It was back in the day, in my mid-twenties, when I building my collection of jazz records.
My office in Chicago was just down the street from the then-famous Jazz Record Mart, the biggest store of its kind in the world. Years before Amazon came along, this was the closest thing to jazz heaven on the planet. I would spend my lunch break there, a couple of times a week.
You need to understand, for a certain type of “Otaku”, a record isn’t just a pleasant piece of music to listen to, it’s more like a “sound map” one uses to navigate one’s own internal landscape. Sure, somebody else may have drawn the map for you (in my case, somebody like Miles Davis or Coleman Hawkins), but it was you, yourself that was extracting the real meaning from the experience.
The thing is, of course, it’s an easy thing to overdo. Suddenly, you can find yourself caring far too much for your record collection, and not caring nearly enough for other things say, like making a living, or having a bath, or interacting with other people. It’s easy to over-nerd on it and lose yourself in the process.
That’s the downside. The upside is, it’s a risk worth taking. You’re on a journey that, at least as far as you’re concerned, is taking you somewhere nobody else has ever been, and giving your existence an extra dimension it would otherwise never have.
It’s easy to laugh at the Otaku. What’s far harder is finding something that adds both richness and meaning to life in a significant way.