The Pleasure of Ephemera

I was thinking the other day of how modern culture has changed my take on enjoyment.

We live in a time when you can get any movie or TV show or book you want. For filmed entertainment, you simply order a DVD or subscribe to a cable channel or do some searching online or, in worst case, see if you can find someone on Usenet who’s willing to dub it for you. (That’s how I got my complete run of Probe, Isaac Asimov’s series, for my final paper in television class.) For print, if it’s not available for internet purchase, there’s inter-library loan.

And yet… lately, I find myself thinking that I don’t need to repeat things. I really enjoy watching Bones, for instance, but only in first run. I don’t need to rewatch episodes I’ve already seen, because I won’t learn anything new about the characters (and the cases are pretty gross).

Similarly, I’m getting rid of more and more of my books and comics. I’ve got more than I’ll ever be able to read, let alone reread. The good ones, those I’ll want to revisit in future years, I keep, of course, but that’s not a majority of what comes into the house these days. I’d rather not have the psychic hassle of all these karmically weighty objects around the house.

In short, I’m taking more pleasure in the experience, less in the object. And I think it’s a good thing.

7 Responses to “The Pleasure of Ephemera”

  1. Ian Brill Says:

    I’ve always believed in the wisdom expounded in Buddhism, that attachment leads to suffering. I enjoy gaining knowledge from books and DVDs but I usually find no interest in valuing the object, no matter how cool some “collector’s editions” look. It’s easier to spend money things when you tell yourself you’re going to sell it or donate it anyway. Like you I’m liking the feeling of getting rid of something and not worrying about where to store hundreds of books.

  2. Darren Witt Says:

    Rather a similar issue that i am dealing with right now. An imminent move far, far away (and maybe a house, i hope) has me reconsidering the 28+ boxes of nostalgia that i have in the basement – all comics over 5 years old that i rarely (very rarely) have reread. But it feels good to have them. Except if i have to lift them or pay for storage. So i am trying to dispose of them through charity (womens’ shelters, hospitals, etc.) and selling. But am finding the selling to be problematic. I don’t have the time or inclination to deal with many, many sales over Ebay – and from what i can see, many things that i have don’t sell for even small amounts – and the local market is pretty slow for floppies.

    So what then?

    I’m in a fog. But soon to be a fog with 28 fewer long boxes!


  3. Johanna Says:

    Ian, interesting perspective I should think more about. I’ve been going the other way with DVDs, rewatching favorites and enjoying having a library of them. (Although I just threw out some homemade videotapes circa 1989. I found it enlightening to note which movies I thought were worth owning back then (through TV taping) vs. which I’ve purchased now.)

    DW, not to sound obnoxious, but that’s yet another area where graphic novels are preferable: they’re easier to find new homes for, either through resale or donation. The selling is very difficult these days, especially with ebay ever more expensive to use. Have you looked into They have some strict rules, but they seem fair, and I like the way you can immediately see what they’ll give you for your issues.

  4. Ralf Haring Says:

    First eBay (but now mostly Amazon) has been a huge boon for me in getting rid of anything I’m not interested in revisiting in the future. For single issues, I’m no help. It’s a buyer’s market unless you have things like Miracleman, Flex Mentallo, or old old stuff.

    So, basically, me too. If I only moderately enjoyed, I now have no qualms about shipping it off to somebody else via Amazon. It doesn’t matter to me that I might just get $8 instead of $12 or whatever. The experience of the dvd or book or video game is usually worth the difference. And even if it only sells for peanuts, some money is better than none and I don’t have to store it.

  5. Paul Worthington Says:

    I’m also getting rid of just about all my old comics and books. I have not even read many of the new graphic novels I bought last year — I certainly won’t be re-reading many comics.
    As there is little if any resale value, I plan to give most of them away – -maybe charging just the shipping costs.
    As for Bones — I’m glad Fox has recently rerun so many episodes. I watched the first 2 or 3 shows last year and didn’t really care too much for it; but I got into it at the end of the first season, and I’ve enjoyed the second very much — so I was happy to be able to see all the first season episodes I’d missed last year.

  6. Johanna Says:

    Oh, good point — I’ve heard several people say they’ve tried and enjoyed the show during rerun season. That’s an approach that was almost forgotten but does bring some benefits, rerunning a show when it’s not in competition with something more popular.

  7. Estara Says:

    Heh, you US people have it easy, trying to sell in a market with the same language. I gave my 15 years love affair with Marvel and DC away to a teacher colleague who still reads and collects US comics, after I realised I was never going to reread then, when I hadn’t opened them in the last ten years after first reading.

    I kept my Calvin & Hobbes collection and some Hagar the Terrible and Bone by Jeff Smith and assorted non-Superhero comics.

    Getting wiser sooner I have been cultivating students who also read manga to give those away that I didn’t like enough to reread (I’ve a friend from university years for all the scifi/fantasy/romance novels). I’m so happy not to be the only nonnative reader of English around, although we are not a majority ^^.




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