Book Heaven

Where the world of books and life intersect

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Location: South Amboy, New Jersey

I am deeply involved in trying to solve the discrepancy between being interested in zen and trying to acquire all the things I've been accumulating

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Man Who Collected Lightbulbs

What kind of excuse can a man offer when asked why he was possessed to collect 75,000 lightbulbs? When psychiatrists came to interview Baltimore dentist Hugh Francis Hicks about his collecting, he pointed to someone even more obsessive -- William J. Hammer, an engineer who worked for Edison, who had collected 130,000 different bulbs. While that might have made his collection seem almost second rate, Hicks probably conveniently forgot to mention though one area in which the engineer probably wasn't as obsessive -- the times Hicks abandoned patients in the middle of dental procedures to give tours of his Museum of Incandescent Lighting.

I found this wonderful story in Michael Kimmelman's absorbing The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa (The Penguin Press, 2005 hc $24.95), a book that is not so much about collecting as it is about the relationship of art to our lives. From the front flap copy comes this explanation about the books' premise: "The idea behind The Accidental Masterpiece is that art provides us with clues about how to live our own lives more fully ... about how creating, collecting, and even just appreciating art can make living a daily masterpiece."

This is simply a wonderful book that can make you more concious of art and the world around you. I'll just leave you with the chapter headings which hopefully will intrigue you enough to make you look for this book:

  • The Art of Making a World
  • The Art of Being Artless
  • The Art of Having a Lofty Perspective
  • The Art of Making Art Without Lifting a Finger
  • The Art of Collecting Lightbulbs
  • The Art of Maximizing Your Time
  • The Art of Finding Yourself When You're Lost
  • The Art of Staring Productively at Naked Bodies
  • The Art of the Pilgrimage
  • The Art of Gum-Ball Machines, and Other Simple Pleasures

4 Comments:

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9:46 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

There's at least one chapter title that catches my attention, all right.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

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12:37 PM  
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