I grew up the daughter of a hoarder, although I hardly realized it during my childhood. My father is not the dramatic kind of hoarder that we can now see exposed on TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive” or Animal Planet’s “Confessions: Animal Hoarders.” Both programs have a certain shock value to them and I can’t seem to turn myself away as much as it makes me feel a dull nausea when I watch. I can relate, though, on various levels, to what is experienced both by the hoarders on display and the family and friends who intervene.
This blog isn’t so much about the hoarding instinct to which I know I am susceptible, or about living with a hoarder. Instead, it’s aimed at exploring how hoarding relates to memory, nostalgia, and identity. Why does the exile, the homeless person, the uprooted person hoard? What do those many emblems that accompany us actually represent? What cultural baggage do we bring with us when we’re ousted from our homes and how does the value change once implanted in a new location?
Most of all, I’m exploring the validity of this project. Can we hoard through words? images? What about the virtual hoarding that is socially acceptable and encouraged through facebook, twitter, and other social networking sites? We hoard animals and decorations in virtual zoos and farms; we even hoard our friends. When do we cross the line from collector, protector, preserver, conservationist, archivist to hoarder? The History Channel’s American Pickers … high-functioning hoarders or entrepreneurs? Or are they just making a buck from nostalgia, exploiting other people’s addictions?
This very blog is bound to be, if continued, a repository for collected words. How high will they be piled and where will be in the end?