

And while it's still around in my head (unlike Laroche who obsesses and then is done with that thing when he moves on), I find myself moving on and obsessing over new passions.  I do research on the best turret locations for Symmetra on Kings Row in Overwatch.  I recently joined the local Pokemon Go discord to teamup more against gyms, and I've walked local friends through the concept of raids based on what I read on Reddit.

The priority of my passions has changed, but I'm still immersing myself into the world of whatever passion I have at the moment, gaining all this very specific knowledge and using it to push my passion as far as I can in that given area.  I think it's one of the cool things about passions - the way some of us devote ourselves so strongly to really KNOWING what we're interested in, even if it's not something that we passionate about at that level forever.  Life is an interesting thing.

Anyways, just wanted to share that, as it resonated a lot with me.  Cardswise, I'm hopeful that I'll scan and add all the cards in my scanning "queue" in the coming month, if I can find time away from my other passions.

1 comment:

  1. I don't read a lot of books, but if I ran across that passage... I would immediately thought of cards too.