To Willing Conflators Of Walter Benjamin And Jeremy Todd (nine hundred and sixty third letter)

Dear Folks,
Perhaps the most deeply hidden motive of people who collect can be described this way: they take up the struggle against dispersion. Right from the start, great collectors are struck by the confusion, by the scatter, in which the things of the world continue to be found.
It is the same spectacle that so preoccupied the men of the Baroque, and now surrounds people such as you and I (the world image of past allegorists, and those of us now engaged with ongoing archival structures). It’s a preoccupation that can’t be explained apart from a passionate, distraught concern with this spectacle.
We are, it seems, the polar opposite of collectors. We’ve given up our attempts to elucidate things through research into their properties and relations. We dislodge things from their context and, from the outset, rely on our senses of profundity to illuminate their meanings.
Collectors, by contrast, bring together what belongs together; by keeping in mind their affinities and their succession in time, they hope they can eventually furnish information about their objects.
Nevertheless — and this is more important than all the differences that may exist between us — in every collector hides an artist-allegorist, and in every artist-allegorist a collector. Surely there is no one alive today who is not all of these things at once. Perhaps everyone is an artist and a collector. Archiving is most certainly a modern folk art — an archiving of all lived experience and its simulation too — an art for life and its representations.
As far as collectors are concerned, their collections are never complete; for when they discover just a single piece missing, everything they’ve collected remains a patchwork, which is what things are for allegory from the beginning.
On the other hand, artist-allegorists never have enough of things.
Objects represent only keywords in a secret dictionary
Nothing is capable of taking the place of an other. No amount of reflection can foresee the meanings to be claimed for each singularity.
I’ll write again shortly of course.
jeremy