Unpacking My Library RC

When reading Unpacking My Library by Benjamin Walter, I discovered something that I never really thought about before. That is possessing something that is yours physically (such as a book), that you own, but the information within the book is not just your own. The information you are obtaining is being obtained and gathered and analyzed and connected with someone else as well. Between the three essays with Monson, Dibbell, and Benjamin, collecting something is precious. For me, when I was younger, my CD and book collections were precious to me, because they were mine. They are what I accomplished reading or listened to and contained sentimental value.

I think that as culture and society is changing, we are the ones who get to choose whether we want to continue going through the experience of buying a CD, or using a walkman, or using a kindle or actual book. There is no right or wrong in our choices, but it seems now that people are choosing the more convenient choice. I think what is important is the pleasure that one feels with their own collection of things. Such as Benjamin. He takes pride and love in his collection and is reminded of that every time he looks or reads one of the books again. As for music, music is free no matter what. I have a lot of respect for artists, and they should earn money for something they are working hard for. But I do not think music should be limited to only buying it. You’re not JUST sharing your music for they money, you’re sharing it because it is something you love and you want your fans to love it purely as much as you do.

A Collector’s Point Of View (Library/Cd Collection)

Unpacking my Library by Walter Benjamin, was an interesting read to me because it is completely different from the readings we have been doing in class so far. Benjamin speaks about his collection and what it means to collect from different perspectives and reasons. Some people collect just because it’s something that they like to do, or for memory; but he also touches on how a collector feels much more attached to his or collection when it is something that they themselves produced, it holds more meaning in a sense. Benjamin talks about how collectors can sometimes not even be interested in the content of a book, but its craftsmanship and he even goes on to say that out of the hundreds of books that he owns he’s probably only read about one tenth.

I feel like Unpacking my CD collection is more of a “dumbed down” version of unpacking my Library because this collector focusses more on the collecting aspect. When it comes to CD’s there’s not really much craftsmanship to be aware of. Unpacking my CD collection definitely a more modern way at looking at collection because I  feel like collects because it’s something that he likes to do rather than focus on all the detail involved with his CD’s. In the end I think that this collector wants to understand his collection of CD’s and MP3’s on the same level that Benjamin understood his book:

“I’m talking about my MP3s. And I wish to God old Walter Benjamin were alive to articulate the complex pleasures their presence on my hard drive gives me. I wish he were here to suggest what is really new about this new kind of collection, and what this new kind of collecting might have to say about the shape of our desires right now, right here, at modernity’s latest leading edge.”Point

Dibbell, Monson, and Benjamin- Three Different Eras of Collecting

The three essays we read are based on collecting and gathering art, words, and pieces of information in one place. Monson talks about mix CDs, Benjamin talks about book collections and Dibbell talks about Napster and the beauty of “freeing” the music which was private once. The three pieces were written in different stages of information gathering and technology, thus they all have different views regarding collections of books and music.

Dibbell, I must say, has a really positive view on the modernity of collection. He acknowledges that they are not physical as before, but that the fact that they can be set free and shared- makes them precious. I certainly agree with him since I couldn’t picture myself going back to the 90s, to the times in which in order to listen to many songs from different artists I had to have a mix CD to put on my discman or Walkman, or rather have different CDs in a case and listen to a song at a time from each one. However, I understand where Benjamin and Monson come from, in terms of the love they had for their collections and the nostalgia they should feel knowing that times were going to change and technology would make all those disappear eventually. For instance, I refuse to read a book on Kindle version- it’s simply not the same as turning the pages and smelling them in a brand new book.

I believe that in the time of CDs, cassettes, and large library collections, there was some kind of passion towards one’s collections since there was some kind of effort put behind it. From getting the money to buy the CD or book, to appreciation to the person that gave it as a present. There was also some kind of pride in having it and the fact that there was an action that had to precede been able to listen to it or read it- made it more special. For instance, to play the CD, you had to put it inside your Walkman and hit play or put it inside a stereo while gathered with the family. I believe there was also some kind of social aspect into it and that’s another thing that made it more special. In the other hand, today, we can access music and books easily since they are all over the internet, but the achievement feeling when having and the social aspect/effort behind are totally gone.

All in all, I disagree with Dibbell when he criticizes Benjamin for feeling such love and appreciation towards his book collection. Aren’t we all allowed to feel like that towards something that we’re proud of or put some effort in? I’m sure he would appreciate how the internet has evolved and allowed everyone to access information, as me, but also would still fell proud of his collection and enjoy the smell of a brand new book.

Unpacking My Library

When reading Unpacking My Library by Walter Benjamin I found that a collector may collect items but that is not the reason behind collecting. If someone is given a room full of junk, it is nothing more than a room full of junk. When that stuff is collected over time and each item has a story behind it, then it becomes a collection. The emotional attachment to things is what makes a collection altogether, and at the same time it is only viewed as valuable in the eyes of the beholder. Others can marvel at what one has in crates, on shelves or in rooms filled to the top, but no one can have that same connection, that same love as the one who has acquired all of their treasures. Benjamin talked of his dusty crates and to me that is all that they would be, after his stories and all that he had to say about each individual book they are still only dusty books and a story I will soon forget. I do not have the connection to the books, so even though I know the stories they do not stick with me. I will remember the one time I was told about books and the passion he showed while educating me on his adventures but will not remember any individual item. Another thing that I noticed in his writing was when he was at the auction and the other man kept out bidding him on the books he really wanted. From that I can process that people only want what other people want, they may not care at all for the item but they just want to make sure that no one else has it. This represents the slow transformation of our society, in showing that we have become so materialistic that we will spend money on something that is unnecessary in order to out shine someone else. A collection is seen be outsiders as an abundance of items owned by one person but for the collector it is so much more.

Unpacking my Library (Record Collection)

Paul Eisele

Professor Proctor


October 23, 2014

Unpacking my Library talked about a man’s love for collecting books. Not just for the sake of reading them but the reading explained that to acquire a book isn’t simply about having the information it possess but also about the story of where the book has been, who has read it, and how it crossed its path with his. In this way, his experience collecting was a more than what other experienced when they walked into a book store looking for gifts or something to pass the time on a train. I almost think he pitied those who sought new editions or “luxury editions” because they miss out on the character and life only a used book has. Those who buy the new plain version miss out on what he thinks to be the most important part of the experience of getting a new book.

In Unpacking my Record Collection, Dibbell talked about converting his records and CD’s into MP3 files by using his computer. He explained that he thought this was a good idea because now it made music easier to upload and share with anyone. He used websites like “Napster” to share his music wiith strangers and also take music from them as well. He thinks about who these people are and what they are going to do with his music. He goes on to explain that a college boy who had his own collection of makeshift CD’s also had a love of collecting music and compiling it, not to have the music itself but to have so much information and in turn, history compiled onto a few CD’s that hung on his wall.

I think Benjamin would be appalled by this method of collecting and sharing. He talked about the sacredness of having a relic with a story and history behind it, Dibbell talked about having information files as being glorious. Files that were stripped from their places of origin like CD’s and records that would have the story, in this way, one is glorifying having the actual piece while the other focuses on the essence of the file – stripped and sterile, with no story behind it.

Unpacking my Library – relationship with information

In “Unpacking my Library” by Walter Benjamin, he talks about his relationship, as a collector, to his collection of old books. He links his collecting of books to his relationship with information contained within his book collection. In regards to whether collectors, such as himself, actually read the contents within every item that is added to the collection, he quotes from Anatole Francis when answering a question from a philistine who was “admiring his library” and asks, “And have you read all of these books Monsieur Francis?’ ‘ Not one-tenth of them. I don’t suppose you use your Sevres China every day?”(62). This analogy parallels to the point that Benjamin is trying to convey to the readers on his relationship with information. He asserts that the act of collecting books is not solely to gain knowledge, but to admire and obtain something that has a set of intrinsic value to the collector who is able to appreciate it for it’s history, content, and at times, its rarity. Furthermore, it seems almost counter-intuitive at first glance, that a collector has a vast collection of books, not for informational purposes but for its meaning to the collector when first sought out. However, as Benjamin delves into the reason why he has a vast collection of book, its for the memories that are brought about when first acquiring the item and the history and sense of nostalgia that was never lived by the collector but is well appreciated for.


After reading Unpacking my Library I understood for the first time how does a collector feel and why does he feel like that thanks to Benjamin. This has undoubtedly been a very nice piece that explains us his feelings respecting his books, or his collection. Benjamin has a special bond with each of the books he purchased through his life. The author personal feelings with each of them as every single on of them has a different story for being on his shelves. Benjamin describes the act of the collection as “possession”, that’s what drives collectors crazy. They want to have their own and unique possessions, that no one else have. Benjamin didn’t read all the books he owned, but he loved the story after each of them as well as the experience he went through in order to obtain it.

On the other hand, Unpacking my record collection describes the experience of sharing his personal records collection with the whole world. This piece is a response to Unpacking my library that creates a great contrast between the way both authors feel regarding their collections. While Benjamin wants it to be completely private and unique, Julian Dibbell re-encounters his passion for collecting by sharing his own collection with other people and at the same time amplifying his collection by downloading other peoples’ tracks. Julian’s main concern is how would have Benjamin felt about Napster and if he would have considered Julian’s collection a “collection”.

It’s very interesting how two different people categorize two completely different ways of obtaining their possessions under the same taxon. Moreover, they both had different ways of satisfaction. Has the Internet shifted our definition of collection and ways of obtaining it?

Unpacking My Library

Walter Benjamin’s essay titled, “Unpacking My Library,” was a very light-hearted read, in which he explained the personal relationships between people and objects, using books and collections in general as an example. Benjamin explained that his personal book collection triggered a series of memories, to trips that he had taken, auctions he had attended, and books he had inherited from his mother, and that’s what makes collecting information magical. It’s interesting to realize that Benjamin never actually shared his collection with us, but instead shared with us his personal connections, and how the real relationship is one of ownership. It didn’t matter which books he actually collected, but rather that he was able to call these pieces “his,” this special intimacy.

If anything, collecting (or the acquisition of books, in Benjamin’s case) is giving the objects new life, freeing the information it contains. A collector sees an object for not what it is in the moment, but perhaps for what it once was: its past. The most interesting thing about this piece was Benjamin’s definition of what makes a collection and that, “the phenomenon of collecting loses its meaning as it loses its personal owner,” that a collection no longer is a collection when the owner does not see the intimate relationship between himself and the objects, when he loses the passion.

Julian Dibbell’s essay, “Unpacking My Record Collection,” is a response to Walter Benjamin’s piece, in which he discusses whether or not Benjamin would consider Dibbell’s collection of MP3s would actually be considered a collection. I personally think he would, because Dibbell explains that he picks and chooses whatever he wants to hear. Even though he “rips” music from his own records, he’s giving the MP3s a new life, much like Benjamin described in his essay. Dibbell’s “ripping” and “sharing” of music is freeing information in its own right. Yes he may not have had any elaborate stories in which he traveled to collect the music, but it doesn’t matter. Dibbell is showing us that in this new “digital age,” people cannot find that intimate relationship between people and their books, but people can still build their own libraries (like Dibbell has with MP3s), and hence as they build up their “digital libraries,” they unpack a few things about themselves.

My Lib & Record Collection

In “My Library” the author was displaying this idea that the relationship between a book collector and his possessions are important. Walter uses the word, ‘magic’ as a way to describe the relationship between the two. Between the book and the collector, there are memories that relive the past.

In regards to “My Record Collection” it has the same meaning but through music and internet. The idea of ripping then compressing into transferring is something we all can relate to. And because of the internet (which changes everyday) there are so many ways to collect and keep music. In this sense organization is key. A collector does not want anything to be lost in translation. Because of the memories and emotions that the collector is sharing/feeling, he/she HAS to organize in order to access things quickly. Everything has to be categorized or in sections because of that.

In regards to THE SOCIAL READER, I enjoyed reading this section (not because it was short) but I connected to this idea of ALWAYS-online. The reading stated, it can be label as an addiction, its instant gratification, and its over-whelming. I believe this is true because its easy access, we are constantly getting information, and its so much going on that it can be stressful and crazy sometimes. Technology brings out new ideas, people and information which leads to easy access. I would have to say I am definitely a digital native, I am connected through a series of devices and social media channels because I simply want to know whats going on. The idea of not knowing certain things does not work for me. I am sure everyone in the class agrees with me..If not I would like to hear what people have to say because its such an interesting topic.

Reaction Blog

I believe that Benjamin is saying that people develop chaos and disorganization when it ties to the relationship they have with information including him-self. Unpacking my library is a strong piece and from my understanding the message trying to be conveyed is that the organization of books can hold an important purpose. Information is developed and shared through the written word. Knowledge comes from books and it is what keeps people sane in a chaotic world. I think that Prof. Proctor assigned us material in first person to open our minds up to a new perspective and a different type of source that can potentially be useful. As I read these articles, I felt like I can relate to them on a more sincere level.

In our second reading Unpacking my record collection, I noticed that it is a response\reaction piece to Unpacking my library. In my opinion Dibbell made a creative piece. In his article he is suggesting that information is free and that most information is immaterial, like music. The difference between these two articles is the development and switch from old media to new media. Information travels whether it is coming from a book or the media. Often people fail to realize the potential in all forms of communication and sharing information. Although, the Internet has become very active in the world that we live in something’s aren’t explainable unless we open a book.