Re: Clutter

1

I hate clutter, but I can't seem to stop it. I'm not sure it is about cheepstuff foods, though. Certainly my grandparents and great-grandparents had oodles of shit and they didn't go in for the prepared foods.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 9:46 AM
horizontal rule
2

I don't go to enough houses to really confirm your generalization, but it does ring true.

My guess: in the age of mass production of tchotchkes, parsimony becomes a way of distinguishing one's own taste.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
3

I think there's something to this, but there's also another effect -- people higher on the income ladder tend to have larger homes, so the same amount of junk appears like less clutter there.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:15 AM
horizontal rule
4

Oh, reading comprehension fail. You address that. Sorry.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:16 AM
horizontal rule
5

-ed

I give up.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:16 AM
horizontal rule
6

How about a reduced need or desire to save money by buying bulk and/or keeping old things? If you feel secure in your ability to always buy a new toy you can more easily get rid of old ones; if you're not trying to save a quarter on a bottle of 409 you can happily outsource consumer-goods storage to the retail universe. I try to make this last one kind of explicit - more so in former apartments than in this house - this place costs $X per square foot per year; it's not worth it to use that expensive space to store toilet paper.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
7

Something that bugged me in that news release - why do they single out parbaked bread as a convenience food? I hadn't heard the term before, but on examination it seems to be all those loaves sold open in paper bags at grocery stores as if fresh-baked. And that comes off to me more as a minor indulgence than a convenience food, especially as it's not presliced.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:28 AM
horizontal rule
8

it seems to be all those loaves sold open in paper bags at grocery stores as if fresh-baked.

Wait. I think I always thought these were fresh-baked. Or if not fresh, still baked in-store. They're not?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:30 AM
horizontal rule
9

In my family there has definitely been a change across generations -- my grandmother's house was always free of clutter, even when she was in her eighties, my parent's house is relatively well organized, and I live in clutter.

From my vantage point my grandmother seems like practically an alien being in that respect.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:31 AM
horizontal rule
10

They seem to be baked the rest of the way in the stores.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
11

So it depends on your definition of fresh-baked.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
12

Isn't it just a matter of hiring someone to do cleaning and tidying?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
13

I've got room to spare. I buy bulk paper goods, detergents, and like that in the giant packages mainly so I don't have to do it often, not because there's a huge savings.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
14

12: But they don't purge your stuff for you. Is it just that clutter is bearable if the house is shiny clean?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
15

In my family there has definitely been a change across generations -- my grandmother's house was always free of clutter, even when she was in her eighties, my parent's house is relatively well organized, and I live in clutter.

This is close to the opposite of my experience. My grandmother's house has every available space stuffed with collectible dolls and plates and bells and god knows what else. My parents also have decorative tchotchkes everywhere, but few enough that my grandmother complains their house looks empty. I don't have any clutter except books, although they do tend to spread all over the place if I'm not careful.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
16

And if stuff is put away, organized neatly.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:38 AM
horizontal rule
17

Do books count as clutter?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:43 AM
horizontal rule
18

My grandmother's house has every available space stuffed with collectible dolls and plates and bells and god knows what else.

Heh. So my mom sent over a UHaul of my childhood crap last November. I sorted through things I wanted to keep/display/Goodwill, and acquired a very shallow shelf for my childhood miniatures.

I hung it, laid out all my favorites, and stepped back to admire my handiwork, and thought "Holy shit, I hate miniatures." It looked so grandma. Down it went, and into the attic, in case tchotchkes are back in fashion when my kids are grown up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:43 AM
horizontal rule
19

17: Depends if they are interfering with the functionality of a table or desk or bed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:45 AM
horizontal rule
20

I can now now describe my apartment's look as just being down with the gente.


Posted by: Tears kurwa my | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:49 AM
horizontal rule
21

Such a sad typo.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 10:51 AM
horizontal rule
22

We're still kind of moving in. New house worth about half the value of the old house, and it really shows in the quality of the space: every room is worth only 60% of the former place (even if 80% of size) in layout, and we're short a couple of minor rooms (and the view). We'll avoid clutter, I think, pretty well in the ground floor public spaces, our bedroom, and the guest bedrooms. Basement family room is another story, and it brings us directly face to face with the 21st century: we have maybe 30 boxes of books, and our 20 year old Ikea bookshelves -- adequate for only 25% anyway -- are past their useful life. We could have shelves built, but probably aren't going to do it this year. Which means 30 boxes of books will stay taped shut for a year. And most likely, no one will care, much.

So the books are basically decoration. Not that they are particularly pretty, or anything. A step ahead of my 300+ vinyl records (none of which has been played for 10 years, at least) I suppose. We're irredeemably middle class, obviously.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 11:07 AM
horizontal rule
23

You're just trying to prove that you're not a replicant.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 11:11 AM
horizontal rule
24

In my experience, not having money meant being afraid to throw anything away, and so accumulating a ton of crap. Who knows, you might need it later, and then you'd have to spend $5 or whatever to buy it again. Now I can reason with myself that it's not worth $5 to me to keep this item in my house for the next six months, and if I need it again I can afford to buy it, but this has taken a lot of self-training and I'm still not good at it.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
25

Replicants listen to their records?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
26

Now I can reason with myself that it's not worth $5 to me to keep this item in my house for the next six months, and if I need it again I can afford to buy it, but this has taken a lot of self-training and I'm still not good at it.

I've had that same conversation with myself many times. It's beginning to sink in, but only beginning to.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 11:20 AM
horizontal rule
27

Recordants listen to their replords.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 11:20 AM
horizontal rule
28

I was raised with a heavy "It's highly virtuous to mend or repair, instead of dispose and replace." Only I don't mend or repair. I just keep broken, torn shit.

(Less of a problem now than it used to be, for whatever reason.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 11:23 AM
horizontal rule
29

Good insight, h-g, connecting obesity to what I think is best described as "amassing," the accumulation of mountains of underutilized "stuff." Gorging, gluttony, surrounding yourself with yourself.

Nesting, storage, the massive insecurity of those with marginal and threatened identities.

All kinds of things can be accumulated or amassed:knowledge, credentials, books read in quantity, experiences (travel, sexual partners, sexual variety). Point is this is not work or investment, it is not purposeful, it is taking some kind of comfort in an abandonment of control.

What is the opposite of anal-retentive?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
30

Facebook and twitter are probably kinds of gorging and gluttony.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 11:31 AM
horizontal rule
31

I was raised with a heavy "It's highly virtuous to mend or repair, instead of dispose and replace."

Then you were raised right.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 11:48 AM
horizontal rule
32

Omg! It's unnerving to read because it's like they were in my house! However, I a surprised that no one mentions time--I just do not have time to organize and pick shit up and I'm the only one in the family that cares about orderliness. Some factors that I think would affect this
More women work
Parenting is more time intensive
Overall people are working more
I can definitely say that since my husband lost his job our house has gotten worse--I am working more, we let the cleaning lady go, and at the same time, my 3yo developed special needs that require 3-5 hours of therapy a week. He's working hard to develop and grow his practice and picking up and cleaning has just become less of a priority


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 11:53 AM
horizontal rule
33

I remember George Plimpton, speaking of the Upper West Side (GP was was very Upper East), saying something along the lines of, "Books are wonderful, but must they really be piled all over the floor?"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 12:12 PM
horizontal rule
34

Facebook and twitter are probably kinds of gorging and gluttony.

Whereas chatty long-running blogs are where the healthy well-adjusted people go to hang out.

Then you were raised right.

One of the things which can often stall me from getting rid of things is the moment of, "I could just throw this away, but that would be wasteful. I should at least try to find a way to give it away."

Anybody here want a box of packing peanuts . . .?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 12:52 PM
horizontal rule
35

34:I am the worst of these. Started Atkins again yesterday.

How many records you got, N?

I always have to set up arbitrary disciplinary regimes to avoid terrible guilt, I will keep a list of my music and set up a schedule that compels me to listen to each one in an order, and never the same one twice in a month.

This isn't any obsessive-compulsive thing, but a matter of looking across the room at the very excellent thing I spent twenty dollars on and having it rebuke me.

And it isn't a matter of time. You free up time by reducing desires (and duties are desires for respect and approval).

Wow, got to work two jobs to fill up the garage with stuff that's never used? This is America.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
36

I think that having staff to clean and organize can be a factor here.

I know a few folks who have a cleaner in every few weeks. Before the cleaner comes there is a rush to organize everything so the place can get cleaned. If someone had frequent service (or more often) I'd think clutter would be less likely.

Me, I could never hire someone to clean as it would take too much time & energy to get things to that level.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 1:33 PM
horizontal rule
37

22: You were renting before, I gather, CCarp. The other house sounds a bit nicer. Why would you move?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 1:40 PM
horizontal rule
38

There may be something to heebie's theory (I don't think I've been to enough rich people's houses to judge from experience) but as some others have pointed out there are various other factors affecting this. In rural areas, for instance, people tend to hang on to stuff because it's hard to get rid of and hard to replace, and there's plenty of space anyway.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 1:44 PM
horizontal rule
39

36:Wow, the point of the article and pictures is not about how well or not all that fucking shit was organized and arranged. It was about the quantity. (including the back yard that isn't used, and the master suite that is like a motel room.) see 35.3
By the time you are worrying about what you should discard you have already accumulated too much.

35 continued.

But it is even worse. Suppose I get fed up with myself and decide that I really don't need a 75th Miles Davis Quintet CD, Live at the Bottom Line, the Undiscovered Tapes. I mean there's Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew and have I really exhausted those masterpieces, taken every last iota of pleasure and knowledge from them that is available to me? And if I think I have exhausted their possibility, isn't that my fault?

But wait. Isn't the desire for depth as much a form of accumulation, greed, and gluttony as the desire for breadth and diversity? After twenty times thru Dublin, of course it was.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 1:54 PM
horizontal rule
40

The rich don't need stuff? Naw, Felix Salmon refers to LA Museum Wars, and the guy who owns Brancusi's Bird in Flight. What does it mean to sit in your living room next to that? You are really not looking at the Brancusi, you are looking at yourself looking at, owning, the Brancusi.

I can't maintain three simultaneous Lacanian bullshits in my mind at once, and Max's neo-vagina is trouble enough.

Yeah sure, it's a servant problem.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 2:05 PM
horizontal rule
41

Are we distinguishing between clutter and simply having a lot of stuff? Even thinking of 'gramma' houses, including rural ones where 38 holds, sometimes the tchochkes impede daily living (clutter) and sometimes not (aesthetics, sentiment, or merely more stuff than I like to see). I'd pretty much say clutter is when people have more stuff than they actually want and still can't control or get rid of it. In which case, the only newish thoughts I have:

I know a minimalist who makes part of her living in NYC by being hired to declutter rich people's houses; she dislikes it because the same people hire her over and over, so she's enabling, not teaching. (Probably they're also committing karaoke over 40.)

My sweetie and I used to have a cleaning guy, and we picked up before he came, because (a) too embarassing not to (b) it was a handy way to schedule picking up (c) he didn't move things, he just cleaned. I think this is fairly common, at least where cleaning is a service, rather than done by servants (who are expected to silently understand and pick up after you).

Upper-class people often entertain each other as an instrumental part of upper-classness, and a cluttered home would pretty much lose the game. Big motivation to get it right. Self-control is a huge element of upper-class behavior as I understand it, and an uncontrolled home would be a terrible loss of face.

If you can actually afford what you want in the first place, you don't keep buying inadequate versions of it. (Well, assuming sanity in this axis, which no worldly state can guarantee.) Vime's Boots. Corollary, if the stuff is good enough, it doesn't look like clutter however piled up and worn it is; hence the appeal of shabby chic, etc.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 2:18 PM
horizontal rule
42

I know that since I have become more materially comfortable, I have become more comfortable throwing things out. If I need it again, I can replace it again with much less hurt than it would have required to replace it ten years ago.


Posted by: Trumwill | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 2:27 PM
horizontal rule
43

How are we defining "upper class" here? It's not generally a very well-defined concept in the US context.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 2:31 PM
horizontal rule
44

In my experience, not having money meant being afraid to throw anything away, and so accumulating a ton of crap. Who knows, you might need it later, and then you'd have to spend $5 or whatever to buy it again. Now I can reason with myself that it's not worth $5 to me to keep this item in my house for the next six months, and if I need it again I can afford to buy it, but this has taken a lot of self-training and I'm still not good at it.

I understand the first sentence perfectly and the second on not at all. What do mean not worth it? Keeping something in your house costs nothing! It doesn't even require the effort of throwing something out. You just lost wasted $5!


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 2:35 PM
horizontal rule
45

I'm sticking with 'what I think my grandmothers would have thought of as upper-class'.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 2:37 PM
horizontal rule
46

37 -- End of lease, and the people who own the house returned from their 3 year assignment in Europe and wanted to live in their house. Worth literally twice the house we bought (for which we probably overpaid a bit). It was really amazing how well our household from DC fit that space -- people kept asking if the furniture was ours, because it seemed to have been bought to suit each room.

|| My son has taken a job selling high end knives. He's still learning the pitch, but the knives seem amazing. Our old knives will count as clutter, I guess, until we can pass them on to our daughter next month . . .|>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 2:37 PM
horizontal rule
47

45: Namely?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 2:37 PM
horizontal rule
48

That seems like a very grandmother-dependent definition.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 2:40 PM
horizontal rule
49

I use a fairly restrictive definition: folks whose grandparents didn't need to work, and know their as yet unborn grandchildren won't have to work.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 2:46 PM
horizontal rule
50

47: Somebody has to volunteer to take the lumps? Okay. Distinction, deprecation, etc. But:

For the Southern grandmother it had to include the implication that your family had once had money and position* and that it hadn't been lost by family actions. Ideally you still had it; nearly as good, it was lost in the Waw; economic changes or ill-health allowed; drink, failed over-ambition, and bad marriages lost the game. This left a fraction of the college-educated WASPs in the South, and not many people else. "I'd rather you came back dead than married to a Yankee!" was a famous family saying. My father married a Yankee. I don't think I ever saw the best of those grandparents.

My Yankee grandmother didn't say much about it beyond an occasional murmer of 'three generations', which is short for 'three generations, shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves', which means that you can't tell if a family is going to stay in the upper class until the third generation either has or hasn't kept the relevant habits -- which she also didn't explicitly describe, but thrift, arrogance, sangfroid, and generosity were observably necessary to her esteem. She and my grandfather did think people could rise and fall no matter what race or class they came from, and a lot of their stories were about outsiders outfacing various power structures and winning. I liked those stories better than the ones about cutting limbs off thieves (in the attempted act, but still).

*e.g., at least informal access to political power.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 2:56 PM
horizontal rule
51

Only an economic definition, CharleyCarp? Do you think there isn't a habitus that increases the chance of making it into that estate?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 2:57 PM
horizontal rule
52

This part struck me:

The addition of costly "master suites" for parents proved the most common renovation in the homes that were studied, yet the spaces were hardly used.

As an occasional watcher of HGTV (at my parents house, on jetBlue planes), I do not find this surprising at all. The people are always wanting these insane "spa" bathrooms and sitting rooms in the master suite and all this stuff that you can't imagine them actually using. I do like having a chair in the bedroom to pile my clothes on when I'm too lazy to hang them up.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 3:00 PM
horizontal rule
53

Just about everyone covers just about every available surface with tchotchkes, but the degree of coverage thins out as incomes rise. There is a niche wealthy taste (dwell magazine, austere modernism) that restricts this to a very few colorful accent pieces but otherwise prefers empty, clean surfaces.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 3:14 PM
horizontal rule
54

What about multiple houses? UMC people are probably more likely to have beach houses and/or cabins where they can spread out the clutter so it doesn't only amass in one place. It seems like a main purpose of the 2nd home is as a socially acceptable place to display all the kitsch you find too tacky for everyday living but want to hang on to for sentimental reasons. It also seems that even (especially?) those with minimalist/tasteful undercluttered main homes go crazy at the beach, where the decore makes the immigrant grandma aesthetic look understated. (If the beach house is tastefully decorated, then the people are probably upper class, and have at least another 2 houses in addition to the beach house.)


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 3:23 PM
horizontal rule
55

*decor


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 3:25 PM
horizontal rule
56

We can start by burning all the throw pillows. I hate throw pillows so much.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 3:30 PM
horizontal rule
57

Even worse: the bed with 10,000 small pillows, including the round cylinder one, on it. No more pillows.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 3:31 PM
horizontal rule
58

including the round cylinder one

Seriously what are you supposed to do with those things? First thing I do in any hotel room is chuck it onto the floor.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 3:42 PM
horizontal rule
59

if you're not trying to save a quarter on a bottle of 409 you can happily outsource consumer-goods storage to the retail universe

I wonder if there's some sort of analogy to storing information on the cloud. Are people of lower SES more likely to insist on owning and controlling their own local copy? Are richer people more likely to trust it'll still be there, and if not, they can just buy another copy or renew their streaming audio/video/games/whatever service? Are richer people more satisfied with licensing versus owning? Not sure if it works--I think people feel differently about physical and virtual goods, and there's yet to be a really big and obvious crash of a cloud storage provider


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 3:45 PM
horizontal rule
60

Economic, yes, but on a sustained basis. My definition would exclude e.g. Mr. Gates, and have a very few people indeed.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 3:55 PM
horizontal rule
61

58: The big ones? Sometimes I find them nice to lean against when I want to read a book before bed. They're immediately on the floor when I want to actually sleep, though.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 4:00 PM
horizontal rule
62

But anyone can have no clutter. My daughter is going almost completely without furniture, as an aesthetic choice. We'll see how long she sticks with that one. Also going paleo.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 4:01 PM
horizontal rule
63

60 -- That seems rather stronger than is useful. You really don't think there are social habits that ease the access to power for no practical reason? Or you don't think that's 'upper class' because ...?

I use big bolsters for iliotibial band stretches, and I'm told they're good for people with back trouble to sleep with (upper leg and arm slung over). And small ones appeal to traditional-Chinese-style sleepers.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 4:05 PM
horizontal rule
64

Oh, I think there's a social dimension, certainly. That's why it's not just money. I think a UMC person with a bunch of money is a UMC person with a bunch of money.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 4:17 PM
horizontal rule
65

53: Just about everyone covers just about every available surface with tchotchkes...

What? Really? I'm aberrant again. A few of sentimental value is what I'd like, I've been working towards that for a year and a half now.

Even so, there's covered and then there's COVERED. The homes in the latter category always seemed somewhat nightmarish to me.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 4:22 PM
horizontal rule
66

Just about everyone covers just about every available surface with tchotchkes

This is true for me if tchotchkes can include junk mail, laundry, coffee cups, and anything I need to put away but can't decide where away is.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 4:33 PM
horizontal rule
67

Kitsch/high-middle-low-brow/ornament is crime explains pretty much all of this, I think.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 4:41 PM
horizontal rule
68

6: How about a reduced need or desire to save money by buying bulk and/or keeping old things?

I'd go with this as explanation enough -- the keeping of old things certainly explains the clutter in my house -- but I see the second link in the OP focuses on the purchase of things people didn't really need and don't use in the first place.

Whereas I find myself with an old alarm clock in the basement that still works fine! except the clock radio function doesn't work, just the buzzer alarm clock function. I might need it if my current clock radio dies. Ditto with the spare not-fully-functional coffee maker down there, and the lamp that's perfectly fine except that it needs a shade.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 4:48 PM
horizontal rule
69

In my limited experience, the upper upper middle classes, and the upper classes (in the UK), are more likely to live in near-squalor than the 'lower' classes. I remember being shocked when I first visited the homes of two different upper middle-class families (friends of friends) when I was a kid. Both academic families, both houses i) absolutely huge [detached Victorian villas] by my council-house standards, and both ii) a fucking mess.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:12 PM
horizontal rule
70

Kitsch/high-middle-low-brow/ornament is crime explains pretty much all of this, I think.

Is this difficult to parse, or is it just me?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:15 PM
horizontal rule
71

70: not just you. What I thought it meant was that kitsch was a crime, along with any sort of ornament (regardless of brow level).


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:18 PM
horizontal rule
72

Cont'd
As in "bro[w] that's a clown painting question"


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:19 PM
horizontal rule
73

Pfft you try summing up centuries of design / aesthetic development in less than ten words without even a pretence at grammar.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:21 PM
horizontal rule
74

Also, ttaM, sure it isn't just academics?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:22 PM
horizontal rule
75

68: WeHo held one of its free & convenient hazmat-waste and paper shredding days today. I got rid of stuff some of which had been following me around the country for fifty years or more. Liberating!


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:23 PM
horizontal rule
76

re: 74

Nah. The pukka posh often (or certainly sometimes) live in shite-holes. The 1970s academic duo were just my first encounter with the genre.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:27 PM
horizontal rule
77

75: Liberating!

Yeah, but still, lamps go bad all the time, and I can use that spare. For me it's really a matter of income. The tchotchkes I have tend to be more along the lines of two or three cruets (for oil and vinegar), and half a dozen nice pottery vases, because I find them pretty and replaceability isn't possible.

Still, I could lobby the household to get rid of the old toaster oven. Except that we used it for a week or so when the last one died. Most of that kind of clutter is in the basement; the main floor clutter is, um, a lot of paper, actually.

Resolved to get rid of old magazines. There seem to be a lot of old rugs/carpets, as well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
78

Maybe people are hoarding because of the subconscious understanding that they're more likely to drop below the middle class than climb up within it?

Maybe having space itself makes people collect.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:47 PM
horizontal rule
79

69: This is a European thing that we Americans famously don't get. ("Wow, they must be really hurting for money! Their furniture is threadbare and the paint is peeling on the walls!")


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:50 PM
horizontal rule
80

"We" Americans, oud?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:55 PM
horizontal rule
81

Er, me and you?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:58 PM
horizontal rule
82

77: Stuff that's in working order and realistically usable again I kept. A Tektronix storage 'scope from a previous life, not. A very heavy early example of an electric convection oven went too, along with several PCs.

The papers had social security and account info for a fair number of still living people, and those were scattered among reams of legal bumph, far too much for my office shredder. I've been lugging those around forever in hopes that mice might shred them.

Now the question is, what to do with the huge collection of Beanie Babies the DE amassed during her attempt to get rich by buying high and selling higher into a nonexistent demand?


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 5:59 PM
horizontal rule
83

But I have totally personally done that.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 6:00 PM
horizontal rule
84

parsimon, lampshades are reasonably fun to improvise out of stuff, e.g., attractive paper goods you want to get rid of anyway. The wire frames of lampshades are reasonably easy to get in thrift/junk/tips, IME, and that's the hardest part of making it look nice enough.

ttaM, given that I know you don't put any of the dividing lines where I would -- how many generations are true pukka uppers (?) from having servants? Could they literally have grown up not knowing how to look after themselves? Also, is being messy a proof that you aren't shabby-genteel?

79: Hey!


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 6:00 PM
horizontal rule
85

82: along with several PCs

Yes, old electronics are kind of a problem. I have an article on the fridge about a place to get rid of them. (Really.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 6:09 PM
horizontal rule
86

Man, the stuff I would have around if I owned a basement. My basement would be beautifully organized, with labeled boxes, and maybe even a map! And my living space would be very, very bare. Everything would have a place to live, and if it were out in the open, it would either be in use* or pretty.

*That's the tell that this is fantasy. Don't we all have half-finished tasks all over our desks?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 6:09 PM
horizontal rule
87

84.2: Heh. But really, what I meant is that it's enough of a stereotype to show up in novels, etc.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 6:13 PM
horizontal rule
88

"The clutter epidemic corresponds with a higher production of cheap crap in this country. Is there something protecting wealthy people from the over-accumulation?"

A lessened desire to purchase lots of cheap crap? Well, if OLD money, of course, I mean.


Posted by: roberta | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 6:15 PM
horizontal rule
89

85: Some outfit will pick up my two heavy old TVs for like $30. Beats chronic back pain & orthopedic surgery by a wide margin.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 6:22 PM
horizontal rule
90

You can haul old PCs and other computer-related junk to any Best Buy location and they'll recycle it for free. Did this before I moved out of NJ because it was much more convenient than the one state-operated electronics recycling place in the county that was open for three hours every third Saturday.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 6:27 PM
horizontal rule
91

84: lampshades are reasonably fun to improvise out of stuff

Unfortunately, my lampshade fu is awful. I've had a lovely lamp sitting here in the study for 6 months, sans shade, that I don't know how to help. It's to replace the lamp that died, well, 6 months ago.

I should go to a lamp store on a spying mission.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 6:28 PM
horizontal rule
92

90: essear! Really? That's great. Thanks. Do we know whether their recycling procedure is okay? Just checking.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 6:34 PM
horizontal rule
93

90: Also Staples.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 6:40 PM
horizontal rule
94

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Global-Promotions/Recycling-Electronics/pcmcat149900050025.c?id=pcmcat149900050025#restrictions


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 6:54 PM
horizontal rule
95

I have an old laptop to recycle, but need to wipe/destroy the hard drive first. Any tips?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 6:59 PM
horizontal rule
96

94: Thanks much. I wonder whether the municipality running the local electronics drop-off places need to show statistics for community participation. I hate to be a pill, but I'd rather go government than private. I probably can't defend this if pressed, but I know that gov't programs need to show results, and funding follows from that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 7:09 PM
horizontal rule
97

Recycling electronics actually strikes me as the kind of specialized service that's likely to generally be done more effectively by a big corporation than by a local government.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 7:23 PM
horizontal rule
98

Our local Goodwill in SB was an electronics recycling drop-off too.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 7:27 PM
horizontal rule
99

95: maybe Darik's Boot And Nuke?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 7:31 PM
horizontal rule
100

I have an old laptop to recycle, but need to wipe/destroy the hard drive first. Any tips?

Send it to me! Use shred!

You could do this, I guess.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 7:35 PM
horizontal rule
101

Upon further reflection, I suppose this stuff probably all goes to the same places for the actual recycling, so where you drop it off probably doesn't matter very much at all.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 7:40 PM
horizontal rule
102

Pinterest "DIY lamp shade" is fruitful. Also fruity. Some how-to links included.

Jackmormon: The Dwarf Lord and I just disassemble our security-relevant drives and reuse the magnets; never have found a use for the nice shiny platters, so we hit them with hammers. If you aren't that freaky, DBAN, though I believe Macs can wipe themselves. (All grown up now.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 7:41 PM
horizontal rule
103

I'll look into it, x trapnel. Thanks!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 7:41 PM
horizontal rule
104

so pwned, except for Pinterest, which is embarassing in itself.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 7:43 PM
horizontal rule
105

I would love to just send it to neB. It's a Dell Inspiron 4000 (?) with...wait for it...a swappable CD/DVD drive *and* a floppy drive. It runs Windows ME, inasfar as it can be said to run.

Interested takers who promise not to make fun of or publicize any data on it can contact me at my real name (firstlast) at gmail. I'll pay shipping.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 7:47 PM
horizontal rule
106

63

That seems rather stronger than is useful. ...

Definitely.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 8:06 PM
horizontal rule
107

24

In my experience, not having money meant being afraid to throw anything away, and so accumulating a ton of crap. ...

I have accumulated a lot of stuff of questionable utility and in my case in doesn't really have anything to do with not having money. I get attached to stuff and find it difficult to get rid of practically anything I have had for a long time.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 8:13 PM
horizontal rule
108

Oddly, the requests are not coming in.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 8:16 PM
horizontal rule
109

Really, jmo, if you're just asking for someone to take it, I'll take it. As you know I'm the soul of discretion. But really this time.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 8:21 PM
horizontal rule
110

You are not the soul of reassuring, however. (Are there naked photos on that computer? I can hardly remember now.)

I will look into the disposal methods linked above. Thanks to all.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 8:30 PM
horizontal rule
111

Jesus. I wouldn't snoop. I am a gentleman.

Those other methods are certainly cheaper than paying for shipping, though.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 8:33 PM
horizontal rule
112

74: in my family (grandparents working class, parents & my generation middle) there is a very close correlation between higher academic achievement and messiness.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 8:37 PM
horizontal rule
113

Rob's mom stored (for 30 years) and sent us a fantastic collection of various kinds of construction trucks that our kids NEVER touched. Ever. I kept wanting to get rid of them (even the kids said "just throw them out, mom"), but when I started to get rid of them I couldn't bring myself to go through with it. And then a young visitor came to our house and played with the trucks and loved them, so we gave them all to him. I thought "That's why I never throw anything away." It's such a joy to find the right person and give them something that they will love. But really, for every success story there are at least 50 things sitting around that I will never be able to (1) give to the right person or (2) repair, paint, or craft into usability. (Rob's mom also stockpiled and sent hundreds of old legos that we love and use every day).


Posted by: Molly | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 8:43 PM
horizontal rule
114

If you (or someone) could get use out of this thing, I would be happy to send it to you. I'd need mailing addresses for that. If not, I'll take it apart as per the links, stomp on it, and recycle. Eventually, when I get around to it.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-14-12 9:13 PM
horizontal rule
115

A friend started a joint here in L.A. that hires ex-cons to do electronics recycling. "Turning crap into dreams" was the ad copy I proposed to her.

They also repair iPhone screens.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 1:08 AM
horizontal rule
116

"Turning crap into dreams" was the ad copy I proposed to her.

I see that she seems to have declined to use it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 1:13 AM
horizontal rule
117

Crazy, right?


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 1:15 AM
horizontal rule
118

If it's true, that upper class homes are less cluttered - what societal force is preventing the over-accumulation of stuff?

I would guess the social pressure to entertain others combined with the ability to afford off-site storage.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 2:06 AM
horizontal rule
119

Ha! There's a Benjamin essay about this! Experience and Poverty.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 4:32 AM
horizontal rule
120

this is causing me no end of trouble right now. I have a ton of things which were sent from a storage unit in the states, which have been mingled with and then (partially) teased into two strands with/away from the existing furniture. half of it is going to be sent to my new beach house, which can't really be "crazy" d├ęcorwise but more crazy perhaps...they have carved every teak surface with such alarming detail that I'm suddenly unsure about hanging paintings on the wall. no upper cabinets in the kitchen (which is just one edge of the huge center room) only shelves, the better to display my fun china. we decided it was too expensive to rent storage so we just declared the dining room a disaster area. but it is spreading; there are bags of things on the chinese wedding bed upstairs. my maid cleans beautifully but she doesn't "put away" until asked in this crazy move situation. the presence of piles of stuff causes me no end of anxiety.

then we have to move out of this (wonderful, lovable) house also (rent going up by 50%) so we'll have a smaller place starting 1 october. but god, what will I find--narnia is #3 most expensive in the world!? husband x wants to get rid of books. but not comic books. if my bookshelf with the ladder on the brass rail doesn't fit in the container bound for lombok I'ma cry. also, I'm baaack! but I'm going to sleep.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 8:25 AM
horizontal rule
121

My mom is terrible with this, lives in a small place that she doesn't manage space well. As others have said, throwing away personal crap is hard because there's a memory of use or hope associated with the old book or paperweight, and nobody likes dumping old hope into the trash.

Watching shows about hoarders was illuminating for me-- people who don't have much of a present focus on the past or the imagined future. Rich people have more of a present (I'm overcommited that day, maybe call in the morning to see if I'm available) roughly speaking, and have the luxury of keeping hopes private and possibly sane rather than letting them out while shopping.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
122

120: Glad to see you among the living!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
123

120. Yay! Alameida!


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
124

I really don't think think that clutter is as big of a deal as that article makes out. People like to acquire things. Sometimes they don't use those things as much as they think they will. But, sometimes they do.

I also like the way that piles of stuff look when they are neatly put away:

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/photo/celf-1-bedroom.jpg


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 12:15 PM
horizontal rule
125

I am in the midst of unpacking and certainly feeling a great loathing for all my motherfucking horrible stuffly stuff.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 1:00 PM
horizontal rule
126

nobody likes dumping old hope into the trash

I do, I do! Snark is off at Goodwill with two big boxes of old hope right now.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 1:02 PM
horizontal rule
127

I love nothing more than throwing old stuff in the trash. I also fantasize (for multiple reasons) about burning down my garage, which contains not only my junk but that of homeowners past.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 1:39 PM
horizontal rule
128

people who don't have much of a present focus on the past or the imagined future.

Wow. I've been diagnosed by the blog!


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 1:41 PM
horizontal rule
129

Maybe having space itself makes people collect.

I often have the opposite feeling. My place is small and has very little closet/storage and I feel like it makes it more difficult to deal with clutter. Both because (a) there isn't an obvious "correct" place to put most of the clutter and (b) the lack of swap-space meaning that dealing with any given pile will require re-arranging five other piles as well.

I think I could do better if I had more space. But this is probably fantasy since I have tended towards clutter in every space that I've lived in.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 1:48 PM
horizontal rule
130

Not-so-old laptops are probably not all that rare right now, but some libraries/archives have been collecting equipment towards that day when someone comes in with a bunch of floppies and says "these contain all the manuscripts I wrote using WordPerfect 5.0 on Windows ME", can you preserve them?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 2:11 PM
horizontal rule
131

What clutter??!! We might need this stuff.


Posted by: OPINIONATED COLLYER BROTHERS | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 2:14 PM
horizontal rule
132

I picked up a half-finished space-occupying project and made some progress on it yesterday. Not, alas, the stuck spot in the diss.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 2:20 PM
horizontal rule
133

Aw, it's good to see you back, alameida. Does this mean the unrelenting headaches resolved?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 2:37 PM
horizontal rule
134

re: 130

We do that. I don't know how large our hardware library is, but we've been archiving old versions of software for a while, and we definitely have some old hardware stashed away for exactly that purpose.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 3:37 PM
horizontal rule
135

I myself still have a 1991 Mac LC sitting in the closet gathering dust. I can't quite stomach just chucking all of my college/M.A. writing, but I'm also not interested enough in retrieving it to bother figuring out how to get it transferred to a modern hard drive.

Also, count me among those glad to see alameida up and posting again. Welcome back!


Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 5:35 PM
horizontal rule
136

133: could be that happened a long time ago and it's been the unrelenting orgasms keeping her away.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 5:44 PM
horizontal rule
137

127: I love nothing more than throwing old stuff in the trash.

One of the most satisfying moments of my life was when I finally got rid of an old sleeper couch my folks handed down to me. Thing was a monster but it got dragged across several states. Finally we found out that the Houston garbage pick-up supposedly took things like that so we wrestled it out to the curb. I hid peering out from behind the window shade the next morning half expecting them to yell up, "Hey! We're not going to take this!" But they took it. It was a good day.

So let's see, life's great moments so far: getting rid of a couch, getting margin/marginal/marginalia in Boggle, having the impressed counter-girl at Wendy's say "Well ordered!" after I flawlessly rattled off the litany of kids' requests and few well-timed real life and blog bon mots.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 6:16 PM
horizontal rule
138

Oh, and coaching the [insert local community soccer club here] U-11s to the PA West cup title. All right Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up,


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 6:18 PM
horizontal rule
139

137: +a ...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-15-12 6:19 PM
horizontal rule
140
A totally new kind of poverty has swooped down upon men with the colossal development of technology... What good is all our cultural heritage now if no experience ties us to it? The last century's horrible mish-mash of styles and visions of the world showed only too clearly where hypocrisy or abuse in such matters gets us in order for us not to consider it honorable to own up to our misery. So, then, let us confess it: this poverty of experience is not just the poverty of private experiences, but a poverty of human experiences. So is it a new kind of barbarism? In effect. And we declare it to be such in order to introduce a new concept, a positive concept of barbarism. Because where does a poverty of experience lead the savage barbarian? It brings him to begin at the beginning, to start over from the start, to pull himself out of it with the little he has, to build with the little he has, and in so doing to look neither to his right nor to his left... We have become poor. We have sacrificed the heritage of humanity, bit by bit, and often we have pawned it off for a hundredth of its value in order to receive in return the petty coin of "what exists" ... Humanity is preparing itself to survive culture if need be. And the essential thing is that it's doing so while laughing about it. It is highly possible that here or there such laughter might have a really barbaric sound to it. That's great. So couldn't individuals thus give up, some time or another, a little bit of their humanity to the masses, which would one day pay it back plus interest on capital and interest on the interest?

--Walter Benjamin, Experience and Poverty

(following up on Keir. It's just too modern to be online entire.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-16-12 7:40 PM
horizontal rule