Once worn by

‘Recently, I asked the students in my seminar what things they owned that they considered meaningful. One young woman sheepishly admitted that she owned a shirt once worn by Jerry Seinfeld, which she had brought on eBay. All the students agreed that Seinfeld once having worn the shirt gave it value and meaning. Exactly what meaning they couldn’t articulate. “But it was worn by Jerry Seinfeld!” was the best they could do.

“But if you didn’t know it had been worn by Jerry Seinfeld,” I asked, “would it have any special value?”

“No, absolutely not” was the reply.

“So the value is in your head and not really in the shirt?”

The students objected, saying that something of the essence of Seinfeld was connected to the shirt, as if he had left some part of himself there, even though the shirt had been laundered.

“Even if this was true, so what? Why would that give it value?” I asked.

“Because then you would be connected to Jerry Seinfeld” was the response.’

 

Excerpt from pages 44 & 45; ‘Stuff. Compulsive hoarding and the meaning of things’. Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee, Mariner Books, New York, 2010.

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