Another garden-variety obsession
Perhaps the common denominator to all the things I get interested in is that they are completely useless and almost willfully inefficient. It is, after all, ridiculous to spend a full year rehearsing a play (as Stanislavski might have wished), and one can lead a very productive life without ever wading through Sallust's "The Jurganthine War" or knowing what a rood loft is. And poetry?
I hate to admit it, but fly fishing is just as needlessly inefficient and useless as my other obsessions. After all, the guy down the bank with a ten-dollar Zebco is catching just as many (if not more) trout. Moreover you can buy flies off the Internet for 59 cents apiece. So why would anyone start tying? Why buy a vise, bobbins and a whip finisher? I have no answer.
When I first began fly fishing, I would leaf through catalogs of fly patterns. There were pages and pages of bewilderingly complex patterns, each with variations in size and color. There were maybe 50 variations of a mayfly and at each stage of its life (pupa, nymph, emerger, adult, imago...). I felt as if I had somehow wandered into a Kabbalistic discussion. It's only recently that I've realized all this needless complexity has nothing to do with catching fish. I mean, really. Does anyone believe a creature with a pea-sized brain focused only on eating and not being eaten makes finely-honed discriminations about hackle feathers and peacock herl?
Needless complexity is perhaps the essence of any obsession. Occam's razor just doesn't apply. As with poetry, you really don't have to concern yourself with meter, assonance and metaphor to put an idea into words. It's just gets interesting when you do.