Manufacturing your own Wunderkammer
By Yage Wang
During both my writing classes and casual conversations with friends, writing is often agreed upon as intimidating. We often feel as if writing is like holding a microphone in hand while everything we say through that speaker is magnified with a stupid stance. With a mindset like that, we have no resolution for the fear but consistently return to the origin of that fear. Two factors trigger this fear: either we have an empty head, no inspirations, no enthusiastic feelings to input, or we uphold too much self-esteem that constrains us from thoroughly expressing our sentiment. I would like to offer a writing mechanism for you to practice using on such fears until, eventually, you’re confident in honing your writing skills. I call it “manufacturing your own Wunderkammer.”
“Wunderkammer” is a German word that translates as the cabinet of curiosities. By definition, Wunderkammer stores and exhibits offer a wide variety of objects and artifacts, with a particular leaning towards the rare, eclectic, and esoteric. The philosophy is that “through the selection of objects, they told a particular story about the world and its history.” So, what does it mean to manufacture our own Wunderkammer?
In general, we should first immerse ourselves in a variety of reading, accumulate ideas, and make connections with great thinkers across time. Then, having a notebook of inspiring quotes and ideas, and reflecting on them will help construct a Wunderkammer in our mind, like the mind palace in BBC’s Sherlock Holmes. Those precious things we treasure up will surely lead to a burst of imaginative fountains in our empty vase that we can then pour out to others.
Reading until this point, some of you might question the originality of our writing if we are constantly absorbing the nutrition from the previous literary giants. And, to some extent, Wunderkammer will remain a romanticized expression if we skip the last and most significant step– we need to invite people into this wonderful and generous house of information, in which we share and potentially even become source of imaginative knowledge.
Writing will still and always be intimidating, but just like Hemingway states, “There’s nothing to writing, all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” The lucky thing is, we get to choose whom we are sharing our writing with, and who obtains the privilege of entering our Wunderkammer.