We can observe in this rhythm the essential ambiguity, let’s call it the basic fetishism, of every collection. Nothing is relinquished, everything is maintained, but only in effigy or in miniature: the object is put into quotation marks, becoming a specimen or example of itself; dead on arrival, it requires supplementing by a further instance, and so on. This is why every acquisition in the collection is strictly the next-to-last acquisition. A relentless drive to accumulation is sustained by the secret knowledge that the object is destroyed in the moment of possession. As the object enters the collection, I take stock of it, I index it, I name it, I assert my mastery over it, I miniaturize it, and in this very moment I concede its irretrievable disappearance. Hence my unappeasable need for more and more. I take an imprint of the thing, as if making a death mask, and in this way I surreptitiously take leave of it without quite having to relinquish it. Every collection can be seen in this light as an act of impossible or interminable mourning: I destroy what I acquire and assume perverse ownership of what I relinquish.

Rebecca Comay, “Proust’s Remains”