melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2015-12-22 03:23 pm

The flower of benefit is Amaat whole and entire

Sorry, slight hiatus in December talky due to bears. (Why is it that it was like pulling teeth to get 2000 words for Yuletide but I'm over 20,000 for dw posts this month already, without even trying hard?)

Next one on the list is to talk about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I had heard about this off and on, and then they discussed it on Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap and it sounded maybe worth reading? Also short, and I needed to catch up on my goodreads reading challenge. And then I discovered that while there were over 200 holds on the library copies, nobody seemed to have noticed we had a playaway edition, so I checked that out, and listened to it all on one Saturday. While I was helping sort through other folks' excess crap, natch.

If you have never heard of this, it's a book by Marie Kondo about decluttering that was recently translated into English from Japanese and has been extremely popular among the sort of people who read books about decluttering (and was apparently already super-popular in Japan.) It has a lot of good advice and also makes a lot of really large claims about what its methods can do. I don't have a copy on hand and I know absolutely nothing about the whole culture that has apparently grown up around KonMari, so instead you just get some disorganized thoughts in not particular order:

  • I don't want to use the word evil here, but "when I was a teenager I would constantly throw away my siblings' stuff and then lie and say they must have done it themselves" is not a light, funny anecdote from your idyllic childhood, ok. It's just really not. It's not.

  • Also, speaking as a person who also sometimes stayed after school to organize the shelves, and who is notoriously lacking in social skills or motivation, KonMari really doesn't seem to have. A life. I'm sure some of it is trying to trim the book down to essentials, but, wow. Way to motivate me to emulate you there.

  • A lot of her basic advice is stuff I was already doing? Obviously when you do a big clearing-out, you do it by category rather than space, obviously you start any tidying by making a giant mess on the living room floor, etc. IDK, she talks about how people aren't taught how to do this, but I was? It was a thing we did, we learned.

  • Also there's some kind of translation weirdness going on here with the word 'tidy'. She talks about how doing a small amount of tidying every day is pointless, you should just do one big tidy and be finished forever. But then she describes her routine coming home every night, and it's what I would call "maintenance tidying". So. Yeah, if your house is utter chaos to the extent you can't live in it, then I'd agree it works better for me do to it in big cleaning jags than 'a little a day'. The 'little a day' tidying is for when the house is in a tolerable state and you want to keep it that way. I've been doing that for awhile - 'tidy your nest area' was my first habitica daily - and it really really helps. The English version of the book claims that's not tidying, but it really really is.

  • She also does not seem to make allowances for exhaustion. Like. Physical exhaustion - I'm not physically disabled, but I'm not exactly in marathon shape, and by the time I've hauled all my clothes or all my papers into a pile, that's it, I'm done moving for awhile. I can only imagine what that would be like for people working around more specific limitations. When she's working with clients she must allow for pure physical limits being hit, surely? But the book doesn't really.

  • There's also a thing called Decision Fatigue, where after you've made a lot of choices, your choices get worse and worse, and then eventually you're just done, your brain will not decide things anymore? This is a part of being human (I was first taught about it in teacher training) and a real thing. Last year, when I liveblogged the bag of STUFF, I made it through deciding about 250 items before I was just. Plain. Done. That seems to be about right, for me, for one session. And again, there are certain brain types that make that even harder. KonMari seems to be ignoring this, or possibly exploiting it, by pressuring people to keep deciding even after they're DONE, and then holding them to those choices. (This might get you progress, actually, if it's stuff that people really should get rid of but can't get there, bluescreening the brain first might get you something you can work with, but it really, really doesn't for me, I suspect I would end up in tears if I had someone pushing me to get rid of stuff once I hit that point.)

  • In theory I like the idea of "if it doesn't give you joy, get rid of it", but if I lived by that rule, I would, for example, not have any clothes for formal occasions. She must live in a little bubble of people who can do things like just walk into a clothing store and find enough clothes that are attractive, fit, are durable and comfortable and have pockets and aren't see-through that she can then sort out only the ones that are joyful. This is an experience I have never had (and I'm not even plus-sized!) Also, "if I ever need one of these, I will already have one, and not have to go #$%@# shopping to get one" is a thought that brings me great joy. She must live in a little bubble of people who actively enjoy going to stores.

  • I go by, "does the present or predicted practical or emotional benefit of having this outweigh the emotional or practical hassle of storing it? If so, keep." Let's pretend that is what the book is translating as 'joy'.

  • On that note, there's a certain type of "simplicity" movement that is really, really conspicuously consumerist, isn't there? Actually several types, because after all, if they can't sell you useless crap, what's the point of promoting it until it becomes a fad? KonMari at least doesn't do that - her constant reminders that buying stuff to help you have less stuff makes 0 sense and never works are so refreshing for something like this. But.

  • No. I can't just "go buy another one" if it turns out I needed it after all. They cost money. Shopping costs gas and travel time (or shipping costs and time) (or spoons). Often, if I only need one once in awhile, I would have to buy a whole box every time, and then throw out the extras every time. Or I could just keep the box, and always have one. Also I hate retail stores, they make my head hurt, and I'm a bred-in-the-bone cheapskate, so chances are if I have it, I got it used for little-or-nothing, so no, I can't just stroll into the once-a-year rummage sale and buy another one for a quarter. Of course, I am not someone who is going to hire an expensive and prestigious clutter consultant, either.

  • I do, in fact, sew buttons back onto clothes. Some of my sweaters are on their third set of replacement buttons. I also replace elastic and zippers, solder broken electronics and jerry-rig things out of bits of old lumber and bicycle inner tube. Look, people keep scrap metal piles in the back yard because having scrap metal around is useful, not because they're inherently untidy.

  • Also I probably couldn't just walk into a store and buy it anyway, if I though I could do that, I wouldn't have bought it in the first place. If it's a book where I could get it from the library on ebook with no hassle, I probably didn't bother buying it, because hey, if I want to read it, I can just get an ebook from the library or the internet! Most of my books are the kind of things that I would have to get ILL from a university, if then. I know: I've tried. Or I could order used copies online and hope they were available and not way overpriced and pay and wait for shipping, but why do that when I can just keep the copy I have now? (OR they are books that I love a lot and want to cuddle with forever. Maybe KonMari thinks nobody needs more than a dozen books for that purpose, but she's wrong.)

  • ...luckily she makes an exception for writers having ludicrously large book collections. Whew. I'm safe then. (Why only writers? Do other people never need to read about obscure topics? Are only writers allowed to have broadly inquiring minds? Who reads all the books they write then?)

  • So this one time, I was helping someone who was moving to a retirement home clear out all their junk, and was having dark thoughts about the accumulation of consumer goods, and thinking I should go home and get rid of all my books. And then we found a 100-year-old Egyptian silk applique wall hanging, and they gave it to me, and I was trying to figure out the iconography and the hieroglyphs, but then I realized it pre-dated the decipherment of hieroglyphs, and that therefore it was probably just something cadged together for the tourist trade from best guesses, and I was like "gosh, I wish I had somewhere I could look up what tourists in the 1920s thought ancient Egyptian iconography meant." And then I remembered that actually, I had recently bought a facsimile of a 1920s tourists' guide to Egyptian monuments!

  • The moral of this story is fuck you I do indeed need every one of those books ok.

  • So. Something that very rarely gets talked about in these books is that sometimes, having a messy space rather than a tidy one is a good thing for which you have rational reasons. For example, I expect Marie Kondo's siblings kept their spaces in utter chaos so that Marie Kondo could not find their stuff, throw it out, and then lie about it. In my personal life, I spent a fair amount of time beating myself up over the fact that if I'm living in a household of more than one person, the floor of my private space immediately gets covered in dirty laundry, and stays that way. And then one time I actually made a resolution to stop doing that, to keep my space organized and welcoming - and. Well. The problem with having a welcoming space is that then people feel welcomed. And come into your space. And stay there to chat. Ugh. After two weeks of people walking into my bedroom while I was having alone time, just to talk to me, I went back to strewing clothes everywhere, this time without the guilt. They can talk to me from outside the doorway if they must. I'm sure there are other reasons, too. So if a messy space is your default, figure out if a messy space actually works better for you before you take drastic actions to stop having one.

  • I have started putting my clothes in the drawers vertically, like she describes. I was dubious but it couldn't have been worse that the previous state of affairs, and it actually is working pretty well so far! I can see everything, and they stay vertical better than I expected, and by the time they start falling over, the drawer is empty enough that it's not a problem that they're falling over. I don't know what drawers and/or clothes are like in Japan that that's a more efficient use of space that the previous method, though. My drawer dimensions + clothes dimensions don't work to let that be space-filling.

  • I also do really like the advice about saying thank you, you did a good job, to things when the hassle of owning them has finally outweighed the benefit but you still have good associations with them. I'd done that before when it was something that I had already anthropomorphized a lot, but I've started doing it with anything that gives me any pangs, and it really does help. Yay for openly acknowledging the inborn human attraction to animism.

  • ...that said I have been in a lot of religious buildings and I have never, ever been in one, no matter how theologically dedicated to simplicity, that did not somewhere have a back room or a large closet or an old shed that was full of randomly accumulated junk, 'just in case we need it some day'. Are Shinto shrines that different? I have trouble believing this. Unless Marie Kondo has been there and thrown it out and lied about it. They may need it some day, too, after all. And getting a small religious community to agree to throw stuff out is like trying to get a person to do it, except to the x power.

  • I really really want to try her advice to get rid of basically all the papers you've saved, even the ones that are supposed to be important. If I can get rid of my file cabinet, there will be room for another book shelf! I don't know that the hassle outweighs the benefit, though. If I ever do need to get replacements of any of them, that is a lot of hassle to deal with, I've had to do that kind of thing before. My Plan if I have a whole free day over the holiday is to do the pile-all-the-papers-on-the-living-room-floor thing. We'll find out!

  • That said I have several binders full of handouts from seminars that I do, in fact, refer back to on the regular. And I will not be getting rid of them anytime soon. So again, her advice seems to be aimed at people who are not me.

I am interested in this kind of philosophy not just because of its obvious relevance to my own life, but because I believe that my culture is in the middle of a huge demographic and economic transition that is specifically going to have to drastically change our relationship to stuff.

The obvious point of entry is the massive explosion in access to and availability of stuff that has happened over the past hundred years or so: if you grew up in my generation and have been experiencing the huge increase in access to information over the past thirty-ish years, imagine a change just as drastic in terms of access to stuff that our grandparents and great-grandparents lived through. (It had been building before that, but in the economic class and physical location my ancestors dealt with, the huge change came with the 20th century and then much moreso after WWII; it's hitting other parts of the world at different speeds, but it's getting everywhere.)

My great-grandparents had access to manufactured goods, but they were expensive and rare enough that they were generally carefully chosen and carefully cared for. My grandparents, still at basically the same relative socioeconomic level, had access to so much Stuff that one of my grandmothers was basically a low-level hoarder, and they all had "collections" and were dealing with the question of how to limit their accumulations of stuff on a regular basis.

My parents spent their whole lives with decluttering and so on as a regular chore and something you considered before any purchase, usually even moreso than the purchase price.

And in my generation, I do not know anybody who has not spent basically their whole life dealing with problems caused by too much stuff. Even the homeless people I’ve chatted with at the shelter: they have a lot of problems, including lack of access to quality things or things they actually need, but lack of access to stuff in general is not really one of them: they have all the stuff they can carry and lots of people and organizations trying to give them more.

(I wouldn't be surprised if some of the things that read wrong to me in KonMari are because that transition in access hit Japan at a different rate.)

But then there's the demographic transition as well. When the explosion of stuff was falling onto my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, it was synced with an explosion in people: all my grandparents had at least three, mostly a lot more, siblings who lived to adulthood; my mom had eight brothers and sisters. So when their parents died, the inheritance of stuff was divided among many heirs.

But my mom and her nine siblings between them only produced 14 grandkids (unless I miscounted, but that's the ballpark) - which seems like a lot, but remembering that each kid had two parents, it's well under the replacement rate (which would've been 18). Under theoretical conditions of inheritance by blood, then, they each average more than one person's worth of stuff inherited. My generation is still actively reproducing so it's harder to tell, plus I can't keep track of who are stepkids and who aren't, but they're nearly all in their mid-thirties or later and only at something like 75% of the kids they'd need for replacement rate of just their generation. So those kids will also each, in theory, inherit more than one parent's worth of stuff. Not counting their own stuff. And the fact that their parents will already have more than one parent's worth of stuff inherited.

Now, when you think of this in term of abstract wealth, theoretically it's great: each generation accumulates wealth from the previous simply by having more people to inherit from. My mom's siblings each got 1/9th of the money in their parents’ estate, whereas (theoretically) I'll get 1/2 of my parents'. Now, obviously in practice inheritance is not that neat, because money isn't evenly distributed, and even within that extended family some will get more and some less. But averaged out across the population, with a population that's even just stable, the amount of stuff left behind by each generation is going to be increasing relative to the number of people in the newer generations.

And, of course, most of that inheritance, for most people, is not going to be 'wealth'. It's going to be a collection of figurines of camels and six boxes of yarn stash and a shed full of old carpentry tools and three closets worth of clothes: stuff that's not easily convertible into liquid capital, and even if it was, somebody is going to end up with all the stuff after the exchanges are made. Or they throw up their hands on gaining benefit from it and it's in the landfill, at which point all the theoretical 'wealth' put into making it is lost, plus the landfill fills up.

So in the house where I currently live, we have stuff acquired by my sister (childless), by me (childless), by our mother, by our father, by Mom's parents (not much, and carefully curated, since it was split nine ways), by Dad's parents (quite a lot, and a lot if it in boxes in the shed and attic, since it was only split two ways), by my great-grandparents (not a huge amount, but what there is very carefully curated), by my childless great-aunt and uncle, by my childless great-aunt's childless aunt, and by several childless friends of the family.

And then I think about my cousins-once-removed on my dad's side of the family, where the fertility rate dropped a generation sooner. Unless I'm forgetting something on their in-laws’ side, in a perfect-inheritance theory the two of them will deal with stuff accumulated by their parents (split two ways); and then with their only two first cousins, they will split: their grandparents' stuff; two sets of great-grandparents' stuff; a childless great-uncle's stuff; and all of my family's stuff, unless me and my sister suddenly start reproducing. Including a box of photos that will at that point be photos of their dad's dad's brother's wife's mother's brother's wife's mother's sister's extended family. And then there's their mom's side of the family, where they will deal with (at minimum) their grandparents' stuff (most of which is already in their dad's basement) and at least one childless aunt, possibly more.

That's a pretty large pyramid to balance on its apex. By people who will have lower real income and less free time, if US trends continue. Without even including the large amounts of their own junk they're already accumulating.

Now, fertility rates (as distinct from total population) are decreasing worldwide ATM, though at different rates in different places (and there are a few places where it's still increasing, but not many.) For the sake of the planet and the species, I hope it keeps up: optimistic demographers have a theory that as the planet approaches carrying capacity (or as the carrying capacity of the planet declines) birthrate will go down to keep up, but who really knows - we have historically been terrible at predicting changes in birthrates. One thing that does seem to hold up, though, is that fertility rates drop dramatically during times of war and crisis. So if the predictions around climate change hold up (and so far, they have held up remarkably well) we'll probably keep seeing drops in birthrate regardless.

And if, by that point, the world economy is still built on accumulation of stuff, if we haven't managed a dramatic shift in the way the dominant globalizing culture thinks about material objects, we will find this contracting or stabilizing population drowned not only in seawater but in our recent ancestors' useless crap.

So. That is why I am vaguely interested in the wider theory of clutter, in a general sense.
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[personal profile] the_rck 2015-12-22 08:53 pm (UTC)(link)
I boggle at the thing about papers. Does she include birth certificates and titles and deeds and wills? Does she include the records the IRS will require if they audit you?

And, like you, if I went by joy, I wouldn't have certain types of clothes-- I definitely wouldn't own a single bra.

I think I end up with my living room kind of cluttered because I'm more comfortable that way. It feels like it's okay to hang out in my bathrobe all day if I need to, for example. The living room also tends to house transient things like library books and Netflix DVDs and baskets of clean laundry.

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[personal profile] ambyr 2015-12-22 09:14 pm (UTC)(link)
I've been thinking a lot about the disposition of Stuff ever since helping K sort through E's belongings last year. It's amazing how something can instantly flip from "treasured possession" to "landfill or goodwill?" Amazing, and a little disquieting.

I look around my house and wonder who will deal with my things when I'm gone, and how. And I feel some sense of responsibility for paring down as much as I can before I pass to spare them that task, because it is stressful and unpleasant and not what anyone wants to be doing in the immediate aftermath of a death--and yet, it has to be done.
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[personal profile] trobadora 2015-12-22 09:22 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't want to use the word evil here, but "when I was a teenager I would constantly throw away my siblings' stuff and then lie and say they must have done it themselves" is not a light, funny anecdote from your idyllic childhood, ok. It's just really not. It's not.

Yeah, wow. Anyone who can consider that a charming anecdote is not someone whose judgment I would be willing to trust on basically anything.
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[personal profile] lannamichaels 2015-12-23 02:34 am (UTC)(link)
Wow, yeah. I have some trust issues with my younger sister, but all she did was tattle every single thing I ever told her to someone who would use it to hurt me (leading to 10+ years of me never telling her anything). If she had thrown my things away... yeah, no. Nope.
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[personal profile] recessional 2015-12-22 09:44 pm (UTC)(link)
She talks about how doing a small amount of tidying every day is pointless, you should just do one big tidy and be finished forever.

And thus did a thousand people bite off way the fuck more than they can chew, fail at it, feel hideous and worthless, making it harder to motivate themselves to try again, and continue to live in mess.

Like this cycle is so well known there is an entire facet of CBT devoted to dealing with that kind of mindset and learning to set achievable goals because that cycle is a major cause and exacerbator of depression in anyone who either has a job literally bigger than you can do that way, or has any executive function difficulties whatsoever. (See also: the famous "clean ALL the things!"; that story is literally the flawless example of this cycle.)

Also you will literally never be finished forever unless you hermetically seal the building, which is WHY it's such a bad idea. You will have to continue to clean the things, because they will continue to get dirty. You will have to go to the bank like a motherfucking adult and buy groceries and vacuum and you will KEEP DOING THIS FOREVER, because that's what adulting means.

I mean, the One Big Clean is a nice thing, if you can hack it. It's how I used to like doing things, before the cognitive toll of years of depression started eating my various issues of executive function. It is nice to have that "sigh, done for a while :D" feeling. But it's also a very very high-risk-of-failure strategy, often working once or temporarily (see again: "CLEAN ALL THE THINGS! . . . Clean all the things? :(((((( ) and then creating an energy deficit that means that the collapse on the other side is even WORSE than the original state of mess.

Some people never have difficulty with any of those things. Some people haven't yet. Some people are really willing to sacrifice other parts of their life (leisure time, family time, creative time, sleep time) on the altar of Perfect Tidy.

And finally, ime blue-screening via decision fatigue is . . .not good. What usually happens is not a default towards "get rid of it", because in people who HAVE a lot of Stuff and have difficulty getting rid of it, getting rid of Stuff causes anxiety and thus the more stressed a person becomes the more they want to default to the thing that LESSENS the anxiety which is "KEEP EVERYTHING!" (For examples of this in action, see every episode of Hoarders ever: this meltdown is a consistent part of their dramatic episode structure.) Even if you do manage to get them to throw it all out in a fit of exhaustion, they will usually be angry/upset about not finding a thing later and get ever more entrenched in the idea that this means they should NEVER throw anything out because SEE SEE THIS PROVES THEY WANT IT LATER.

TL;DR: this book sounds exactly like the life-habits/tidiness version of a fad diet.

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[personal profile] ratcreature 2015-12-22 10:05 pm (UTC)(link)
I haven't read that book or any other decluttering one, because I get really aggravated by when minimalism and decluttering gets fetishized, but I did see that vertical clothes folding thing online on Pinterest and used it in some of my shelves and drawers (basically for underwear and t-shirts) and it really helps.

I do care about not accumulating too much stuff, because I live in a 40m² apartment that has neither attic nor cellar storage, and while I don't go out of my way to acquire things I do have problem discarding things, because I can see (re-)uses for most stuff, and sometimes I actually realize these. And I find many of decluttering guru guidelines just ridiculous.

I mean, clearly the "joy" metric doesn't work, because for all the reasons you point out, but even advice like "throw it out if you haven't used it in a year" wouldn't work for me at all. Like fairly frequently I go much longer than a year to use a particular art or crafts material, but I'm not going to throw out expensive set of colored pencils, or watercolors or whatever. Some of the tools I own I don't use often, but I do need them infrequently, and sure some of these you can borrow if you know others who have such tools, but that is more annoying than just owning a toolbox.

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[personal profile] the_rck 2015-12-22 10:53 pm (UTC)(link)
The haven't used it in a year would have had me throw out my only black dress (I've used it once in the about fifteen years I've had it-- for my grandfather's funeral in 2014). I don't have a lot of funerals to go to, but you know, they do happen and will happen in the future, and I'll be damned if I want to have to buy a new black dress every time I lose someone. My grandmother turned 90 this year. My parents and my in-laws are in their 70s. It's going to happen.

There are things that people do need again after a long time and need on short notice or at times when they can't easily shop.

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[personal profile] trobadora 2015-12-22 11:34 pm (UTC)(link)
"throw it out if you haven't used it in a year"

Yeah, I hear that so often - "if you don't use it in a year, chances are you'll never use it again!" And that's just not how things go for me, ever? Even things like funeral clothes aside, I often go for years without using or wearing something, and then go back to using/wearing it regularly ...

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[personal profile] espresso_addict 2015-12-22 11:16 pm (UTC)(link)
Before we moved here, my sister-in-law made me go through my late mother's books and throw as many out/give to charity as I could bear, and she made me keep on doing it long after decision fatigue had set in. It was a terribly weepy experience, but now -- with an entire room piled high with boxes of books that weren't thrown -- I can see that she was right to be insistent. (She didn't actually ditch any herself, just kept handing them to me...) I did actually throw some books in the paper recycling (they were not in a state one could give to charity), which was a lifetime first -- it felt like sacrilege.

We've been thinking about having a big bonfire of saved paper records, but haven't actually had the nerve to do it yet. Perhaps over Christmas. It would be nice to see the dining room floor...

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[personal profile] tassosss 2015-12-22 11:16 pm (UTC)(link)
My office mate read and went through the book and told me about the joy thing - she decided she would ignore it in to keep herself in work pants.

I"m currently in the midst of my finance moving in to my place, us getting the rest of his apartment cleared out and into my house or storage, and me needing to sort through my accumulated stuff to make room and get ready for a move to a bigger place in the coming year.

I'm definitively in a "throw it all away so it goes away" mode, though I haven't actually gotten that far, because I'm like you, in that I do a decent job at maintenance tidying, but big cleans are always hard because I know my own limits wrt time and decision making - my after-work time is precious and extremely limited.

My biggest problem right now is simply the movement of stuff: merging two people's things into new space means reevaluating where everything goes and confronting things that were sitting quietly in their own spaces until now. My other problem is gifts people give me, or stuff people give me for free, which half the time I probably shouldn't take, but hey, free semi-useful stuff. (My Christmas problem is people keep asking me what I want for Christmas, and don't believe me when all I want are itunes gift cards.)

My current strategy is one that [personal profile] ratcreature actually suggested, which is containment - put stuff in boxes and containers to at least get it tidy and mobile until I have brain space to decide whether to keep it or not.

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[personal profile] beatrice_otter 2015-12-23 02:02 am (UTC)(link)
"For example, I expect Marie Kondo's siblings kept their spaces in utter chaos so that Marie Kondo could not find their stuff, throw it out, and then lie about it."


I've never read the book, but when I talk with people who are big into decluttering they tend to have all the sorts of problems you point out.

But wow, is that an interesting point about inheritance of stuff.
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[personal profile] sara 2015-12-23 03:19 am (UTC)(link)
We got rid of almost half of what was in our house when we moved, just over a year ago now, and I'm in the midst of reviewing the boxes of stuff that haven't been opened since the move because if I haven't used it maybe I won't.

It's been a pleasant surprise how little of it I miss.

We have definitely been on the receiving end of a giant firehose of down-handed worldly goods, which in some ways has been great (we got my Nana's furniture, or some of it) and in other ways has been a massive hassle. After the experience of sorting through the belongings of three different women I knew, all of whom had hoarding problems and two of whom had cancer, and seeing how their lives were completely taken over by having to cope with all the Stuff, I think my own relationship with things changed considerably.

I do think it's not unusual for people, especially women, to acquire Stuff because it's a sort of security blanket if you've been deprived in some way. I can't imagine people in that situation being helped by getting rid of the things without the stressor also being addressed. Each of the women whose houses I helped clear out had multiple relationship breakdowns, illnesses, tough family relationships, etc. I see how they got where they were but eventually the Stuff becomes a problem not a useful coping strategy.

But throwing away your siblings' things and lying about it is fucked up. I guess at least she's making a decent living out of her psychological issues, which is often more than you can say of your siblings.

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[personal profile] zlabya - 2015-12-27 19:56 (UTC) - Expand
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[personal profile] loligo 2015-12-23 03:20 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks for writing 20,000+ words of blog posts this month! It's been good, thought-provoking stuff. (Last night I actually ended up explaining the decreasing birth rate/increasing stuff observation to someone in a dream I had -- how weird is *that*?)
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[personal profile] alasse_irena 2015-12-24 03:38 am (UTC)(link)
I have been to a lot of Shinto shrines, and they a) are not what I would call minimalist, and b) tend to have weird dusty storage sheds at the back somewhere.

And yes, there is a tendency in the whole decluttering thing to assume that the effort of buying things vs. effort of storing things equation is the same for every person.

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[personal profile] alasse_irena - 2015-12-24 05:57 (UTC) - Expand
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[personal profile] lilysea 2015-12-24 12:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Is it okay to link to this in my Dreamwidth (locked) ?
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[personal profile] zlabya 2015-12-27 08:04 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm convinced that part of the reason for Mari Kondo's style is she lives in a country where living space is much smaller than in the US. I imagine most Japanese people would be shocked to hear that our 750-foot, two-bedroom-one-bath townhouse is considered "small' for a childless couple, even in the suburbs (In Tokyo it would be generous for a family of four.) Throwing away something and then buying it later makes sense if you don't have much space.

Also, re: what you said about books: she's clearly not a book lover. I'm sure many people regardless of ethnic origin have a hard time giving up any of their precious books.

I also like the animist concept of thanking your items before letting them go. It helps ease my "guilt" even if they're going to a thrift shop or charity to be used by someone who needs them and can afford them secondhand (or free) only.

Papers, yeah, there has to be a law in Japan about keeping some things in your home (driver's license, birth certificate, tax info, etc.) I do have a lot of workshop papers I never refer to, but some I've been able to pass on to newbie library staff/teen service librarians/etc. And I sent some of the humorous stuff to a friend in need of humor.

We as a culture do need to learn to own less. My parents are starting to get rid of stuff prior to moving and asked us what we want. I'd rather have 60-100 year old furniture that's scratched up but is really well made and belonged to my grandparents than hunt around for new stuff. Besides, I'm careless/clumsy and scratch up stuff anyway...
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[personal profile] vass 2016-01-10 06:09 am (UTC)(link)
How have I not added you before now?

Suffice it to say that I agree with you about KonMari.

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