In his piece, Pomian intends to show that the range of activities to which the idea of “collecting” or the “collection” can be applied to is very wide. He discusses how collections form and have been formed over the years, the significance of collections, and his idea of the visible versus the invisible of a collection. Pomian writes that the visible entails everything that you can see at first glance, like the size, shape, colors, supposed function, and material of an object. Meanwhile, the invisible is what makes each object in a collection to crucial to the collection. A given object in a collection may not be very valuable alone, but when placed with the other objects in the collection, it is given way more value.
In his piece, Eco details cabinets of wonder. Some cabinets of wonder “tried to systematically collect all the things that ought to be known” and others collected things that were extraordinary and unique. These collections seem astounding by Eco’s descriptions. Some of these collections contained curious objects and animals, like stuffed crocodiles hanging from a keystone. I think that Eco wrote that these cabinets of wonder “symbolize[d] the dream of total scientific knowledge” because they were so forward-thinking and because they exposed people to such an array of objects. The raw nature of these objects forced people to think about them through a deep scientific and analytical lense.
The main point that I received from Pomian’s piece on collections is that collections can literally entail anything. What a collection is is up to the individual’s creativity and discretion. Pomian believes that a collection is valuable if the connection of the objects within the collection means something (and this meaning can be anything). He even references a lady in Poland who collects orange, lemon, and grapefruit wrappings. Meanwhile, Eco’s view on collections (or cabinets of wonder) comes from a more scientific-based approach. Unlike Pomian, Eco was interested in these cabinets of wonder that intended to collect objects that had a tangible importance. The objects in cabinets of wonder were collected and placed to educate people on connections and themes that the collectors believed were very worth knowing about.
One question that I have is what types and groups of people had access to these cabinets of wonder.