his article by Nathalie Atkinson in this weekend's Globe and Mail, coincidentally just as I was trying to decide what to include in vignettes on the new solid-maple floating shelves we had a carpenter friend build for us.
You might remember that I'm trying to find space for displaying collectibles, memorabilia, and bric-a-brac, much of it undoubtedly of the sort that Marie Kondo is urging us to purge. I can't honestly say that each piece I'm reluctant to part with "sparks joy." Some of it triggers sorrow, in fact, or a sense of loss, or simply an ambivalence over a relationship it holds memories of.
As I wrote in Sunday's Instagram post, the Royal Doulton figurine "Patricia" would not be something I'd choose for myself, although there's much about its elegant, simple aesthetic to admire. And perhaps Kondo followers would tell me that I'm missing the point of her advice, that while I might not find aesthetic joy in the object, the joy it sparks through its associated memories would justify its place in my home. In return, I'd have to argue that I'm not sure it's joy, exactly, that the memories bring me, at least not unproblematically, not without a tincture of sadness at my dad's repeated attempts to coax happiness from my mother, to whom it didn't always come easily.
And even the joy that I might admit it triggers is spoiled somewhat by my inclination to tot up the amount of "stuff" in the room and calculate the putative balance point at which it all topples into the dreaded category of Clutter. . . .
So I was glad to read Atkinson's claim that while "the unexamined life is not worth living, an empty room is no fun either." And she talks about the Kondo tribe's "tossing-around" of the Japanese word mottainai, which denotes the regretting of wastefulness. She counters this tossing-around by arguing that "there's probably an equally evocative word for the regret of discarding that chair/dress/book." Atkinson's article is worth reading in its entirety. I especially appreciate the way she points out that so many of the design or lifestyle books that emphasise minimalism are nonetheless as materialistic as those that tease out the way biographical possibilities of the objects in our lives and that make an argument for holding on to these tangible traces of where and what and who we've been. I'm also making a note of the several titles she cites on both sides of the issue -- there's a great little list here I'll be keeping an eye out for at the library.
I'm curious: how many of you find the Kondo approach a relief and enjoy your cleansed, joy-sparking new spaces? and how many of you prefer to have a lifetime of memorabilia gathered around you? And then let's leave some room for the middle ground, those of us who want to simplify, who are yearning for the tranquility of less-cluttered rooms, but have items that are too important to relinquish, no matter that they spark no aesthetic admiration nor any mood or emotion other than solemnity, sorrow, loss. . . .
Over to you . . .