Friday, October 24, 2014

The American Art of making a mess of one's apartment

Question of the century: If it's presented as a "Japanese Art," will I find the prospect of cleaning the apartment appealing? That's probably the most fun it can be made to sound, "it" being sorting through a pile of books, magazines, bags, jackets, and, I notice, an umbrella all on a small table that's ostensibly for keys and a book or two. So thank you, Marie Kondo, for the inspiration. 

But if I think in terms of "'the [Japanese] tradition of folding,'" as expert Leonard Koren puts it, who knows? Maybe the pile of clothes on top of the bedroom drawers will not only leave that pile and find homes in the drawers in which they belong? "'Folding is deep and pervasive in Japanese culture,'" adds the expert. I choose to interpret this to mean that I'm excused from folding stuff, seeing as it falls outside my cultural tradition. It would be cultural appropriation to clean these surfaces! 

In all seriousness, though, I totally agree with Kondo's overall philosophy, as Penelope Green describes it. "Discard everything that does not 'spark joy,' after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service; and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need." That's basically what I already do. I don't go through stuff as often as I should (see above), but when I do, I'm not one for keeping things for sentimental reasons. I'm very much OK with thinking fondly of the times I wore an outfit in college, then bringing it to the thrift store if it's not something I'd ever really wear.

Some in the snarkfest comments to Green's article are saying that if they had to love all their clothes, they'd have none left. But doing so is actually kind of possible, and doesn't mean chucking everything that isn't formalwear. To give some examples from my (fascinating) life, I'm very enthusiastic about some socks from Muji, which are, yes, just socks, but I'm quite happy with them. Also with some t-shirts from Everlane. And, I mean, this fleece. Such logo-less simplicity! Zip pockets! And not baggy around the midsection, as is so often the case with fleece! If you're sufficiently enthusiastic about your, err, basics ("basic," such a loaded word) when you buy them, you may find that you can sustain that enthusiasm until - or, as is the case with those Petit Bateau Breton-striped shirts, long past - the point at which they're too worn-out to wear.

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