Things Thinging

I may be a little late to the table on this one. “All My Life for Sale” is a project devised by John Freyer in which he catalogued and sold nearly everything that he owned on eBay (the last item sold was the website domain itself to the University of Iowa Museum of Art on August 11, 2001). Hearing his story on NPR, I immediately felt a modest kinship, having recently culled through most of my own worldly possessions — selling books and electronics, donating clothes and random miscellanea, finally abandoning vinyl and audio and video tape, shredding all but a few of my handwritten writings from over the years, and generally purging all but what I might call the “bare essentials.” While not nearly as thorough a divestment as Freyer’s, the act produced in me an anxious sense of both liberation and dread. No doubt, as a kind of antidote, the next phase will be marked by accumulation. And so it goes.

For Freyer, his project lives on as a travelogue documenting his visits to his sold life, the things that are now hinged to the lives of their winning bidders. Freyer claims the project has become much less about the things themselves and more about the people he’s met through and between them.

Of related note and interest, The Dead Media Project, originally organized by science fiction novelist, Bruce Sterling, chronicles those devices and technologies once but no longer used to record, represent, transmit, transport, translate, save, project, amplify, or otherwise communicate human experience. The list seems a bit dead too these days, but still offers a great archive and reminder of just how transient and fragile our messages can be.