How are antiques like fish?

It’s the end of the year, every one is heading into winter hibernation mode and I was at a loss for what to write – which is rare.

There were many ways to end 2007: We could have done a look back at the year overall, at what great items sold for cheap, or for too much. What markets boomed and which busted. I could have talked about the shows and auctions that scored big, or those that couldn’t draw muster. Any of these things would have been acceptable, but still I was drawing a blank. Who wants to be so heavy at the end of the year?

When I queried my co-workers if they could think of a good, light subject, one of them proffered a plastic container with magnetic words and said, “whatever word you draw, write about that.”

Seemingly up to the challenge, I agreed and quickly drew the word “fish.”

Okay, then, here goes: How are antiques like fish?

Wait a minute. We need some ground rules first.

When asking that question, it must be noted that physical as well as philosophical comparisons can be made, along with literary, cultural or any other assessment I care to make.

Meaning that an argument could be that, physically, antiques are like fish in that there are always others in the “sea,” unless it’s something extinct like, say, a Monkey Spring pupfish, which lived in Arizona, was tiny and is now definitely all gone. Or I could say that, physically antiques are like fish in that the good ones are slippery, hard to catch and usually require a good fight to get into your boat. That I can definitely do in this challenge.

I could also, if I so choose, lay out diverse cultural philosophies, like, say, Japanese and American, and link them via my metaphorical test. An example might be the Japanese philosophy that time spent fishing, much like time spent searching for antiques, is time that is not counted against one’s life – unlike the Ice Capades, which counts double – and the good old American fishing tale about the one that got away. Who hasn’t had that one thing in your hand and set it down, only to realize later that you unwittingly let a big one go? I can then say they go hand in hand. That, too, I can definitely do.

I could also lay out my argument as a literary parallel, alluding to Melville’s Ahab and his relentless hunt for Moby Dick. Longtime antiquers – dealers and collectors alike – all have tales of their white whales, those antiques they’ve chased over decades and never quite pinned down. It would also be acceptable to just go simply Faulknerian on it: My antique is a fish.

It would, though, be out of line to apply the challenge to Western philosophies, because that would just give us all headaches. Plus, I don’t think the likes of Sartre, Descartes, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were particularly preoccupied with the ennui of fish or the relative material value of the relics of generations past. So that’s out.

With those few guidelines in place, I think that I am now up to the challenge of defining for you, and for myself, exactly what ways I could correlate antiques and fish. The problem, though, is that I’m out of space. Oh well.

Instead of pointless analogies and obscure metaphors, then, let me just leave it at this:

A happy and peaceful New Year to you all.


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