i’ve been collecting oxygen particles for most of my life. i’m a card-carrying member of the Australian Air Fanciers Association. yes, i am that serious. people think collectors are sad, lonely people. or maybe even a little obsessive. but honestly, air collecting is different. it is one of the most rewarding hobbies i’ve ever experienced. you probably haven’t heard of it. it’s very niche.
unlike most collectors, i don’t fetishise a particular object. i am not so possessive. i allow my air particles to come and go as they please. air collection isn’t product accumulation. for me, it’s spiritual. meditative.
it is also one of the cheapest and easiest hobbies you can have! at no cost to myself, i sit in my lounge room, and let particles of air drift in and out of my window. when i was a kid, i collected as much air as i could in small jars that i lined up on a bookshelf. getting the right kind of undisturbed, pure air was a trial. i would turn my head, hold my breath (so not to dirty the ambient air with carbon dioxide) and hold the jar open for about thirty seconds. then i would seal it up and place it on my bookshelf.
those jars are still with me. that’s my first air collection, and it is rather modest. my new air collection floats freely around an apartment i actually can’t afford. lucky my hobby costs me nothing.
unfortunately, not everything costs nothing. after losing my job and exhausting all my credit cards, i was evicted. i got to take my jars, but what was i to do about the air in the apartment? i raised the issue with the landlord, who screamed and raised her hand to me!
—you don’t own the air in there, she said.
—I beg to differ.
her scowl softened to an indignant smirk, as she asked me to elaborate. i put the box of jars on the ground, smoothed my cardigan and began my treatise, which was paraphrased from the Australian Air Fanciers Association handbook, section 23, ‘Defending your Rights to your Collection.’
i was the first to claim the air that passes through that apartment, so it is mine. this is the first possession theory of property.
—you can’t own air.
—i claimed it before anyone else.
—you’ve got air in your head, mate, she said as she left me alone in the hallway outside my old apartment with my box of air-jars. secretly, i hoped she was right. air is really rather special.