The Collier Classification System for Very Small Objects

The Collier Classification System for Very Small Objects: An Introduction

Historically we have sought to know the world by categorizing and classifying what we see around us. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, natural philosophers such as John Ray (1627-1705); Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707-1788); and Carl von Linnaeus (1707-1778) worked to create universalized systems of classification that could be used to name all things found in nature. Their work was influential, and a slightly modified version of the original Linnaean Classification System is still used by scientists today.

There is, however, a whole universe of easily overlooked and forgotten things that remain unclassified by any unified taxonomy. Once noticed, these things, which I call Very Small Objects, can be found in every niche and corner in staggering numbers and varieties. We encounter these objects every day hidden in plain sight. They fill our pockets, cabinets, and corners. They populate our environments and make our machines work. They come from our plants, our pets, and even from our own bodies.

Because these objects come from diverse sources, and because they are comprised of non-living and never-living things, they cannot currently be grouped together under any existing classification system: systems in use today describe and name living things, metals, and minerals in isolation from each other. Current systems also exclude man-made objects from their catalogs of the natural world, ignoring the fact that “nature” has been profoundly affected by human by-products. Man-made objects have long been filling up our world and reshaping the very nature of “nature.” These man-made objects can often be quite indistinguishable from other “natural” Small Objects, particularly after long periods of exposure in harsh environments.

I have begun to address these glaring exclusions and oversights by creating a new system of classification to describe and categorize all Very Small Objects, regardless of their origin or composition, within a single comprehensive system.

Intentionally diverging from the existing classification strategies, this system employs an anglicized trinomial nomenclature. Each individual name is a composite of English-language fragments, and in some cases, whole words. The composite names are new and previously unknown under any language system.

My system is visibly influenced by pre-existing scientific nomenclatures. However, I reject Latin as an archaic language, disregarding the colorfully poetic position of authority that this language has held over matters of science. In my new system, rather than choosing the sounds of distant obsolescence, I have opted for the useful proximity of the everyday English that surrounds me. To the ever-expanding English-speaking world, this will at worst be no more disconnected than the unpronounceable verbiage of current scientific nomenclatures. The word fragments are designed to retain some familiarity with contemporary English speakers. As the English language continues its global expansion, I am positioning my system to become the dominant tool used to define the previously overlooked, piggybacking the system on the neocolonial language of international technology and commerce.

Unlike most of the scientists and naturalists who preceded me, I oppose the collection of still-living things. Consequently I do not include a category for still-living things in my system of Very Small Objects. Because there is no category for the still-living, the collection of living things in order to classify them under this system would necessitate the killing of the very small thing. I cannot endorse this perverse course of action and discourage my followers from using this system in such a morbid and destructive way. Every once-living object collected by me for the purposes of this taxonomic study was dead when I discovered it. The only deviations from this rule were objects carefully taken from a larger whole (generally plants) in a manner that did not adversely affect the larger organism. To my great dismay, some well-intentioned but confused contributors to the Master Collection killed small living things. In order for the tragic deaths of these small creatures to be meaningful, I have decided included them in the master collection.

-BD Collier, Creator of The Collier Classification System for Very Small Objects and Curator of The Very Small Object Master Collection