Part II. The Collection, Paradise of Consumption


Stewart, Susan. ‘Objects of Desire’ in On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (Durham; London: Duke University Press, 1993) pp.132-169

Part II. The Collection, Paradise of Consumption pp.151-169


In contrast to the souvenir, the collection offers example rather than sample, metaphor rather than metonymy.

 The collection replaces history with classification, with order beyond the realm of temporality. In the collection time is not something to be restored to an origin; rather, all time is made simultaneous or synchronous within the collection’s world.

The souvenir still bears a trace of use value in its instrumentability, but the collection represents the total aestheticisation of use value.


[The collection’s] function is not the restoration of context of origin but rather the creation of a new context, a context standing in for a metaphorical , rather than a contiguous, relation to the world of everyday life.

While the point of the souvenir may be remembering, or at least the invention of memory, the point of the collection is forgetting – starting again in such a way that a finite number of elements create, by virtue of their combination, an infinite reverie.


[…] each element within the collection is representative and works in combination toward the creation of a new whole that is the context of the collection itself.


The spatial whole of the collection supercedes the individual narratives that “lie behind it.”

Because the collection replaces origin with classification, thereby making temporality a spatial and material phenomonen, its existence is dependant upon principles of organization and categorization.


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