On November 5, 2020, I am giving a talk at UCSB's Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, called The Creative Edge of Collecting. Accessible by zoom.
In March 2013 I gave a talk called
Looking at My Life™: Thirty Years a Cereal Collector
at the Popular Culture Association conference in Washington D.C.
This was my topic:
My life has nearly coincided with the history of Life cereal, which was devised by Quaker as a sweet yet somewhat nutritious cereal in 1961. I also began collecting Life in 1981, along with the boxes of many other cereals. Then, starting in 2001, I started (re)collecting my life in the lower-case sense, by writing a memoir. I wrote in that book about how collecting took place almost unnoticed in the background of my life, which in retrospect seems astonishing, considering the thousands of items I collected. Since then, I have been looking at what is in these collections, and that has involved an opening—unboxing the boxes. I single out my 80 Life boxes not because it is the largest category, but because it seems as good place as any to begin an investigation of how my collecting reflects my consumption, how in a sense I am the Life I ate.
In June 2019, I created a "performance event," called
Tree of Life™
in the Modern Dance Studio at UC Santa Barbara.
With the assistance of my daughters, Ruthie and Eva, I laid out my entire cereal box collection, which at that time consisted of about 2300 boxes (maybe 200 of which were duplicates). The event was open to the public to watch as the "tree" was being created. It turned out to have a "vine" of Wheaties boxes, creating a walkway so you could go through the tree. Here is a link to a time-lapse movie of the event, made by Mark Moskowitz: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6r3odp2hq815zj1/Timelapse_music1_cc.mp4?dl=0(link is external) Mark and his company, POV, are in the process of creating a film about the things people own.
My collecting was also featured in another movie:
Obsessive Possessives, made by Louisa Achille for Radio Free Alice. You can stream it here: http://radiofreealice.com/film.html(link is external)