I'm done with you rude motherfuckers
January 21, 2019 11:22 PM   Subscribe

 


When I said I personally liked having 30 books in my house, I meant it because that’s what I like. It was a fucking suggestion, not a threat.

I feel like this sums up a lot of the (frankly baffling) vitriol I've seen over the past few years re: Marie Kondo, which has now only worsened because there's something to binge watch. I really loved the show, and I would watch a second season, but I like her methods in general. I just cannot understand the frothing hate.

Great article, though.
posted by lesser weasel at 11:38 PM on January 21 [72 favorites]


Marie Kondo is acting pretty passive aggressive for someone acknowledging she was just making a suggestion we all took the wrong way.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:49 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


This is so, so good.

The most sympathetic thing I can say about the reaction of the Take Machine to Mari Kondo is it showed how hard it must be to have to constantly put out a serious of brain grunts on something, oh god anything, at a rate that prevents you from ever finding out what you're talking about, over and over and over again.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:01 AM on January 22 [28 favorites]


Currently doing the cull because my bookshelves have started groaning again... them books ain't ever going to be read or re-read, gonna give someone else the opportunity
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:56 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


Marie Kondo's methods have escalated

In the grim darkness of the year 2035, there is only Marie Kondo
posted by J.K. Seazer at 2:06 AM on January 22 [41 favorites]


The most sympathetic thing I can say about the reaction of the Take Machine to Mari Kondo is it showed how hard it must be to have to constantly put out a serious of brain grunts on something, oh god anything, at a rate that prevents you from ever finding out what you're talking about, over and over and over again.

The Take Machine reminds me of Upworthy, and how it looks like they'd hacked the attention economy, and how just a few years later they were completely wiped out once people learned what clickbait was and Facebook stopped treating clicks as a proxy for interesting. I'm hoping something similar will happen with the Take Machine - Austin Walker's tweet about takes that make you go back to bed, I think, is the start of that process, where a combination of user sophistication and financial disincentives kills the power.
posted by Merus at 2:23 AM on January 22 [12 favorites]


I once wrote a column about science and technology for The Telegraph in my spare time. Even though it was only published every two weeks, my seemingly-endless source of column ideas ran dry faster than I thought, and my editors were always pushing for me to comment on the newest fad or controversy of the day. Of course, PR agents got hold of my email and I started getting all sorts of pitches, at which point I reached enlightenment about just how all columns and op/eds end up talking about the same thing.

Anyway, after a couple of years I was tired of the whole thing and felt it was actively detracting from my ability to write quality stuff, so I stopped doing it. Some writers are able to write fresh and original takes weekly or even daily, but many are not, and most publications would do well to discourage the treadmill. But hey, capitalism's gonna capitalism ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by adrianhon at 2:50 AM on January 22 [49 favorites]


This sparked joy in my heart. Thank you for sharing <3
posted by bunderful at 4:14 AM on January 22 [13 favorites]


In the grim darkness of the year 2035, there is only Marie Kondo

I clicked on that link fully expecting on seeing a photoshopped image of Kondo with Burgess Meredith and the caption, "Your glasses are BROKE, Motherfucker!!!"
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:25 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


I feel like this sums up a lot of the (frankly baffling) vitriol I've seen over the past few years re: Marie Kondo, which has now only worsened because there's something to binge watch. I really loved the show, and I would watch a second season, but I like her methods in general. I just cannot understand the frothing hate.

Disclaimer: I haven't read her book(s?), or watched her show. And I haven't seen the vitriol and frothing hate of what you speak.

I certainly don't hate Kondo – but the whole phenomenon is kind of exasperating. The use of words like "life-changing" and "magic" and "joy". The fact that there's an international media personality whose entire schtick is apparently "get rid of stuff you don't want/use/need". The fact that people apparently need to be told this, or need to have it validated by someone on the TV, or something. (The whole notion that she has a brilliant, revolutionary new "method". "Get rid of stuff you don't want/use/need" has always worked for me – what more could there possibly be to it? – and I've never expected life-changing joy and/or magic from the process.)

The cynicism of it all – Kondo is one of a long line of lifestyle gurus who poses smiling in front of spotless, professionally staged sets, and promises "this can be your life!". (As long as you buy their products, of course.) The overexposure – Kondo has been all over the news for the last few weeks. And there's a whiff of exoticism – like, we can't settle for mundane Western methods of decluttering; we need the mystical secrets of the East.

I promise that I'm not frothing with vitriol. But Kondo sure appears to occupy the same aspirational, cult-of-personality place in the capitalist machine that's occupied by celebrity chefs, and celebrity doctors, and reality TV. Which I regard with equal skepticism.

tl;dr: Tidying up (and cooking, and medicine, and life in general) don't need to be mediated by the corporate entertainment industry.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:26 AM on January 22 [72 favorites]


Yeah, the Kondo backlash rampaged through a librarian Facebook group I belong to a week or two ago. although the counterbacklash was fun to watch.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:39 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Kondo is one of a long line of lifestyle gurus who poses smiling in front of spotless, professionally staged sets, and promises "this can be your life!".

Personally I'm a devotee of the Brosh Method.
posted by flabdablet at 4:43 AM on January 22 [34 favorites]


escape from the potato planet, I hear you. Those were my reasons for refusing to read the book.

But I have to say that watching the show makes it seem less condescendingly woo-woo. The “does it spark joy” thing, in practice, turns out to be just a framework for people to recognize their actual emotions about an object. Are you keeping it because it makes you happy, or because you feel guilty or shameful or fearful about it? It’s useful — and can be surprisingly hard — to tell the difference.

When I decluttered before a 1400-mile move (without Marie Kondo), the question I asked myself was “Is this really worth the hassle and cost of dragging it 1400 miles to the new place?” A different question, but the same ultimate effect. It threw my actual feelings into sharp relief. Whether my answer an immediate “Yes, of course!” or “Meh” or “Well… I’d like to say I’ll use it, but the reality is I haven’t used it in ten years, so.” — I learned a lot about how I really felt. And there was a lot of grieving about things related to aspirations that hadn’t worked out, or times in my life now past*.

Also — it took the impending huge event of a move in order for me to do this. So yeah, people do actually need to be told this. And it was pretty emotionally raw and exhausting, so some validation — even from the TV — is nice.

tl;dr I’ve done a big declutter totally DIY, and it was really hard and surprisingly emotional. I think KonMari seems like one potentially useful framework to process those emotions about your things.

*I don’t mean photos or souvenirs. I mean like 5 file boxes of school notes.
posted by snowmentality at 4:52 AM on January 22 [108 favorites]


I'd been hanging on to a handful of very thick books on a particular web technology that was a big deal in the early 2000s. The reason being that I was a contributing author to a couple, and was credited in a couple of others. Not particularly great books by any measure.

Anyway, they went into the paper recycling the other week. They weren't ever going to be useful to anyone again, so I had no qualms about it.

It feels good to have shed the weight of that paper. True, my kids won't have the chance to not-read those books that dad helped to write. But it's helped me come to my own philosophy on keeping stuff around: when I die, do I want this stuff to be part of my legacy? I don't really give a monkey's about a 'legacy', but it's a way of framing the process of getting rid of stuff as something liberating.
posted by pipeski at 4:54 AM on January 22 [16 favorites]


Kondo is one of a long line of lifestyle gurus who poses smiling in front of spotless, professionally staged sets, and promises "this can be your life!".

To be fair the folks in the Netflix show don't generally wind up with perfect homes and the show doesn't hide that. I know you're talking about posing for promo photos but I think it's important that in the show the homes are less cluttered but still quite short of perfect.

I don't think she's selling books and going on Netflix out of compassion for humankind (though it *could* be a factor, I'm sure money and recognition are important to her). There are things about her approach that I'm not comfortable with and UFYH is more my style. But she still has some ideas that I find helpful and would not have come up with on my own. I'm not going to ignore those just because she's ambitious and has become part of the machine, wittingly or no.

Yeah, it's true that we are constantly being sold the hope of perfection or at least better. But I think the reason it works is that problems like too much stuff - and the guilt, anxiety and frustration that come along for the ride - are real problems that a lot of people have. Something like a book or a TV that breaks down an overwhelming, scary process and gives you permission to let go of things you are clinging to can be truly helpful.

Stuff is not just stuff - it's emotional. For many of us our stuff represents lost loved ones, hopes for a better self, connection to the past.
posted by bunderful at 4:58 AM on January 22 [34 favorites]


The fact that people apparently need to be told this, or need to have it validated by someone on the TV, or something.

Better this than need to be told what to think about politics by moronic hacks in expensive suits. I mean, yeah, the existence of an all pervasive media is a bad fucking thing, but given all the actual damage it's doing I think that getting worked up about a person suggesting that we do some tidying, rather than those who (e.g.) suggest that we treat the rise of fascism as a reasonable response to immigration, is a symptom of media malaise, not a solution.

Consumerism and the media are bad, but they're everywhere, and in much worse forms than this. This is not a hill that anyone, except racists and misogynists, ought to die on.
posted by howfar at 5:01 AM on January 22 [12 favorites]


Haven't seen the show, but read the book, I'm loving the memes, and I do apply her tidying principles to my space, and my life.

I'm a book-lover and I always understood the difference between books that spark joy and books that feel like an anchor. The weird backlash is bizarre.

Also I notice many of the memes involved "tidying up" husbands... I know correlation does not equal causation, but it was only a year after reading her book that I said thank you for your service to my ex.... interesting....

And for what it's worth: I think her methods, among other changes I've made in my life (like meditation), have definitely made me, if not happier (as a consumer? as a person?) perhaps more "at peace" with what I let into and let go of in my life.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:03 AM on January 22 [25 favorites]


I think that getting worked up about a person suggesting that we do some tidying, rather than those who (e.g.) suggest that we treat the rise of fascism as a reasonable response to immigration

Good Lord. False dichotomy much?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:05 AM on January 22 [14 favorites]


I haven't read Kondo, but *writes multiple paragraphs attacking something that resembles Kondo's work in no way whatsover*
posted by ominous_paws at 5:10 AM on January 22 [148 favorites]


Hypothetical popcorn, applied to internet meltdowns, brings me joy right now.

IMO, there are all sorts of reasons to buy books. Among many other reasons: Some people buy books to read them, and if they pass them along later, it's OK. The worth lies in the reading, and that's done. Some people buy books to keep them, and then if they read them later, it's OK. The main point is to have as many as possible; their worth lies in being owned, not being used.

But the latter group takes very strong offense to the first.

Hey Ravenclaws? You are not a better person than me because you hoard books. No really. You're not.

Signed, Salty Hufflepuff. <3
posted by cage and aquarium at 5:16 AM on January 22 [18 favorites]


as a species we cant even tidy up our shit without creating a 'narrative' or drama around it 🤦
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:18 AM on January 22 [10 favorites]


Owning more books than you are capable of reading in your lifetime without breaking some sort of basic causality principle is what makes us human, no?
posted by signal at 5:21 AM on January 22 [16 favorites]


The fact that people apparently need to be told this, or need to have it validated by someone on the TV, or something. (The whole notion that she has a brilliant, revolutionary new "method". "Get rid of stuff you don't want/use/need" has always worked for me – what more could there possibly be to it? – and I've never expected life-changing joy and/or magic from the process.)

I mean, yes? People do find worth in validation from outside sources, regardless of their level of celebrity. People do find worth in being told "obvious" things, because maybe there's still an angle you hadn't considered before or maybe it was explained in just the right way to make it resonate more with your personal philosophy. There's worth in being given a framework and a step-by-step process when you feel overwhelmed with an idea and need some guidance on where to start.

Marie Kondo doesn't really focus on things to get rid of; she focuses on what you want to keep. In the end it might seem like the same result, but the mindset is different. Marie is asking people to reevaluate what they want to keep in their life and how we interact with our material possessions. And for some people, that concept is threatening.
posted by lesser weasel at 5:21 AM on January 22 [71 favorites]


I dunno, I found Marie’s methodology worked for me. I’m the last person on earth without Netflix, because I’m just too ADD to sit still to watch tv, so I’ve not seen the show, but her book was a revelation to me.

This article is funny, and I can’t help but think it may be a quiet thought in the back of Marie’s head, that gives her joy.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:23 AM on January 22 [11 favorites]


I'm waiting for the counter-series: Joy Through Clutter.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:25 AM on January 22 [9 favorites]


D_W_S: With terrible inevitability a *ton* of those got published immediately after the success of the original book, mostly quickly-knocked-out half-assed satire designed to desperately catch and leech on to the wave of public discourse around it, rather than thoughtful treatises on the benefits of having a whole lot of possessions.

Oh, I need to go and make another entry in the "what shitty things do people do in your industry" post, huh.
posted by ominous_paws at 5:29 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for the counter-series: Joy Through Clutter.

Hosted by the Collyer brothers, no doubt.
posted by JanetLand at 5:32 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


I feel like this sums up a lot of the (frankly baffling) vitriol I've seen over the past few years re: Marie Kondo, which has now only worsened because there's something to binge watch. I really loved the show, and I would watch a second season, but I like her methods in general. I just cannot understand the frothing hate.
For me it's less about Kondo herself than about the cult-like nonsense that springs up around her and others like her. Kondo herself seems fairly reasonable; the people who are her fans (or at least many of those I have encountered on Facebook and the like) do not. They seem to treat it as yet another way of demonstrating moral superiority through what is essentially a way of living only available to the middle class or wealthier anyway. There was a personal essay some years ago (and I'm sorry but Google is failing me in my search for a link) that spoke to why poor people tend to have so much stuff. Why the junk drawer? Why the rotted out cars in the front yard? Why do you carry a bag around with you with a million things in it? The answer was: in case we need something. When you're poor you do a lot of hanging on to stuff "just in case," because replacement costs are often beyond you, but repair costs aren't, if you have some stuff hanging around. (I used to have a whole basket of damaged jeans so I could cut pieces out to patch my "good" jeans if something happened to them, because replacing them was out of the question.) For the middle class or wealthy, all that stuff the poor drag through their lives can be replaced by a wallet and a little sliver of plastic.

Kondo's method is ultimately for helping the middle class deal with one of their peculiar anxieties, and I don't see her presenting it as anything else, but many of her (ugh) followers have run with it as a kind of moral purity test, one that allows them to look down on the poors across the tracks.
posted by Fish Sauce at 5:53 AM on January 22 [94 favorites]


I've only watched the show and ready some articles/been aware of the general buzz ever since the book came out. I decided it would be good to do some thinning out so it's easier to maintain some semblance of order in a 150-year-old house that is not designed for a modern accumulative lifestyle and that lacks closets, garage, attic, or even a proper basement.
Since I don't have the book I'm definitely not doing it by the book, but there are a few concepts that I have found useful so far--the biggest of which, of course, is what I understand her to mean by the spark joy manifesto. To clarify a vision of future you and the life you want to be leading, and how this or that possession helps or hinders you in achieving that. To be mindful about each possession in a way that delves deeper than "do I like it" and "is it useful" (because the answer for 95% of the stuff we hold on to, the answer will be yes).
I moved in 2016 and again in 2017 and you would think that in those processes I would have done a pretty good job of paring down my possessions, but my lifestyle now is somewhat different than it was at those points. In terms of clothes, for example, I could see a benefit from rebalancing my wardrobe to reflect that. Also, moving is both a great and a terrible time to take stock of your possessions because there's so much to deal with in a short period of time and sometimes it's just easier to chuck it all in a box than to go through item by item.
I also don't get that there's a huge "KonMari Industrial Complex" that's been built up. There's two books and a TV show. There's not a line of KonMari drawer dividers or folding boards available at Target. Lots of people have a few books and a TV show out (Antony Bourdain!) and that is not per se cause for criticism, is it?
posted by drlith at 5:59 AM on January 22 [18 favorites]


I don't hate Marie Kondo. I hate when my friends get obsessed with her decluttering methods and want to tell me all about how liberating it is for them to get rid of stuff and there's this unpleasant undertone about minimalism and class status, as noted more eloquently by Fish Sauce.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:04 AM on January 22 [17 favorites]


In the grim darkness of the year 2035, there is only Marie Kondo

JOY FOR THE JOY GOD
CLUTTER FOR HIS CLUTTER THRONE
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:07 AM on January 22 [65 favorites]


Every 6 months I cull my stuff and send what I don't want and isn't junk to the thrift stores. Even my book collection is modest. Having lived in small places since college, it's just turned into a habit which I've kept up even though I live in a reasonably-sized place now. I still want as much space as possible that's not filled with stuff. However, I do have a box of things for memories, I mean, I am keeping my high school varsity letter and numerals, and the R.E.M. and Camper Van Beethoven backstage passes and autographs I got in the 80s.

I'd never heard of Marie Kondo until last week when a load of my FB pals took up her challenge. None of them seemed upset about it, but TFA was funny!
posted by droplet at 6:09 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


My parents don't have much money and grew up with even less. The do, however, own a home my dad build with his own two hands when he was 64 years old and their previous house burned down. Now he's in his mideighties and the projects are starting to pile up. He refurbishes boats, cars, tractors, etc. and has been accumulating more projects over the past 20 years that have basically filled a two acre lot they live on. He has also filled the house with smaller projects and tons of drawings and plans. I think that the thought of becoming more disabled with age is having a very serious impact on him. He really cannot face being dependent on others or that he might have to spend some money on letting someone else repair his car, house and maybe clean his house, That would happen when hell freezes over. I realize this isn't the target audience of Kondo's show from what I gather since I haven't seen the show myself, but I think the desire to accumulate "junk" (not books!) is a strong force for people who have felt on the edge of homelessness due to distaster, or more likely, poverty. The insecurity can affect people without security or those with it. My guess is that to trivialize accumulating stuff that doesn't bring us joy isn't going to ring for people that cannot understand what is going on to make them behave this way. I on the other hand, hold onto very little and have relatively little problem avoiding purchases that I don't need. So I thank my dad for that, because he certainly never made me feel poor growing up.
posted by waving at 6:16 AM on January 22 [10 favorites]


the counter-series: Joy Through Clutter

"If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?" - Ablert Eisntein
posted by flabdablet at 6:19 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


i don't think "moar stuff = better than" but i kind of lump marie kondo in with that top-down "low expectations is hip fellow kids" messaging that brings us furniture made from pallets and housing made from empty cargo containers
posted by entropicamericana at 6:24 AM on January 22 [10 favorites]


Totally unrelated to the show, I’m getting rid of some books simply because I ran out of space on my bookshelves, and want to have room for newer books that I am more interested in. I definitely used the “does it spark joy?” method when deciding which ones to take off the shelf.

The losing books have been banished to a corner of my living room; haven’t quite brought myself to cart them away yet...
posted by mantecol at 6:25 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


The book is gendered to a completely obnoxious level, and the whole "well if you need it later you can replace it, there's no need to keep stuff" thing doesn't even reliably apply to the middle class, much less anybody below that point. Mental health issues don't, as far as I got into the book, seem to even exist except as a reflection of living in a messy house. And the one really unforgivable sin, to me, is that she says that the method only works if you did it wrong: Any relapse is because you failed, personally, not because her method is insufficiently universal.

I think that last is part of why people get kind of up in arms about the specifics, because there is a very strong implication in the book, at least, that failing to fold your socks exactly the right way is going to cause you to live in chaos for the rest of your life, so I can't imagine the books thing really comes off any differently. If the method needs to be followed thoroughly and completely or you're a failure, you don't get to do the pick and choose sort of "well these bits work for me" thing. If she allowed for picking and choosing, I'm realizing, this might not be a problem.
posted by Sequence at 6:27 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


I agree people misinterpret Kondo's philosophy. We are taking the salad bar approach to simplifying and just completed "clothes". I think "paper" is supposed to be next but we're going to tackle bathrooms first. My wife read her book 2-3 years ago and tried to get me on board, but I couldn't envision myself living with any less stuff than I had at that time.

That eventually changed, and I've done two big clothing purges. I decided if I can't find a tidy spot for a particular piece of clothing, it had to go. That simple. Choose what's worthy of a nice spot in the house and what's not. Done.

I mean like 5 file boxes of school notes. sigh That's me, too. I love looking through other people's old yearbooks. I love digging through shoeboxes of random concert tickets, pay stubs, event fliers, and newspaper clippings from my grandparents. I love the forensic dive in the detritus and being rewarded with a peek into the life they wouldn't think to document otherwise.

Seriously, I will lose myself in a yearbook or box of old church newsletters. Fascinating.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:27 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


My willingness to discuss Kondo as part of a long-line of attempts to systematically make housework compatible with industrial values is tempered by the gross misogyny I see from some of her critics.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:29 AM on January 22 [22 favorites]


I decluttered with paid help six weeks or so ago. I hated every second of it because my clutter was my security blanket. For the first week my apartment felt like a creepy hotel room, and I still look around for things that aren't there. I will never recommend this to anyone. If people spontaneously want to do it, great, I'll give them tips. But the idea that we should all do the minimalist thing makes me want to throw up. It's classist AF. Stuff isn't inherently bad.

I did it for my mental health and mostly don't regret it, but *primal scream*
posted by wellred at 6:32 AM on January 22 [11 favorites]


I haven't read her stuff yet (but am interested to), but we have been researching some of the minimalist philosophy stuff and cleaning out clutter in our home. Lots of clothes and books to donate.

One strategy that I read and have found very helpful: For items with some sentimental value but no other value, like cookware I don't ever use or random gifts from a loved on that are like 15 years old and just collect dust in a closet, I take a photograph of the item. A nice one, white background, with good lighting. Then I get rid of the item. At the end of this process, I will have a photo album of stuff to look through. It's essentially the same, without the clutter. I get to look at the thing, remember with fondness the people who thought highly enough of me to give a gift, remember a time and place with affection, and then close the photo album and put it back on the shelf. Entire floors of our house condensed into a book we can pick up and smile over.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:46 AM on January 22 [12 favorites]


I recently saw Marie Kondo at 92Y and she was asked about the Twitter Outrage--she basically said that it was great because such strong feelings showed that their books were invaluable and they should keep them.

Ngl, all the hot takes based on Straw Kondo who Hates All Things Especially Books do not spark joy and I would like to thank them and send them on their way.
posted by betweenthebars at 6:47 AM on January 22 [77 favorites]


Her attitude toward books is what convinced me to ignore her. Yes, my house is a mess but it's my mess and books are big part of it.
posted by tommasz at 6:48 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


> The “does it spark joy” thing, in practice, turns out to be just a framework for people to recognize their actual emotions about an object.

This is absolutely true and yes, people often need a framework or a narrative to ease them through this sort of process. As an adult I've never owned a lot of stuff, with the exception of my record collection, and when my wife bought Kondo's book and explained the idea behind her method I realized that "Does it spark joy?" was, in so many words, the question I asked myself whenever I decided to weed a record. And before that I read a couple of books (Retromania by Simon Reynolds and To Have and To Hold by Phillip Blom) about collecting which really laid out a lot of the psychological and emotional underpinnings of collecting and materialism that I hadn't given much if any thought to, despite being a collector of various things since the age of six or seven. I didn't understand the reason for the anxiety I experienced whenever the size of my collection got past a certain point until I read this passage in Reynolds' book:

The music obsessive's version of a midlife crisis is when all those potential pleasures stacked on the shelves stop representing delight and start to feel like harbingers of death. Which is a cruel irony, because the standard psychoanalytic interpretation of obsessive collecting is that it is a way of warding off death, or at least a displacement of abstract, inconsolable anxieties, often rooted in childhood feelings of helplessness. Having all this stuff, the unconscious logic goes, protects you against loss. But eventually having all this stuff keeps on reminding you of the inevitability of loss.

YMMV, but for me this really resonated and has made it even easier for me to let go of things (or not acquire them in the first place; as a collector I've always been a curator rather than a completist). This is, I think, what Dressed To Kill was alluding to in their comment about "the difference between books that spark joy and books that feel like an anchor."

> Stuff is not just stuff - it's emotional. For many of us our stuff represents lost loved ones, hopes for a better self, connection to the past.

Definitely! Walter Benjamin (my main man) talks about how and why objects can attain a value separate from their utilitarian function in "Unpacking My Library":

"Everything remembered and thought, everything conscious, becomes the pedestal, the frame, the base, the lock of his property. The period, the region, the craftmanship, the former ownership -- for a true collector the whole background of an item adds up to a magic encyclopedia whose quintessence is the fate of his object."

This can complicate the decluttering decision-making process, but really what it comes down to for me is whether or not the book or record or knick-knack is sparking joy or bringing me happiness or whatever you want to call it. And if a messy house full of books or whatever your passion is brings you joy, then more power to you. As TFA said, the book and article are a suggestion, not a threat.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:51 AM on January 22 [19 favorites]


I will say this: she keeps her books spines-in.
posted by Artw at 6:52 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I will say this: she keeps her books spines-in.

I wonder though if this might primarily be a privacy or security measure.
posted by turkeybrain at 7:01 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


all im saying if there isn't a line of marie kondo branded organization or cleaning products in my target within the next few years i will eat my hat
posted by entropicamericana at 7:02 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


essentially a way of living only available to the middle class or wealthier anyway

And now I'm trying to imagine the world's billionaires trying to do this. Like Larry Ellison pondering, "hmm, I do enjoy my 454 foot mega-yacht. It's very impressive, and we've been together a long time. I like that it has a basketball court, and I can have a couple guys follow us in a powerboat to retrieve any balls that go overboard.* But I can't sail it to my personal Hawaiian Island of Lanai because there isn't an anchorage deep enough for it.* Does it really spark joy for me?

No, I can make do with a smaller 288-foot yacht. I can sell this one to David Geffen.*


*Yes. Seriously.
posted by Naberius at 7:17 AM on January 22 [17 favorites]


You basucally only need to do this if there’s a premium on square footage and less of a premium on stuff. Given the way housing prices are everywhere the rich are pretty much the only ones excluded from that.
posted by Artw at 7:20 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


But the idea that we should all do the minimalist thing makes me want to throw up.

Sooo I didn't buy her books or anything (I live a half mile from one branch of a large library system, and a bookmobile from another stops a couple blocks away every week, and both offer e-books) but there's nothing about the process that's inherently going to result in minimalism. Just, like, not keeping a bunch of shit around that makes you unhappy.

It has been the only method for reconsidering the current value of some of my possessions I've tried that didn't make me feel bad about myself. Part of that is because it doesn't involve listening to anyone else's opinions about what I need and want in my life. Just mine.
posted by asperity at 7:30 AM on January 22 [46 favorites]


all im saying if there isn't a line of marie kondo branded organization or cleaning products in my target within the next few years i will eat my hat

I'm surprised there aren't because I would gladly have bought a KonMari case instead of one from Muji when I went through my pens and notebooks over the weekend. It turned out that only two dried out highlighters did not spark joy, the problem was that they weren't being stored in a way that I could actually use them. I was so happy once I finished that I took a picture of my nicely organized pens and stationery and sent it to my mother. "That's a lot of pens, so how many are you planning on getting rid of?" I had to explain that I was showing her the AFTER picture and that KonMari is about choosing what to keep, not what to throw away.

Anyway, if Kondo wants to sell me a bathroom organizer, she needs to get on that fast because the bathroom stuff is next on my list.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:32 AM on January 22 [10 favorites]


Those dried out highlighters came into my life to teach me that I never use highlighters so I don't need to buy them even when they're on sale and really cheap.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:34 AM on January 22 [32 favorites]


Of course, Marie Kondo is now selling things to you as part of her growing lifestyle empire - in this case, a bunch of motherfucking boxes with names like "Balance" and "Clarity". That'll be $89, please.

It seems like no one is really threading the needle between Konmari, corporate "subtractivism" as lifestyle goal, and economic recession. Without explicitly mentioning the cult of Kondo, Paul Roquet talks about this in his book Japanese Atmospheres of Self (see that word "balance" popping up again!) His discussion (1, 2) in that book on the rise of neoliberal "emotional capitalism" self-help in Japan is interesting. I find the context helpful to evaluate this phenomenon and the growing fascination with it in the West.

The last line in that excerpt (which discusses the film Tony Takitani) kind of brings the point home for me: "The emerging emphasis on personal mood regulation promoted a more rational and efficient self that didn't let unruly emotions get in the way." That's what the fairly reductionist "spark joy" dictum seems like to me - part of a long-standing reaction against feeling out and giving space and importance to your messy emotions, contradictions, doubts, fears, unsorted ambiguities, etc. - the stuff that makes you you - in favor of personal mood regulation and smoothing your internal and external life out into bland binaries of joy / not joy. Granted, I also haven't read her book, so grain of salt - though I'm inclined to take up her advice and pirate her ebook rather than having her book clutter up my shelves.
posted by naju at 7:34 AM on January 22 [9 favorites]


The backlash re. books specifically feels suggestive about the aspirations, anxieties, and maybe magical thinking? that educated middle class folks have around books. I'm not immune to that stuff, myself, but when there's this much bawling, some nerve has been touched.
posted by salt grass at 7:37 AM on January 22 [31 favorites]


Whenever I think of Marie Kondo I immediately think of my favorite AbFab episode where Edina's minimalist friend is coming to visit and Edina's all like "Surfaces, darling! I want clean lines and surfaces!"

I'll put my devotion to STUFF (and particularly books) next to anyone's. And at the moment, for a variety of reasons, my house looks like a hurricane blew through it. I mean, that shit needs some industrial strength Marie Kondo right now. But even I've been rolling my eyes at the highly wroughtness of "How DARE she tell me to get rid of my books!" Because, like, I'm pretty sure she's not going to climb in through a window one night, put my books in a truck, and drive away.

(Tho I admit the slim chance that I'd be better off if she did.)
posted by octobersurprise at 7:37 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


the counter-series: Joy Through Clutter

It's called Antiques Roadshow.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 7:39 AM on January 22 [63 favorites]


there's nothing about the process that's inherently going to result in minimalism. Just, like, not keeping a bunch of shit around that makes you unhappy.

Yeah, I was quite cynical before I read the book after it first got mentioned here. Reading it and realising the stuff I love and use all the time gets the floordrobe or the chair whilst other stuff sits unloved and unlooked at for months or years at a time was a real revelation to me.
posted by threetwentytwo at 7:42 AM on January 22 [32 favorites]


I read her book. Here was my review:

"3/5. Honestly, I think the basic principles espoused in this book are pretty good ones, but the details quickly get odd and repetitive. It didn't really need a whole book to express the parts of it that are worthwhile; a 20-page pamphlet would have been fine."

That being said, I used her ideas to do some tidying up of my own stuff, including my books. Ended up getting rid of about 600 books I didn't much care for and keeping about 1200 that I did, a result I think she would have been delighted by. The idiots raging that she wants people to get rid of all their books are idiots.

Haven't seen her TV show yet, will probably give it a look at some point.
posted by kyrademon at 7:48 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Of course, Marie Kondo is now selling things to you as part of her growing lifestyle empire - in this case, a bunch of motherfucking boxes with names like "Balance" and "Clarity". That'll be $89, please.

Interestingly, those boxes no longer appear on the site. But I honestly think this is the most sensible way for her to merchandise and the way that fits closest with her actual method. They are not impulse organizational purchases; they are an aesthetic choice one might make for the organization process when one is very near the end if one happened to particularly like a certain style of things. Not that I'd ever buy them, and the color selections I'm seeing here suggest some continuing gender issues with the brand, but. If she starts selling cheap boxes at Target, that will be the point where it's clear she's only in this for cash and she doesn't care if she sells you organizational stuff that never gets used.
posted by Sequence at 7:48 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


It didn't really need a whole book to express the parts of it that are worthwhile; a 20-page pamphlet would have been fine

So are you saying the book needs... decluttering
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:50 AM on January 22 [18 favorites]


I'll point out that the article about the $89 KonMari hikidashi boxes available for preorder dates to July of last year (along with a whole slew of other product launch blog articles) and the boxes are not available on the website currently and I'm curious if they ever even did make it to market.
posted by drlith at 7:51 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


My go-to question has become: when I die, will my kid have any connection to this/want it for any reason?

That doesn't mean I have to get rid of it, as I'm not dead yet, but it does put it into perspective. What will my dad's high school report card mean to a descendant who never met him?

I'm about to get into some heavy paper-tossing this year, post-divorce, post-losing many things to smoke damage from a next-door fire.

I find Kondo's show not all that rewarding because it doesn't give you the fantasy transformation, of say, "let our experts turn your home beautiful," it's just people bagging up their stuff and inadvertantly revealing uncomfortable truths about their less-than-great family relationships.* I also wonder a lot about landfills and donation, which doesn't get addressed at all; does Kondo take any responsibility for telling people to get rid of junk responsibly if they can, not just throw it in dumpsters?

*The widow whose kids refused to help her go through their own childhood stuff filled me with sputtering rage. Your mom is weeping while dealing with grief and her house full of memories of a man she lost, and a lot of it is your junk, go help her you ungrateful twerps.
posted by emjaybee at 7:53 AM on January 22 [24 favorites]


For me, the appeal of minimalism is that, as someone with ADHD, I am acutely aware of the overhead that every additional possession incurs.

Every additional thing I own is an impediment to being able to find some other thing that I have misplaced. Every item demands a tiny scrap of my depleted pool of attention and memory to recall both that it exists in my house and where.

Every item has a cost of ownership in the form of maintenance, whether that is effort required to keep it running safely and properly (computers, appliances), or just preventing it from accumulating a thick layer of dust.

Finally, every book, DVD, game, or project that I have on hand represents a step towards overwhelm and choice paralysis. For me, every choice I have in how I spend my time increases the chance that I will spend my time doing nothing.

tl;dr: minimalism may be a response to rampant consumerism or a case of bourgeois moral one-upmanship, but for scatterbrains like me, it’s a useful tool for tuning my environment to better work with my limitations.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:59 AM on January 22 [78 favorites]


Decluttering? I just tell visitors we have been dealing with a poltergeist. It sparks some joyful conversations, I can tell you that.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:59 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


the counter-series: Joy Through Clutter
----
Her attitude toward books is what convinced me to ignore her. Yes, my house is a mess but it's my mess and books are big part of it.
----


Well, according to this Refinery 29 interview:

Q: I think a lot of fashion-conscious women (and also men!) struggle with balancing a love of clothing and a desire to keep up with the trends, with that more minimalist lifestyle that they also crave. What advice do you have for people like that?

A: So, the important thing is that you don’t have to deny yourself. The point of KonMari method is not to have fewer items but rather to learn to cherish the items that you do have and that you truly love. So it’s very important to get an accurate grasp on how many clothes you actually love — touch them, piece by piece, and really see if they truly raise your joy.

Q: What do you say to people who argue that clutter does actually bring them joy?

A: It’s no problem at all. I think if you're truly comfortable with clutter in your home, then that's fine. There's nothing wrong with that, but I will recommend that you still have a designated spot for each item, and also to understand how much quantity of each category of things you have and need. I think that's an important awareness to have.

Q: Some people seem to really struggle with the concept of assessing items based on whether or not they bring them joy, because then, what do you do with things that you need — like, say, a hammer — but that don’t necessarily make you feel joyful?

A: I often get this question, and I think when it comes to things that you find necessary or useful but doesn't necessarily spark joy, I recommend changing your perspective a little bit, when it comes to the things that are useful to them. What do you make happen with them?
Because for instance, with a hammer, it helps you build things or tongs, they help you cook. So when you look at it that way, they do contribute to the overall happiness in your life and so it's very important to so a value them.
posted by cendawanita at 8:00 AM on January 22 [51 favorites]


I certainly don't hate Kondo – but the whole phenomenon is kind of exasperating. The use of words like "life-changing" and "magic" and "joy". The fact that there's an international media personality whose entire schtick is apparently "get rid of stuff you don't want/use/need". The fact that people apparently need to be told this, or need to have it validated by someone on the TV, or something.

I think that fact is illustrative of the idea that ownership of stuff is more fraught than we allow for, and far more complex than our rate of consumption can address. Surely there is more to critique about the modern practice of throwing broken stuff away and simply buying a new one than the environmental externalities involved... never repairing things may be damaging to our psyche in deeper, more subtle ways. As may be acquiring vast but necessarily incomplete collections of things. Kondo is at least approaching these critiques. The fact that she is getting commoditized and now producing superfluous stuff is again illustrative of a problem our society has. Our reification is now thoroughly wedded to production and consumption, and a transaction is always part of any given chain of signifiers that leads us to a thought or a feeling.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 8:03 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


seeing westerners trip over the whole concept of 'spark joy' has been ... rather unsurprising to me, tbh. i've always thought it was an inexact translation that was going to lead us all into this exact rabbit hole.
posted by cendawanita at 8:04 AM on January 22 [22 favorites]


That article is pure gold because I love those CORMORAN FUCKING STRIKE books. Marie is about surrounding yourself with joy, not about getting angry at stuff. That people get angry at her is guaranteed then.

I certainly don't hate Kondo – but the whole phenomenon is kind of exasperating. The use of words like "life-changing" and "magic" and "joy". The fact that there's an international media personality whose entire schtick is apparently "get rid of stuff you don't want/use/need". The fact that people apparently need to be told this, or need to have it validated by someone on the TV, or something

It's more than that.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:08 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


I recommend this endlessly scrolling overdose of minimalist cliches if you want to disabuse yourself of the notion that your minimalist aesthetic is tasteful or cool
posted by naju at 8:13 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Austin Kleon (earlier) has some thoughts about being an artist and a pack rat in the age of Kondo.
posted by PhineasGage at 8:14 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


The backlash re. books specifically feels suggestive about the aspirations, anxieties, and maybe magical thinking? that educated middle class folks have around books. I'm not immune to that stuff, myself, but when there's this much bawling, some nerve has been touched.

Totally. All the hand-wringing about the book thing is irritating in two ways: 1) this aspirational thing of loving books sooooo much, like loving books is a personality trait. 2) it's a willful misinterpretation of what she actually says about books, and if you spent five seconds reading, you would know that.

Also, it was very obvious when she gets to the part about putting away each of your toiletries after you shower (i.e. you get your shampoo out of a cabinet for each shower, rather than leaving it in the stall), that this was going to be a "take what you like and leave the rest" kind of thing. Also, nobody's forcing you to do anything.
posted by witchen at 8:14 AM on January 22 [32 favorites]


It's really, really interesting to see "don't keep things you hate" equated with aesthetic minimalism.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:14 AM on January 22 [48 favorites]


I was serious, by the way. I love entering an old, used bookstore where the bookshelves seem ready to swallow you whole.
I love stumbling upon a memory at the bottom of a mostly junk-filled box.
I love when people share rambling stories that go nowhere and everywhere.
To me, that is life.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:14 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]




You basucally only need to do this if there’s a premium on square footage and less of a premium on stuff

This is something that has bothered me about the narrative that de-cluttering is only for the rich or middle class. There are different ways to be poor, or broke - and a lot of it depends on where you live. I live in a city with insane housing costs and make far below the median wage. Most of my personal belongings need to fit into a single bedroom of a shared apartment.

I find it frustrating and stressful to pick my way over piles of stuff, or to be constantly shuffling through things to find what I need. Recently, I got rid of my dresser in order to make some more room, which meant going through my clothes and getting rid of a lot of them. I still have more that I can get rid of, and plan to do so once the winter is over.

If you saw my room, you wouldn't think it was minimalist - and you might even think it's a little cluttered. But I've put some effort into making it into a space that I find relaxing, rather than stressful, and a large part of that is precisely cutting down the amount of stuff in it.

It hasn't been my experience that I've lost money by throwing out things I might need. The things that break or wear out are things that I either can't repair, or aren't worth it because the repair would take time I don't have and replacements are affordable.

A lot of Kondo's approach is just the common sense that I try to apply to keep my space and belongings manageable for me. I particularly like the distinction between keeping something because you like it and use it, and keeping something because you would feel bad about getting rid of it (it was a gift, you spent good money on it, etc). I'm never going to do the twee thing where I thank an object, but the criteria is a useful one for many people, not just people who are well off.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:26 AM on January 22 [35 favorites]


The fact that people apparently need to be told this, or need to have it validated by someone on the TV, or something.

I've felt this off and on during the years even with some questions on AskMe, like, "what adult needs to be TOLD this?" But I realized that some people were kind of (or very) failed by the people who were charged with raising them into adults. With this show, some people are having 'holy shit' moments when they see that they are ALLOWED to let things go, even their very dead great-grandmother's busted clock or that stack of papers.

Sure, some people are going to be the very!best!Konmari!adherent!ever! because everything is a competition these days. Eh. Others are going to have their lives changed in positive ways, and that's nice to see.
posted by kimberussell at 8:26 AM on January 22 [16 favorites]


It's really, really interesting to see "don't keep things you hate" equated with aesthetic minimalism.

It's kind of all of a piece, though, isn't it? There's this trend around minimalist design, hygge, KonMari, instagram lifestyle, self-care, slow or simple living, Kinfolk, etc. and it all ends up washing over you after a while. Maybe that's unfair to Ms. Kondo as I'm sure she stakes out her own space in this constellation of aspirational living. For what it's worth, this link to her product announcement upthread is what led me down that particular path - that arrangement of objects into a grid is itself a minimalist cliche (and weirdly triggers consumptive impulses in an "Apartment Therapy"-like way; I think psychologically the messaging is something like "that's it, that's the last thing I need and then my beautifully sparse, decluttered life is complete")
posted by naju at 8:28 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Does it help people understand if you frame Marie Kondo as partially a therapist? She is empowering people to control their space (and so their lives). "Duh, that should be obvious." is a thing I often feel after discussing a topic with my therapist but I needed to be SHOWN or work through the issue with someone.

"Duh, get rid of your shit." is like "Duh, have you tried not being constantly negative to yourself?" You can see this in episode 1 of the show where the woman feels so overwhelmed by her kitchen. That she didn't need 10000000 Tupperware didn't occur to her because we often just assume things are the way they are for a reason and will stay that way. She expresses happiness at how much more relaxed the space is after the process.

I just want to be a better person and in some way Marie did help me with that.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:32 AM on January 22 [33 favorites]


Austin Kleon (earlier) has some thoughts about being an artist and a pack rat in the age of Kondo.

Also brings to mind Ian Svenonius's 2014 article for Jacobin, "All Power to the Pack Rats".
posted by naju at 8:35 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I was one of those people who heard about the book (and rolled my eyes at the performative kondoing on social media) and thought, "this is not for me, I am not a minimalist" but ended up watching the show one day when I needed something to watch while I worked.

And there, it's much more obvious that the jist of "sparking joy" is as an alternative metric to "I might need this one day" or "I can't find this when I need it and that's why I have 9 of them and 5 are broken", both of which are less useful strategies for *getting rid of the things you never use and maybe even don't like but have guilt/hangups about discarding*. That's a lot different from minimalism.

And some people need help with that. (Some people also get value out of seeing messes that look like theirs being resolved in a reasonable manner.) If you're better than those people, good for you I guess, but not everyone has had the benefit of your best path in life. People have baggage, people have anxiety, people have trauma as a result of experiencing capitalism, and they need more help than you. Does protesting their path to getting more information, perspective, or examples do them any favors?

But what I also see is that there have been white men on television/book covers for many many years telling people to do some fucked-up shit, often involving giving them cash outright, and that is rarely worth this sort of sustained outrage. And white women, with only slightly more outrage. But a nonwhite woman who isn't Oprah suggests cleaning out your closet and putting stuff away and the vitriol is...certainly something. The aggression in the backlash is informative.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:37 AM on January 22 [87 favorites]


It's kind of all of a piece, though, isn't it?

It's not, though? You mentioned like half a dozen unrelated things with completely different cultural origins.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:55 AM on January 22 [10 favorites]


The backlash re. books specifically feels suggestive about the aspirations, anxieties, and maybe magical thinking? that educated middle class folks have around books. I'm not immune to that stuff, myself, but when there's this much bawling, some nerve has been touched.
Yep. That was the thing that hit me hardest when I originally read Kondo's book (and I agree with the idea that the book itself could use some decluttering; it would have been better as an article somewhere) - getting rid of clothes was easy (and felt great!), but I'm a big reader and the idea of getting rid of books made me feel kind of attacked. Reading her book, and thinking about the way that I felt about the idea of getting rid of my books, and talking to my therapist made me actually articulate and grapple with the fact that I'm also a big performative book-haver. I needed to work through my various feelings about that, but I didn't need to work through them loudly, in public.
I'm never going to do the twee thing where I thank an object
Honestly, I also thought it was really silly, but ritualizing the process of getting rid of things did seem to make it easier. I dunno, it still feels weird sometimes, but I'm more comfortable taking out the donation boxes after I do it.
posted by protocoach at 8:57 AM on January 22 [13 favorites]


The answer was: in case we need something. When you're poor you do a lot of hanging on to stuff "just in case," because replacement costs are often beyond you, but repair costs aren't, if you have some stuff hanging around.

This, this a thousand times. This is why I get so low level angry about it. I can’t fucking afford to keep only the things that spark joy and rebuy everything when I need it, and I think it’s detrimental as hell to encourage people to throw out things that can be repaired moderately easily.
posted by corb at 8:58 AM on January 22 [10 favorites]


Disclaimer: I haven't read her book(s?), or watched her show. And I haven't seen the vitriol and frothing hate of what you speak.

Ditto. I didn't even know here name until this all started blowing up. So, respectfully, allow me to break one of her paragraphs down.

I only wanted to make you happy.

Well, there's your fundamental mistake.

My advice

did I ask for it?

was, “Get rid of the books that intimidate you and make you feel like your reading list is never ending.” They exist! Stop lying to yourselves.

I don't have a reading list. What I do have is a bunch of books I hope to read sometime in whole or in part. And no, I'm not intimidated by them. Inspired is more like it, like plans for future travels to unknown perhaps fabulous lands.

Don’t tell me you’ll start that David McCullough book on Harry Truman your dad sent you apropos of nothing.

I do have a few books in my pile that I'm only hanging onto because they came as gifts, and I have a sort of rule about not recycling such stuff immediately. But I will in time.

Did you know he’s from Independence, Missouri? It’s in the first five pages. Of course you don’t, because you haven’t read the book,

This is the crux of where I figure you're most wrong. That the books to get rid of are the ones I haven't already read as opposed to the ones that I know are treasures indeed. I don't get rid of the treasures, but the majority are currently in boxes (waiting for that hoped for time that I finally have enough shelving to give them their deserved place -- it's a long story). Why? Because I've already them. The limited shelf space I have is reserved for A. stuff I haven't yet read, that I like to keep in plain sight because, as I suggested earlier, they inspire me, give me hope, and B. a dozen or so reference options.

so I’m sorry I suggested you get rid of the monolithic tome that’s been sitting on your kitchen counter—on your kitchen counter!—for two years!

The only things that make it to my kitchen counter are magazines, because sometimes I've got a few minutes to kill while in the midst of cooking something, waiting for water to boil, etc. They never last long. In fact, the other reason they're in the kitchen is because that's where I keep the recycling.

And finally in conclusion, Einstein's desk. Not saying I'm a genius, but at least I'm trying.
posted by philip-random at 9:02 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


It's not, though? You mentioned like half a dozen unrelated things with completely different cultural origins.

Well, yes, I was articulating an overarching cultural trend I've noticed out of multiple disparate trends of different origins. That'll happen. Not going to write up a treatise right now, granted.
posted by naju at 9:04 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


I can’t fucking afford to keep only the things that spark joy and rebuy everything when I need it

I think even this depends on the situation, though. I can’t afford to keep everything I might one day need, because I simply don’t have space. The rent increase I’d have to take in order to fit more is way greater than the cost of replacing some bulky items I probably won’t need for years. Same is probably even true for renting a storage unit.
posted by mantecol at 9:06 AM on January 22 [12 favorites]


philip-random, A) Kondo didn't write the linked article, it's a parody, and B) your response is, like, a pitch-perfect example of what salt grass was talking about in terms of the "aspirations, anxieties, and maybe magical thinking? that educated middle class folks have around books".
posted by protocoach at 9:08 AM on January 22 [59 favorites]


> I can’t fucking afford to keep only the things that spark joy and rebuy everything when I need it, and I think it’s detrimental as hell to encourage people to throw out things that can be repaired moderately easily.

That would definitely be detrimental and irresponsible, but my understanding is that the "sparking joy" judgement was meant to apply more to luxury (for differing values of "luxury") items than, say hammers or ladders or blenders or furniture or anything else which has a specific utilitarian function.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:09 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


There sure are a lot of people commenting who self-identify at not having any idea about the Konmari method and have done a whole lot of sanctimonious bragging up in here. Kind of proving the article's point.

Count me in as someone who was borderline hoarding and that the 'spark joy' criteria has been a revelation. Having my closet full of clothes that didn't fit but "maybe one day would" was getting in the way of me actually wearing and enjoying the clothes that did fit and is some of my favourite pieces now. As an artist, feeling the anxiety of "needing" to use everything I owned stopped me from actually using my favourite materials. I ended up donating a ton to my local public school.

She actually recommends donating as a means of getting rid of stuff in various articles and interviews, but it wasn't included in the book since Japan's recycling system is very efficient.
posted by vespertinism at 9:16 AM on January 22 [49 favorites]


I am really surprised by how much emotion there is about this on any side. As far as I can tell, from the outside, this person's books/show are just "clean ur room." I feel like there's definitely room for to sigh and roll your eyes and reluctantly do it as when anyone reminds you to clean your room. but it seems like some folks took to writing essays about it instead.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:17 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


I recommend this endlessly scrolling overdose of minimalist cliches if you want to disabuse yourself of the notion that your minimalist aesthetic is tasteful or cool
naju

But she's not espousing minimalism.

Well, yes, I was articulating an overarching cultural trend I've noticed out of multiple disparate trends of different origins. That'll happen. Not going to write up a treatise right now, granted.
naju

You might at least want to explain how what you listed are actually related in an "overarching cultural trend", though, because tobascodagama is right: those are a bunch of disparate things with different origins and aesthetics. Kondo, again, isn't even espousing minimalism.

Your entire criticism of her seems to be based around how an item was presented for sale on her website without actually addressing anything she has written or said. Multiple comments in this very thread quote interviews and writing from her that espouse the exact opposite of the minimalism and "corporate 'subtractivism'" you seem to associate her with.

She's explicitly not saying less = better, or that the right lifestyle is a minimal one. She's just advocating thinking carefully and deliberately about the stuff you have.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:19 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


Which is why it's a crap metric for 90 percent of household goods. As others have said above, it very much is a method pointed at well-off people, who both are more likely to have lots of non-functional items and to have a *reliable* income stream where they can be confident that if they throw something away they can buy another one in the future.

Which is fine, for the people it suits, but I get rather annoyed by the Kondo cultists. Especially the ones that insist you are racist or sexist for saying things like the above.
posted by tavella at 9:19 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


There are all sorts of race and gender things in the Kondo backlash, but I think the big unexamined thing is class. Americans tend to poo poo self-help as tacky and useless and all that, but if you're poor it's the only self-care you can afford.

Clutter is a problem. It can cause a lot of stress. And we're social conditioned just to add to it and add to it, and, if you are poor or have ever experienced poverty, it can be extremely hard to get rid of stuff that maybe one day will be useful, even though that stuff is causing you stress right now.

Kondo offers a pretty solid approach to deciding what you need and care about and how to put it away in a way that makes it easy to access. And we poo poo that, because who needs to tell people that, as though there is a decluttering instinct in humans, as though that isn't a taught skill that is largely absent in the US, where we are instead encouraged just to buy bigger spaces, more storage solutions, more ways to cluster our clutter.

If Marie Kondo isn't for you, it isn't for you. But if you decide to opine on it, especially if you haven't actually read her work, maybe you're the problem, not Kondo.
posted by maxsparber at 9:20 AM on January 22 [51 favorites]


I came here to comment "please note that the author of this piece is not, in fact, Marie fucking Kondo".

But also that one of the things that bugs me the most about The Discourse around how many books you should or shouldn't have is the bizarre hate for e-readers and not getting to experience ~the magic of holding a book in your hand~ and ~the smell of a book~ etc. I get not liking Amazon as a company, but thanks to my kindle and the kindle app I'm able to read so many more books than I otherwise would. Not only do I find that the format holds my attention much better (I probably have some kind of undiagnosed attention deficiency thing), it means I can bring literally hundreds of books with me on any vacation; I can read on public transit; I can read any time I'm in a waiting room or a long line; I can read literally any thing at any time. And yes, they do mean my 400 square foot studio apartment has less stuff in it.
posted by capricorn at 9:21 AM on January 22 [25 favorites]


I think of it less as minimalism than instagramism. Lots of white empty spaces with a few tasteful, joyful objects stacked on sparse shelves or geometric boxes, suitable for backgrounds for lifestyle photos. Not that I think that is what Kondo herself is using as a metric, but I think it's a big driver for the popularity of her stuff.
posted by tavella at 9:23 AM on January 22 [10 favorites]


Kondo has literally never told anybody to throw away something useful. In fact, she often joking tells an anecdote about when she was younger, and was a minimalist, throwing away a hammer because it didn't spark joy and then breaking something she cared about because she tried to use it as a hammer.

In the show, she often asks people if they see an object in their future along with asking if it sparks joy, because a hammer might not spark joy, but most people can definitely see a need for it in the future.
posted by maxsparber at 9:23 AM on January 22 [39 favorites]


That someone could mistake that article as actually written by Marie Fucking Kondo is hilarious.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:23 AM on January 22 [33 favorites]


As a result of the Konmari method of culling books, my wife and I are shopping for a new dining room table. Marie Kondo conveniently neglected to mention being careful about weight limits for whatever surface you decide to stack your books on.
posted by emelenjr at 9:24 AM on January 22 [22 favorites]


We recently had our great room painted and the carpet replaced, so it had to be basically empty aside from the dining room table and couches. I've always been a pretty cluttery person but sitting in a space that was so empty was really nice. This was our space seen in a whole new way and it really hit home for me. I don't want minimalism, but I do want to remove or hide the clutter. I want a functional space that is not distracting to look at for both of us to live in. We don't have a ton of company, so this is not a performative thing.

One of my parents owned both "Clutter's Last Stand" and "Tightwad Gazette" I made the observation that the two books have opposite goals. I feel like Kondo is a good mixture of each one by helping you evaluate your stuff in your life and seeing if it works for you or not. If you like having stacks of used and washed tinfoil, you can have it. If you feel it is weighing you down, you can throw it away. Yes, I do need someone to walk me through a process on how to do it because I have been trying for 20 plus years and it has not worked.

I understand the classist implications in a lot of decluttering advice. I feel the spark joy theory works better in most cases because it does not say you should throw out all but ten shirts. It pushes you to think about the shirts that you like the most and get rid of the ones you don't until you are comfortable with the number of shirts you have. You decide that number by taking your life circumstances into account.
posted by soelo at 9:26 AM on January 22 [14 favorites]


Marie Kondo conveniently neglected to mention being careful about weight limits for whatever surface you decide to stack your books on.

And so the true heart of the conspiracy is discovered. And it turns out that KonMari is linked to Scandanavian minimalism after all, because her whole existence is just a plot to get people to buy shit from Ikea! Put away the pinboard and red twine, we solved it!
posted by tobascodagama at 9:27 AM on January 22 [11 favorites]


A couple years ago, my grandma had to move to assisted living, and I moved into her apartment. I had to clean it out and move my stuff in. My grandma has always had sophisticated taste and many of the things she accumulated over the course of her 90+ years are very nice. Too nice to get rid of easily, just based on their usefulness and beauty. And it was very difficult emotionally to weed through her things and make room for my own.

There were certain kinds of "clutter" that I associated so strongly with her that I had to keep it even though I also had to move it somewhere else in order to make room for myself to live. The most emotional collection for me to go through was my grandma's enormous and beloved yarn stash. The yarns were mostly organized into bundles purchased for specific projects, with notes and gauges and patterns all attached, or organized carefully by color. I finally just put that whole stash in storage, although it fills the apartment's entire storage unit. I do crafts (which she helped me learn) and I'm slowly trying to go through the yarn and using it to make things. That seems like the best way to honor it and her. Anyway, the yarn doesn't spark joy per se -- in fact, it makes me grieve to see it -- but it is meaningful to me and to my mom and that's enough reason to keep it.

It's been a real process making the apartment my own. Every time I change it, even to add my own things, I feel weird, because every time I make the apartment more mine I make it less hers.

Even still, it's been easier to ask myself what I want to keep of my grandma's things rather than what I want to get rid of.
posted by rue72 at 9:30 AM on January 22 [21 favorites]


This doesn't mean, however, that you should just dump anything and everything. Far from it. [...] If you are confident that something brings you joy, keep it, [...] Even if it isn't perfect, no matter how mundane it might be

That's from the preface of Spark Joy. Nowt to do with chucking everything out, certainly nothing that you don't want to.
posted by threetwentytwo at 9:31 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


It's kind of all of a piece, though, isn't it? There's this trend around minimalist design, hygge, KonMari, instagram lifestyle, self-care, slow or simple living, Kinfolk, etc. and it all ends up washing over you after a while.

I think my observation here would be that except for the social media that provides a stage for everyone to perform this on, the fundamental notions of minimalist design, decluttering, simple living, etc. are nothing new at all. Virginia Nicholson's Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939 describes the way the "minimalist decor" took hold among a certain set of early 20th century educated, largely middle-class people as a reaction to the perceived clutter of their Victorian parents. And even earlier than that William Morris is telling his readers to have nothing in their houses that they do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful, which is Willy straight up asking his readers if their things spark joy. What seems apparent is how philosophies of minimalist decor have pretty much paralleled economies of mass production almost since the beginning of Western industrial capitalism.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:35 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


A couple of thoughts on savings through repair, but tl;dr: space isn't free.

I tend not to have a whole stable of broken things that I'm saving for parts to repair other broken things with, with the exception of bike parts. Which I really do need to pare down a bit, since there are only so many probably-still-some-wear-left bicycle tires that two people living in a small space need. I will be taking them to the local bicycle co-op, which is, not coincidentally, the same place I go for bike parts and tools I can't afford or don't want to store myself. Let someone else use them now, while they need them, and I'll be able to do the same when I do.

As for clothing I don't want to wear but might want to use for patches or craft projects: I'm now storing those together with scrap fabric (or even as scrap fabric, discarding the parts that aren't going to be usable to fix something else) rather than with clothes I'm actually using. Digging through a bunch of stuff I can't or won't wear to get to the things I like makes getting dressed in the morning suck, and fixing that problem doesn't have to cost anything. And there are limits to how much scrap fabric is reasonable to keep when the increased cost of a larger living space would more than cover a trip to the thrift store to pick up stuff for projects as needed. Hell, it'd even cover the cost of new from Joann or the fancy fabric stores. Space for storage ain't cheap.
posted by asperity at 9:35 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


Re: the boxes - one of her shows is two women who just got married and have trouble with their separate items living in the same bathroom drawer. She shows them how to divide the drawer with boxes so they can each access their stuff. They both said they will never throw away a box again.
posted by soelo at 9:35 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


The reaction to her process is one of the reasons why I generally avoid book-culture conversations. The preciousness people have about the quantity of books they read or own or rent from the library is a type of fetishism that really annoys me, probably because I see so much of it in my own personality.
posted by Think_Long at 9:38 AM on January 22 [15 favorites]


Everybody knows that freedom from ornament is a sign of spiritual strength.

^^ this is a facetious humor joke
posted by salt grass at 9:40 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


that's just facebook meme buddhist humour-grade post.
posted by cendawanita at 9:42 AM on January 22


I just cannot understand the frothing hate.

Marie Kondo has buzz and blogs need to generate content. That's literally it. I doubt that 95% of the anti-Kondo thinkpieces were actually written by people who have strong feelings about Marie Kondo.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:50 AM on January 22 [10 favorites]


Also, it was very obvious when she gets to the part about putting away each of your toiletries after you shower (i.e. you get your shampoo out of a cabinet for each shower, rather than leaving it in the stall), that this was going to be a "take what you like and leave the rest" kind of thing. Also, nobody's forcing you to do anything.

I see what you did there...
posted by phatkitten at 9:54 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Adolf Loos jokes will always spark joy.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:54 AM on January 22


I am a pack rat. I come from a long line of pack rats, people who like auctions and thrift stores, and crouton-petters. However, I realized recently, through books like Marie Kondo’s and others, that I don’t want to leave my STUFF for other people to deal with when I’m gone. My house is cluttered. It is overwhelming. I had a meltdown when I donated 20 bags (they were new books; they were MY books! I wanted to go back so bad and rescue them from the donation box!), but I got over it because I knew deep down that I’d never read them all. If I wanted to, I could check them out from the library or get them for my Kindle. I am slowly decluttering other stuff, like yarn and craft supplies. I see my dad increase his collections, now that he is in his 70s and retired. I dread dealing with his stuff someday on top of my stuff, so I am trying to minimize what I have now. I don’t understand the backlash against Kondo; haters gonna hate, I guess.

It’s not that “does an item bring joy” for me, because that is not why I hoard stuff. It was a revelation to thank an item and then donate it. I read all the time about people who have closets of clothes they will never wear, and yarn stashes beyond life expectancy. I suppose I worry that I won’t have enough, but there is enough out there that if I want something again, I can usually find it. For me, it’s not about the minimalism; it’s about not leaving a hoard for others to deal with. (I do understand the reason some people keep stuff, as described above, because they can’t afford to replace stuff, but my personal problem is with stuff I don’t need.)
posted by cass at 9:55 AM on January 22 [17 favorites]


I understand not really digging the weird cultish aspects of The Kondo Method, but the level of vitriol that comes with the pushback from some places raises some questions for me. Like, would you be talking this way if Nick Offerman said it, dude? Because he has said very similar things.
posted by East14thTaco at 9:57 AM on January 22 [26 favorites]


So, we've been dealing with a moth infestation for years. We lost a silk rug, the feathered hat I wore when we got married, my mom's mink, and many many wool t-shirts, sweaters and long underwear. It's been awful. For two solid years, every bit of textile we owned--save a small rotation of clothing made primarily of synthetics--was in moth balls, cold storage or vacuum-sealed. Each season when the grubs turn to moths, the traps were over-run with moths. Each season when the grubs don't, we'd find them clinging to the cat tree. For a few more years, we started discarding textiles--towels, sheets, table linen we never used. And started rotating our clothes each season, keeping more out of storage during the winter, going through a long process with the change of each season to swap weather-appropriate clothing around.

This year, I'm just going through all the bags and trunks and discarding or keeping. Last night, I wore a beautiful grey sweater I have not seen in five years, but which I have thought of, at least once a month for all those five years. This weekend, I put into the Leave-The-House-Forever bag two dresses, three skirts and two t-shirts which have been in my closet (never in storage) for two years which I have not once worn, even at moments when I had only five outfits to choose from in the closet.

I don't recommend living like this. But it really helped contextualize the difference between that grey sweater and those dozen articles of clothing. I fantasize about just throwing the remaining unsorted bags and trunks at my local charity shop without sorting them. But I know that in each bag, each trunk, is something just like that grey sweater. Even though it's already lost to me--I have no idea what's in which of the remaining unsorted storage--I don't want to lose the things I miss which are in those boxes. So I'm stuck sorting them, and then restoring them, one bag at a time. In between all the other chores, obligations, social events, hobbies and day jobs I've got going on.

Of course, this is a Not Really a Problem Problem. But it's a space where the things I have are a burden and where the lack of access to the things i have is also a burden.
posted by crush at 10:01 AM on January 22 [14 favorites]


philip-random, A) Kondo didn't write the linked article, it's a parody, and B) your response is, like, a pitch-perfect example of what salt grass was talking about in terms of the "aspirations, anxieties, and maybe magical thinking? that educated middle class folks have around books".

I'm aware Kondo didn't write the article, though I wasn't at first (before I double-checked), hence a "her" when I intended "the" ... but I guess we're not supposed to plead our intentions anymore, are we? As for alleged magical thinking, that just feels dismissive. I mean, do only educated middle class people get transported by the written word? Is that a thing now? It feels like an awfully narrow thing if it is.

It's kind of all of a piece, though, isn't it?

It's not, though? You mentioned like half a dozen unrelated things with completely different cultural origins.


The "piece" isn't where these tendencies have come from, it's where they're landing, the culture that's absorbing them, fumbling them all into one sort of bland (to my eyes anyway) thing. Give me clutter, please. Just make sure you vacuum every now and then.
posted by philip-random at 10:02 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I just had a brief flash of what the world would look like if one of her categories was "guns".
posted by All Out of Lulz at 10:03 AM on January 22 [11 favorites]


Are you keeping it because it makes you happy, or because you feel guilty or shameful or fearful about it? It’s useful — and can be surprisingly hard — to tell the difference.

Where does "inherent laziness" fit into this scenario?
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:05 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


just cannot understand the frothing hate.

My theory is this one hits this sweet spot where the "same types" of people have opposite instincts on what counts as a "virtuous" lifestyle. It's this really minor background opinion so people never talked about and now it's like "wait, you think you're better than me because you have fewer books?!" vs. "I can't believe I'm being flagged as a trendy consumer because I have relatively few things."

Anyway, I'm from the "consumerism and planned obsolescence is bad" upbringing that means you never throw anything away. I have hand-me-down tools that would fit in fastening things I've never even seen. But maybe someone I know has them and will want to borrow them? Or something? Not to mention broken stuff maybe I'll fix one day? The little bit I've heard of Kondo's approach (mostly from Hodgman podcasts) sounds helpful.

the bizarre hate for e-readers

Is there much of that left? I know some people like physical books but I've never felt judged for being a (relatively late) e-reader adoptee.
posted by mark k at 10:07 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


RE: utilitarian items and sparking joy

A hammer or other household tools doesn't spark joy in and of itself, but I do find joy in being able to to locate the tool that I need to fix or update in my house. I have a container of 200+ zip ties that has been with me for over 15 years now, and it's kind of a silly-happiness that I know I can pull out the right size of zip tie when we're putting up Christmas decorations, or if I need a quick piece of plastic boning for a craft. I know where the container is, and can go get it when we need it. I certainly feel a lot more joy in that than the broken hot pot I've kept for sentimental reasons.

We do have a ton of clutter and "what if?" stuff and kids toys all around the house, but I can see value in her framework of going through and getting rid of stuff. For me though, it's almost circular- I'd have more energy if we weren't dealing with all the stuff, but I need the emotional energy to go through it.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 10:10 AM on January 22 [10 favorites]


Just make sure you vacuum every now and then.

After four years the dirt doesn't get any worse.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:10 AM on January 22 [12 favorites]


Guys, I'm getting a little weirded out by the number of people here arguing strongly against the Things They Imagine Marie Kondo Is Probably Saying.
posted by kyrademon at 10:13 AM on January 22 [80 favorites]


Just got off the phone with my hoarding (sorry, collecting behaviours) dad. He is dying slowly of congestive hearth failure and once again expressed his anguish about all the cars he owns that he can't drive and wants to get rid of. Only I know he does not actually want to get rid of those cars because I offer to help him every visit and every visit he turns me down.

This entire thread is a great illustration of how instinctive it is for each of us to view any given topic from our own perspective and our own perspective alone. It has been pointed out several times that Marie Kondo does not want you to get rid of stuff you like. If clutter works for you, she is fine with that. But some folks apparently still think she hates them for their clutter.

I am a borderline hoarder who has worked very hard to shed a lot of stuff. If you are someone who finds it easy to limit your belongings, excellent! I am not like you. I do not think like you, and often, I do not act like you. I am not a rare and unique individual in that regard, however. In the United States, people with clutter appear to outnumber people without clutter.

Several years back, UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives of Families did a study of 32 dual-income, middle-class families. As part of that study, the group initially attempted to record all of the personal possessions owned by each family. That goal was quickly abandoned because there was not enough people available to document all those objects. The study did document a lot of other facts, however. For example, "the researchers found that 'cars have been banished from 75 percent of garages to make way for rejected furniture and cascading bins and boxes of mostly forgotten household goods.' "

Honestly, I think the degree of one's attraction to stuff and whether one lives in an orderly fashion or not is dependent on many factors. One thing is clear: It was pretty much impossible for people to own too much before the Industrial Revolution. There was not a huge supply of things to buy, homes did not have closets, people did not have enough money to buy multiples of anything.

For some of us (just some of us; I am not shaming anyone), acquiring objects is not unlike overeating. It is really easy for people with disposable income in prosperous nations to get more calories than their bodies need because there are places open that will sell you food 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. That is a recent thing. (Also, not the only reason people's bodies vary, yadda yadda.)

The ability to go to a 24-hour Walmart or CVS drugstore or other place (or Amazon online) and buy something is also a recent thing. Overeating was not an issue for our ancestors, and clutter was not an issue for our ancestors. For me, neither issue is about morality. I am a wonderful person, but I did NOT develop a satiety point for stuff as I was growing up. Research suggests that hoarding is not actually related to poverty but I did grow up poor and I do believe that has contributed to my just-in-case attitude about possessions.

Also, stuff is too cheap now. Literally too cheap. The real cost of plastic shit manufactured overseas and sold in places like Walmart (in terms of environmental pollution, climate change, etc.) is not factored in to the price and it is a part of the consumption that is killing us. Yet the allure of shopping therapy, as well as the fallout, is real. So there are reasons why someone like Marie Kondo would be popular. If you want to hate on her, be my guest. But why bother?

Like showering, different folks do the possessions thing differently. Whether maximalists or minimalists or somewhere in between, go in peace gentle readers.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:16 AM on January 22 [27 favorites]


Regarding the "twee" ritual of thanking an object...Previously, on Metafilter: On Japanese Farewell Ceremonies for Things
posted by magstheaxe at 10:20 AM on January 22 [14 favorites]


Kondo's advice is designed to (and often does) help a certain subset of people who are overwhelmed by clutter. If that's you, great. If that's not you, also great, but why does it make you angry?
posted by rocket88 at 10:21 AM on January 22 [23 favorites]


The "piece" isn't where these tendencies have come from, it's where they're landing, the culture that's absorbing them, fumbling them all into one sort of bland (to my eyes anyway) thing. Give me clutter, please. Just make sure you vacuum every now and then.
philip-random

The problem is you don't appear to actually know what Kondo has said, or at least in your comments here are bizarrely trying to argue against what you think she said while being entirely in agreement with her.

This is the crux of where I figure you're most wrong. That the books to get rid of are the ones I haven't already read as opposed to the ones that I know are treasures indeed. I don't get rid of the treasures, but the majority are currently in boxes (waiting for that hoped for time that I finally have enough shelving to give them their deserved place -- it's a long story). Why? Because I've already them. The limited shelf space I have is reserved for A. stuff I haven't yet read, that I like to keep in plain sight because, as I suggested earlier, they inspire me, give me hope, and B. a dozen or so reference options.
philip-random

Like, this is literally exactly what Kondo advises with regard to books or possessions in general. The whole point of this thread is that "GET RID OF EVERYTHING BUT ESPECIALLY BURN ALL YOUR BOOKS" is a bizarre, utterly wrong caricature of her viewpoint.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:26 AM on January 22 [21 favorites]


I'm still unclear on who, exactly, is angry.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:26 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


I really don't get the "and what about TOOLS lol" thing, because if I were to actually bother Kondoing my place, it would be awesome to go through my tools and get rid of all the ones that don't work very well or are uncomfortable to use - the ones where I realize I need to use them and think "ugh" and then muddle through with an inferior piece of equipment.

My drill sparks joy, in the sense that I know I can rely on it to do whatever I need it to do, and as a result I use it constantly, even when a screwdriver would be adequate. My magnetic studfinder does not spark joy, in the sense that it sucks, and if I had just gone ahead and replaced it with something better when I first realized that fact, I would have a lot more heavy shit attached to my walls right now.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:27 AM on January 22 [19 favorites]


I have been angry since 2016
posted by salt grass at 10:30 AM on January 22 [12 favorites]


I'm always angry.
posted by East14thTaco at 10:31 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


I am really surprised by how much emotion there is about this on any side.

I mean, it's a millennial-aged, non-white, and non-American woman that is providing help and advice on dealing with both personal living space and physical objects that people live and interact with at least 2/3 of their lives, y'know?
posted by FJT at 10:36 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


Some of you are being kind of gross?

Marie Kondo wrote a book about her own experiences and practices in Japanese, for a Japanese audience, in a Japanese context. It was published in 2011. It wasn't translated into English and published in English until 2014.

When you criticize her word choices, guess what: her book is a translation.

When you complain about the "woo-woo", guess what, a lot of people have talked about the original cultural context and her own background in Shinto practices informing her work and approach. When you roll your eyes at her "woo" and pretend it was invented by American corporations to sell you things, you are actually being kind of shitty about a non-Western worldview and making assumptions that are not based in fact.

When you say you rail against illnesses of American capitalism by saying Marie Kondo's methods are dumb or bad but actually you haven't read the book or watched the show but you see people talking about it on Instagram and it annoys you, maybe you need to close the thread. Many of the things people are most angry about are things she never said and never told anyone to do.

The whole discussion is the worst sort of hot-takery with zero information or understanding, which is, hilariously, similar to the mindlessness Kondo is trying to combat.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:36 AM on January 22 [113 favorites]


Marie Kondo wants you to be happy above all. That's it. I spent awhile thinking about what her message was and that's it. She is very honest about her foibles, how she's grown and what makes HER happy. She shared that vision with people, and it resonated. She's not clickbaiting 10 HOT TIPS TO FIX YOUR LOFT AND LIFE which I think some people have an impression of... somehow.

So if you think Marie Kondo would look at your space, listen to you say "This makes me happy. This space sparks joy inside me." and tell you to change a god damn thing... no. No.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:44 AM on January 22 [17 favorites]


This isn't in the book, but thanking your items before letting them go is a way of being kind to yourself, IMO. Everything you're discarding now is something you chose to add to your life in the past. Don't be too harsh on yourself.

(IIRC there's an anecdote in the book about a woman throwing things into the discard pile really viciously, and Kondo stops her)
posted by airmail at 10:47 AM on January 22 [26 favorites]


I've never regretted expressing gratitude whether it's to a person, animal or object. I've regretted a lot of other emotions!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:50 AM on January 22 [12 favorites]


FWIW, Jonah Ven, Twitter thread:

"Tl;dr: Marie Kondo and her books/show are NOT ABOUT MINIMALISM. Memes and criticisms of it are lowkey inherently racist due to ignorance of Asian, specifically Japanese culture and influences. We need to do better if we’re going to claim racial/etc. progressivism. 20/20"
posted by pemberkins at 10:54 AM on January 22 [16 favorites]


I am really surprised by how much emotion there is about this on any side.

Social media now amounts to all of humanity screaming in infinite rage, forever. Metafilter of course does better, even if the discussion often amounts to looking on in horror.
posted by MillMan at 11:17 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


The "piece" isn't where these tendencies have come from, it's where they're landing, the culture that's absorbing them, fumbling them all into one sort of bland (to my eyes anyway) thing.

Right, this is what I was getting at. Combined with this all landing during a time of housing crises, millenial underemployment, etc. suggests its a phenomenon that might be related to late capitalist economic trends. It's just something I've been noticing for a few years, and the renewed interest in Kondo is just more confirmation.

Other recent popular books in this lifestyle genre among Western readers - it tends to rove around, currently on a serious Scandinavian kick but also still finding plenty of time for a (vaguely orientalist?) fascination with Japanese spirituality:
-The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning
-Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life
-The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life
-Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life
-Shinrin Yoku: The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing

I'd add that there's usually an element of escapism floating around in this mix, too. The world and news got confusing and grim over the past few years, you can't blame anyone for retreating into this stuff. And if it helps anyone or strikes a chord, that's great. I personally wonder if the same people are buying all of these books, and how soon they'll end up in the clearance bins, and whether people who read them have managed to find the peace and balance they're looking for, but I wish them well and admit it's not my cup of tea.

To be clear, I'm not criticizing any particular author or book here, but rather pointing out a trend among Western audiences. To criticize the Western trend is not the same as being shitty about non-Western worldviews. And also, I don't think anyone is doing this here, but holding up Kondo's philosophy as being above criticism because it's Shinto-informed might have some problems of its own.

BTW, the lawyering around "KonMari is not minimalism" and "it's about keeping stuff, not getting rid of stuff" is odd to me. Both statements are true, but you have to be pretty bought-in already to think these are crucial distinctions for this discussion. "Should I keep this?" is not such a huge difference from "should I get rid of this?" in practical terms, even if they psychologically hit you in different ways.

Also odd are suggestions that if you haven't read her book, you shouldn't comment - my personal reading philosophy revolves around only reading books that are likely to genuinely spark joy. Don't just declutter your bookshelves, declutter your reading lists (and Netflix queues) too! Or else I suppose I have to read all those books I listed - there's Q1 of 2019 sorted!

I'm still unclear on who, exactly, is angry

Same - I just find the phenomena and backlash / counter-backlash / etc. mildly interesting. In any case, as the FPP piece goes out of its way to emphasize, she's extremely successful and influential, and I'm sure she can withstand the controversy. She's sold a boatload of books because of it.
posted by naju at 11:17 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


I'm always angry.

My anger sparks joy.
posted by Foosnark at 11:20 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


I had a thought when the book first came out: maybe this springs from people being more mobile than we used to be, and tangible items have outsized emotional weight because they represent our youth and possible roads not taken.

I grew up far away from where I live now: I "came east" for college and stayed, then worked, got married, had kids. It exasperates my wife that I hang on to things that she believes aren't valuable. But to me, because so many changes in my life happened in just a few years -- college, relocation, working life, left family & friends behind, etc., etc. -- it feels like there was a clean boundary between The Story Of Me, Part I and The Story Of Me, Part II. These "useless" things are the only tangible reminders I have to what feels like a whole different life, and so to discard those things feels like betrayal, or like repudiating the forces that shaped me.

Some things I threw out haunt me. (I should have kept that leather jacket!) Other things I don't remember, which is totally healthy.Now I've spontaneously thrown out stuff without my wife even asking. This lines up with me feeling more established or more adult -- like, The Story Of Me, Part II has now grown longer than Part I, and the first part can't be devalued because it's now safely in the past.

Does this make sense?
posted by wenestvedt at 11:22 AM on January 22 [11 favorites]


Yeah I think a lot of "criticism" of Kondo comes from people who think they know what she's on about, but are basically operating off of rumor/speculation/second-and-third-hand information, and have tossed her into a mental box alongside the "Four Hour Workweek" guy and a bunch of other "life hack" nonsense.

My understanding of her philosophy is that it's not nearly as prescriptivist as people seem to think it is. It only appears that way if you are only seeing it in very narrowly-defined contexts, but those contexts are critical.

Bear in mind that on the TV show, she's working with people who want her help because they believe they have a problem with owning too much stuff. If you do not think you have a problem where you own too much stuff, what she's doing on the show may not apply to you.

FWIW, I have been trying to "get rid of junky stuff" which is probably a step down from what she espouses; it's a more achievable goal in my life. I'm not ready or interested in going through everything that I own, but when I come across something that's obviously crappy or poorly built or otherwise not fit-for-purpose, I'm trying to get rid of it. (showbiz_liz's example of the crappy stud finder is a great example. Crappy tools are the worst especially when they prevent you from acquiring better tools that are a genuine pleasure to work with, or worse yet, stop you from embarking on or completing projects.)

But yeah, not getting mad at yourself for having acquired something junky is a big deal, at least to me. One of the reasons I've always been reluctant to get rid of stuff is because the process of getting rid of stuff is itself painful. For a long time, I saw every single item that I got rid of as a specific, personal failure—an literal object lesson that I had done something wrong. Not dragging yourself through the mud makes it easier to part with things that you rationally know you don't need anymore.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:23 AM on January 22 [26 favorites]


Reading Marie Kondo the first time was a profoundly sad thing to me as a person living in a tiny awful studio in Brooklyn, because (except maybe for books) I felt that I owned nothing that sparked joy but also, if I got rid of the things that didn't spark joy, I would just... not have clothes, or cups, or plates, or whatever. (In hindsight I was also kinda depressed?)

I actually like the show, but I do get occasional stabs of anger mixed with envy for the people who have the money to buy clothes they don't even wear. (Which is a bit nonsense - as if I didn't have hobbies I'd abandoned, and tastes that had changed!)
posted by Jeanne at 11:25 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


Marie Kondo's methods have escalated

I've watched the show. She is utterly incapable of escalating. She can't even reach the upper level of a two level shirt closet.
posted by srboisvert at 11:37 AM on January 22 [11 favorites]


I'm always angry.

My anger sparks joy.


I organize mine. I fold it up nice and tidy in containers so I can easily and quickly get to it when I need it. Swift access to organized anger has changed my life.
posted by srboisvert at 11:39 AM on January 22 [14 favorites]


Marie Kondo seems perfectly fine, I personally haven’t seen anything about her show that hits that button where I feel loathsome toward the person. It’s the Kinfolk-esque stuff (which I’ve ranted about on here more times than I’d like to admit) that bothers me, which I think maybe a lot of people in this thread are referencing without realizing it?
posted by gucci mane at 11:39 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Also odd are suggestions that if you haven't read her book, you shouldn't comment

I haven't seen anyone saying that. But if people who haven't read the book want to come get mad about philosophies from the book that do not actually exist within the book because they saw a fake meme about it, then that's pretty irritating.

If you come into a discussion about Moby Dick and your hot take is "I hated the part where Ahab and the Whale became best friends who ran a knitting shop together", then people who read the book are going to wonder why you are bothering to engage at all.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:41 AM on January 22 [27 favorites]


PUNCHING UP with Marie Kondo
ZONING OUT with Marie Kondo
PHONING IN with Marie Kondo
DOING CRIMES with Marie Kondo
posted by phooky at 11:41 AM on January 22 [22 favorites]


I've chafed a bit at the minimalism espoused by many of my friends, because I'm a huge homebody and I love walking through my home and seeing all the stuff I've chosen to surround me. But then my grandma died last year and I had to clean out her little 500 square foot senior apartment and even though she'd been "decluttering" for like three years prior to her death, holy shit was there ever a ton of random junk to get rid of. And I do mean random junk... manuals and attachments for appliances she'd given away years ago, knick-knacks she flat out hated but wouldn't get rid of because someone gave them to her as a gift and she didn't want to offend them (even though the giver in question never visited her home and Grandma actually hadn't spoken to them in years), a whole shelf of photo albums filled with multiple copies of the same photos or postcards bought on vacation in lieu of taking photographs, and so on. After hauling probably twenty carloads of stuff to thrift stores, I started seeing the value in having fewer belongings.

And then I decided to move across the country, a move I'll be undertaking this summer. For what it would cost to ship all of my belongings to the other side of this continent, I could just repurchase everything again. Twice. It just seems more sensible to move with only the things I truly cannot imagine life without, and looking at my belongings through the lens of "am I willing to pay money to keep owning this?" is making it so much easier to cull. Even the bookshelves, y'all. And I'm one of those people who loves to stockpile unread books for some distant time in the future when I'll have unending free time in which to read to my heart's content. I kept looking at my shelves this weekend, at all the unread books I've amassed in just the past 3 years of living in my current apartment, on top of the unread books I had prior to this move and which I paid movers to haul up here for me, and... I just can't anymore. I still love the books, I would like to believe that I'm going to read them all, but at this point they feel like anchors weighing me down. They do not add to my life at this time, even though I'm sure I would probably enjoy reading them. I just figure, if I've owned a book for more than a few years and I still haven't read it, it's time to add the title to the list of things I'll look for at the library and let my copy of the book go free.

Does getting rid of the books hurt? Eh, a little. But it's not the loss of the books themselves that stings so much as the loss of my vision of myself as a person who owns and might potentially have read those specific books, of what those books signify to people who enter my living space. It's an ego bruise. But that bruise heals very quickly, as I have learned in the past.

While I haven't read the books or watched the series, I know the basics of the KonMari method*, and simply asking myself if the thing I'm holding adds to my life in a positive way has been incredibly helpful. For example, decluttering my yarn stash using the KonMari method went like this: open huge Tupperware bin full of yarn I bought FOURTEEN YEARS AGO and have never made anything with. Remember how my life was when I bought the yarn, what I planned to make with the yarn when I bought it. Ask myself, truly, can I see myself using this yarn now? Am I keeping the yarn because of the sunk cost fallacy? Am I keeping the yarn because of the memories associated with the time period in which I bought the yarn? And the real kicker... do I really want to make room for this yarn in the carload of things I'll be taking with me on this move? Asking myself those questions and really taking them seriously is, I think, the heart of the method. I can't see what about that is making people react so negatively.

(*I hear her folding methods for clothing are, like, seriously great, can anyone weigh in on that?)
posted by palomar at 11:46 AM on January 22 [14 favorites]


For a long time, I saw every single item that I got rid of as a specific, personal failure—an literal object lesson that I had done something wrong.

She recommends thanking these items for showing you what you DON'T value. If you have a book you started but never finished, you would say, "Thank you for showing me I don't like this genre." or something like that. Still a life lesson but one that is a positive one instead of a negative one.

Her folding methods are super fun, yes. There's a demo of the shirt method in episode 1. It's hard! Having clothes vertical in your drawer as opposed to stacked on top of each other does make finding things easier and is much cleaner looking, actually.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:48 AM on January 22 [14 favorites]




I don't understand why no one wants to read my book and lifestyle blog about how to be unhappy by burning all your possessions including your home. I would totally read such a book. Just too. damn. happy.

I also don't understand why anyone would watch this show, for which I am clearly not the audience. But I was raised by people who grew up poor and rural during the depression, and also I don't really watch shows, so clearly not the target audience.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:51 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Oh, right, the other thing I keep seeing people claim Marie Kondo is telling everyone to do: throw shit away.

Y'ALL. Have you heard of thrift stores? They take donations of material goods that people don't want anymore and then they sell them for a price lower than what typical retail stores charge! Often, a portion of the profits go to some charitable organization, too!
posted by palomar at 11:58 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


BTW, the lawyering around "KonMari is not minimalism" and "it's about keeping stuff, not getting rid of stuff" is odd to me. Both statements are true, but you have to be pretty bought-in already to think these are crucial distinctions for this discussion.
naju

But they are crucial distinctions. She says there's no problem if you end up with a lot of stuff. Don't take my word for it, she's quoted saying that in this very thread. The explicitly stated goal of her method isn't to live as minimally as you can and get rid of everything that you can. It's not a promotion or lionizing of a minimalist lifestyle

Also odd are suggestions that if you haven't read her book, you shouldn't comment

No one has said that. But a lot of people, including in this thread, seem to be arguing against what they think Kondo espouses rather than what she actually does. Or, as Kadin2048 said above:

Yeah I think a lot of "criticism" of Kondo comes from people who think they know what she's on about, but are basically operating off of rumor/speculation/second-and-third-hand information, and have tossed her into a mental box alongside the "Four Hour Workweek" guy and a bunch of other "life hack" nonsense.
naju

Like, you confidently declare above that people trying to explain how what Kondo actually has said and written isn't about minimalism is just "lawyering", but you also admit to not really knowing what she's said or written. You're arguing against what you think she believes, then lump her in with some other things you believe to be similar (and which you apparently also haven't read).
posted by Sangermaine at 12:01 PM on January 22 [10 favorites]


"I hated the part where Ahab and the Whale became best friends who ran a knitting shop together",

I could never get rid of that book.
posted by asperity at 12:02 PM on January 22 [24 favorites]


I think there's an awful lot of conflation happening between (1) what people have actually said in this thread, and (2) what people are saying about Kondo on the broader internet.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:03 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


[A few comments deleted. Folks, if you don't know anything about Kondo, haven't read the book, haven't seen the show, then consider just not commenting in here?]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:04 PM on January 22 [34 favorites]


I’ve commented on MetaFilter before about how the KonMari method of tidying up failed to take hold in my home in delightfully ironic ways, but I have nothing against Marie Kondo’s methods. Not everything needs to work for everyone; her recommendations not working for me does not indicate a failing on her part, and if I turned on everyone who had somehow figured out a way to monetize being aspirational and non-threatening I would miss out on some of my favorite media.

My least popular opinion by a wide margin is that personal libraries are the ne plus ultra of bougie respectability conspicuous consumption. Every book I own is one that I have both read/used within the last eighteen months and expect to read/use again in the near future. Any book I haven’t read for longer than that is clutter and out it goes. Public libraries on the other hand are by themselves enough to entirely justify civilization.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 12:04 PM on January 22 [18 favorites]


The folding IS actually a damn revelation, especially if you want to pick out tshirts (things in a drawer: leggings, underpants, whatever) visually without digging through a stack.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:24 PM on January 22 [13 favorites]


no one wants to read my book and lifestyle blog about how to be unhappy by burning all your possessions including your home

You missed the tie-in -- couple days ago that would let you see the moon.
posted by clew at 12:30 PM on January 22


Totally. Like the book is actually full of pretty useful household tips that half the people griping about Kondo would probably totally find quite wise if they came from Lifehacker.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:32 PM on January 22 [10 favorites]


Oop on preview that was a response to Lyn Never - I did totally stand out in the windchill watching that beautiful fiery moon though, and it did sorta make me want to burn my things.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:37 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Owning more books than you are capable of reading in your lifetime without breaking some sort of basic causality principle is what makes us human, no?

FILES, in my case. Nomadics forces book-ditching ( sometimes in heart-breaking quantities) and jewel-case ditching. But my compensating optically-stored media now contain "more files than I can..." whatever. Carry? Yes.

Damn, even my -curated- "BURN THESE TODAY!!" folder is up to 20 Gigs. (Thanks a lot, 'broadband'.) "Hoarding?" you might ask. Well uh awm ... don't *think* so, my rationales seem sound. ( This is -curated digital preservation- people! )

No WAY am I as involved as those maniacs at https://www.reddit.com/r/DataHoarder/.
posted by Twang at 12:39 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


the bizarre hate for e-readers

Is there much of that left? I know some people like physical books but I've never felt judged for being a (relatively late) e-reader adoptee.


If there isn't, then all that's left of it apparently clusters around me. I've gotten "it isn't real", all the greatest hits. (to my face! when I spent the last n years of my life writing ebooks on the side because it made me happy! that did not feel good!)

"Don't yuck other people's yum" just flies out the window sometimes.

It's OK, I'll be over here going through a string of library borrows without ever having to encounter another living human. Just like I like it.
posted by cage and aquarium at 12:44 PM on January 22 [10 favorites]


""Tl;dr: Marie Kondo and her books/show are NOT ABOUT MINIMALISM. Memes and criticisms of it are lowkey inherently racist due to ignorance of Asian, specifically Japanese culture and influences. We need to do better if we’re going to claim racial/etc. progressivism. 20/20""

Yeah, that kind of bullshit is why I started thinking of some of the Kondo followers as cultists. I come from fandom, where for the last few years that game has been played, i.e. if people won't stop doing things you dislike, start calling those things inherently racist/sexist/terfy/abusive. Now, of course there are people in fandom who are all of those things, same as I am sure there are specific comments on Kondo that are racist. But when you start trying to pull the 'all criticism is inherently racist' game, fuck that.
posted by tavella at 12:48 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


And finally in conclusion, Einstein's desk. Not saying I'm a genius, but at least I'm trying.

Most of us who are decluttering (or at least decluttering-curious) would be over-the-top ecstatic if it were just limited to a desk.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:51 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


DOING CRIMES with Marie Kondo

There's a subset of the random memes going around about Marie Kondo that lean into this kind of thing real hard: Marie Kondo not as polite woman who just wants you to feel happier in your space, but as capricious and nihilistic purveyor of folding techniques, aka someone you could totally do crimes with. (I guess while also confessing your love to her translator or whatever.)

Back on topic: I haven't had a ton of exposure to the primary source material, but the big question I have as someone who's really into the whole decluttering thing intellectually but obviously not in practice: once you make the decision to get rid of stuff, what do you do with it? I find the biggest thing that stops me is not identifying what I want to get rid of, but actually getting rid of it in a way I can live with.

Like, I have old laptops I don't need, but technically still work. Are they too slow to donate to any charity? Should I consider them e-waste? These jeans that have one hole in them in the thigh, should I feel bad for not taking the time to patch them? And if we decide that I shouldn't, does that mean I should throw perfectly good fabric away? Do I now have to consider which disposal method also sparks joy, or is it inevitable that this becomes yet another low-level source of stress in my life?

Actually, can we get back to the Marie Kondo that does crimes with us? That sounds way more fun.
posted by chrominance at 12:56 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


To be fair, it's very easy to see how at least some of the criticism is rooted in racism... for example, when I see people talking about how stupid it is to be concerned with whether an item "sparks joy", and hurf durf am I supposed to get rid of my spatulas because they don't spark joy, I sigh in dismay, because the whole "sparks joy" thing stems from a less than ideal translation of the word "tokimeki", which sort of loosely translated means "excitement" or "heartbeat" according to the internet. So... sounds like she applies a concept that can't really be summed up with "sparks joy", but that's what we get in the English translation, and when I see people flipping out about that aspect of the method, I wonder if they even realize that language isn't a plug-and-play sort of enterprise, and that translations don't capture every nuance. That feels at least somewhat rooted in racism to me, how about you?

As for the part about thanking the objects before you get them out of your home, I see a lot of people mocking that as twee and stupid, but it comes directly from Kondo's time as a Shinto shrine attendant. I'm going to stick with the core belief that mocking things we don't understand from non-white culture is, in fact, inherently racist.
posted by palomar at 12:57 PM on January 22 [40 favorites]


once you make the decision to get rid of stuff, what do you do with it?

Have a yard sale.
Donate it to a thrift store.
For large items like furniture, I make an appointment with the Salvation Army and they send a truck and a couple of dudes to my home and those dudes take the stuff away.
posted by palomar at 1:00 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


My family moved over the summer and we ended up unpacking the stuff we needed right at that moment and left the rest in boxes in the basement and garage. For the most part the stuff in the basement has stayed there, the exceptions being my tools which get used and then go back down, our winter clothes boxes, and our seasonal decorations. The plan was to go through a couple of boxes each week and either unpack them or get rid of them but that hasn't happened so I'm hoping over the summer we'll go down and just get rid of everything we haven't touched over the last year.

The big possession millstone around my neck are my dad's boxes of slides. He died 20 years ago and they've followed us on moves since then and nothing's been done with them. I really need to get them scanned and shared with my mom and his friends because they're not getting younger either and once they're gone any hope of context for them goes as well.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:03 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


The whole discussion is the worst sort of hot-takery with zero information or understanding, which is, hilariously, similar to the mindlessness Kondo is trying to combat.

Its says a lot that one of the hot takes here included "And here's THE authority on Japanese" neoliberal "emotional capitalism" self-help in Japan" *gives the name of a white male European*

And then followed that up with a complaint that people are calling the critics racists and misogynist.

It is to laugh.
posted by happyroach at 1:05 PM on January 22 [13 favorites]


I have two thoughts on the cultural-practice-books, one, that I have friends with families from all the cultures mentioned and it's been fun to hear how their parents or grandparents variously like the books but think they're obvious, or don't recognize them as something from the old country, or possibly think of them as what they came to Seattle to get away from.

And, two, of course the psychology and morality of stuff and tools and tidying has European/AnglophoneUS precedents. Women in novels from Maria Edgeworth to Dorothy Richardson (previously) pause to tidy their box, workbox, or drawer. They do this to be materially prepared for the future, to make plans, to remember past emotions, to have an excuse to be alone. Note that people feel they need to spend maintenance time tidying when they own no more than fits in one box or drawer, which they can probably carry. Separately, my Yankee animist grandfather probably talked to his tools in his head (he kind of talked to a lot of people in his head, instead of out loud) and definitely got joy from them and was very thrifty but not a minimalist. We have a can of oiled cut nails he kept because he remembered people who remembered burning the barn down to get the nails back, when you moved.
posted by clew at 1:07 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


any portmanteau in a storm, Scan My Photos is what you need. They come highly recommended from multiple friends and the pricing seems reasonable.
posted by palomar at 1:08 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


The folding IS actually a damn revelation, especially if you want to pick out tshirts (things in a drawer: leggings, underpants, whatever) visually without digging through a stack.

Yeah, all I know of Kondo is the folding technique and the „spark of joy“ thing that I read about in an article. Both of them were extremely useful to me!
posted by Omnomnom at 1:12 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Like, I have old laptops I don't need, but technically still work. Are they too slow to donate to any charity? Should I consider them e-waste?

I would consider them e-waste, yes. Exercise whatever you feel is the appropriate amount of paranoia as far as destroying data on the drives (if all else fails, put on safety glasses and grab a hammer), then thank them and drive them to your city's e-waste disposal site.

The fabric I don't have a pat answer for, unfortunately. If you have friends who would actually use the stuff as scrap material for a project, then you can ask them if they want it. But if it's so damage that it would probably get rejected if you dropped it in a donation bin or whatever, then tossing it in the trash is probably the best option. But it's not an option that I like, considering how much of the microplastics problem can be traced to clothing fibers. However! It's not your personal responsibility to keep things in your house until we fix society's failure to address industrial externalities.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:14 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


also, any portmanteau in a storm, my dad and stepmother recently did this with his dad's photos and surviving friends and relations and it was delightful listening to them remember things. It never happened with my grandparents on the other side and there are a lot of amazing lost stories in those photos.
posted by clew at 1:17 PM on January 22


But if it's so damage that it would probably get rejected if you dropped it in a donation bin or whatever, then tossing it in the trash is probably the best option.

Many thrift stores have relationships with textile recyclers, and will sell damaged donated clothing to them in bulk. Here's a Goodwill page discussing this: Torn or stained apparel, linens, single shoes, gloves and socks were once considered garbage. Goodwill accepts ALL textile donations, in any condition (except wet or contaminated with hazardous materials) so they can be re-used or recycled into new products.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:17 PM on January 22 [7 favorites]


It's not your personal responsibility to keep things in your house until we fix society's failure to address industrial externalities.

Oh, now that is helpful! That is where I get stuck when I go to declutter because throwing things away makes me sad and uncomfortable. But then I think that there's not much difference between the item sitting in my house gathering dust and sitting in a landfill, if that's going to be the ending for that item one day anyway.
posted by twilightlost at 1:17 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


"For sale. Baby shoes. Never sparked joy."
posted by aurelian at 1:19 PM on January 22 [16 favorites]


Y'ALL. Have you heard of thrift stores? They take donations of material goods that people don't want anymore and then they sell them for a price lower than what typical retail stores charge! Often, a portion of the profits go to some charitable organization, too!

According to one of my friends, a prof at a business school & expert in global supply chain, most of the clothing you donate gets shipped off to Africa to undercut their textile economy and impede sustainable development. No one wins! Yay!
posted by monkihed at 1:22 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


clew, that reminds me also of Amelie's mother:

She likes the outfits of the ice-skaters on TV

to shine the flooring.

to empty her handbag

clean it thoroughly,

and, finally, putting everything away carefully.

posted by fiercecupcake at 1:22 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


In her book she relates how she spent years organizing stuff, starting as a kid, and realized over time that it wasn’t about organizing - it was about valuing what you have.

She does not tell anyone to get rid of all of their books or clothes or shoes.

She even talks about how she loves to shop.

She does often mention the rather small by American standards typical size of Japanese homes. This seems to be a lot of impetus for her desire to not have storage overflowing and stuffed.

I think she wants people who are interested to take her advice and if not to just go on their merry way.

Her goal is for you to live in a place that brings you comfort and joy. If it means you have 200 books that you absolutely cherish, fine. Then put them in a shelf and appreciate them, don’t shove them in boxes under the basement stairs.

The thing that got me to her side was her anecdote about a woman who had several beautiful period or cosplay outfits. The woman said “oh I guess you’ll say I should bin these since I don’t go to these events anymore.” Mari asked her if she still loved them. The woman said she did. So Mari suggested that rather than leaving them sad and unused, to wear them around the house sometimes. The lady gets to wear her fun outfits that bring her joy when previously both she and the outfits were sad about the outfits not being used.

She wants you to enjoy the things you have. Not get rid of your most precious ren faire dress for some minimilaist nonsense.
posted by sio42 at 1:28 PM on January 22 [33 favorites]


Interesting new take on a different cultural expert's advice on this topic: "Socrates Wants You to Tidy Up, Too."
posted by PhineasGage at 1:28 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Unfuck your Habitat had a nice response to Kondo's popularity; mostly:
Do I think the KonMari method is bad or wrong? Of course not. I think everyone should use what speaks to them and what is useful and applicable in their own lives. It’s a vastly different approach than mine, which is good, because people are complex, and what works for one won’t necessarily work for another. I think it’s great that her method works for so many people and has inspired so many to try to get their homes and messes under control. I want everyone to have a home they’re comfortable and happy in, no matter what journey they take to achieve that.
I check out UFYH every so often for a little lift because everyone's corner looks nice when they've done it to their satisfaction, even when there's nothing fancy or minimalist or color-coordinated at all.
posted by clew at 1:31 PM on January 22 [12 favorites]


Its says a lot that one of the hot takes here included "And here's THE authority on Japanese" neoliberal "emotional capitalism" self-help in Japan" *gives the name of a white male European*

And then followed that up with a complaint that people are calling the critics racists and misogynist.

It is to laugh.


literally don't see a problem with sharing excerpts from a (rather good) book I read that's informed some of my thoughts about this stuff! if you have criticisms of the author or those excerpts other than "he has a white name" please go for it
posted by naju at 1:31 PM on January 22


According to one of my friends, a prof at a business school & expert in global supply chain, most of the clothing you donate gets shipped off to Africa to undercut their textile economy and impede sustainable development. No one wins! Yay!

However, "material goods" doesn't specifically apply to things made of material. Books? Furniture? Kitchen implements, cookware, dishes, glasses, silverware? Knick-knacks? Lamps? Electronics? Crafting supplies? Thrift stores take all of those things, and more! As for clothing, what I've been told by thrift store workers is that they put the nicest looking clothing out on the sales floor -- if it's stained, torn up, threadbare, or otherwise unwearable, they can't sell it, and off to the bulk bins or the reclamation businesses it goes.

In short, thrift stores are not conscience-easing garbage drop off centers. Use common sense when making donations, folks.
posted by palomar at 1:33 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Like, I have old laptops I don't need, but technically still work. Are they too slow to donate to any charity? Should I consider them e-waste?

I think the thing for me is...they are waste if they're sitting in your closet, because they are just getting older all the time and one day, if you don't find them a home now, someone else will trash them. Keeping them creates the illusion that they are going to be used more than if you donated them to the city e-waste-diversion program at Environment Day, but for the majority of The Things...it is just an illusion.

I'm using this as an example of why, as the daughter of hoarders, I will never tire of people who help us all reconceptualize our Stuff. I think you hear about it from people with minimalist living rooms posting on Instagram their hipster coolness, but for me, Clutter's Last Stand was life-changing. With Kondo I love that you gather all your scissors together first.

When my son was born, I was 35. My mother brought out all these crazy plastic pants that covered fabric diapers that crumbled when you touched them. She has gifted my kids with free colouring books from 1982 that also crumbled. But she kept all those things convinced that one day, they'd be useful. Out of the 500 things she saved, we have enjoyed a few. But for thirty years they sat in her attic getting out of date, unused, being heated in the winter and cooled in the summer, sparking no joy but "maybe useful someday."
posted by warriorqueen at 1:33 PM on January 22 [26 favorites]


And this...

According to one of my friends, a prof at a business school & expert in global supply chain, most of the clothing you donate gets shipped off to Africa to undercut their textile economy and impede sustainable development. No one wins! Yay!

The clothing I donate ends up on the rack that week and my friend buys it...in at least one case.

But all that is a reason not to buy in the first place, really. Which for me actually does tie into decluttering..when my house is cluttered I generally buy more stuff, because I'm not at peace and I can't find things to go with my things. When it's all tidy and has homes and isn't overwhelming, I tend to use what I have. It's so weird.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:37 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


She wants you to enjoy the things you have.

This reminds me of a semi-related concept that has vastly improved my life since I heard about it - namely, the idea that you should USE your best stuff instead of saving it for Very Special Occasions. I used to fall into the trap of stashing away fancy soaps and nice serving bowls and small jars of expensive spices, etc, and then NEVER using them because I forgot I had them/was afraid of breaking them/didn't think the occasion merited them. Rejecting that attitude meant that I got to enjoy those nice things every day instead of once every 6-8 months, and then decide whether they were worth replacing when I ran out of or broke the original thing.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:37 PM on January 22 [31 favorites]


A bit related to your point, showbiz_liz, I collect vintage glass objects but was reluctant to put them on my mantle when I moved into a new place in earthquake country, figuring that when a temblor came they'd all be smashed. So they sat wrapped up and packed in boxes in my closet, waiting for me to buy a safer display case or move to a different location. I finally realized if I put them up on display, I'd at least have however many hours/days/months of enjoyment before they were destroyed by mother nature. By now years have gone by and we still haven't had a big quake...
posted by PhineasGage at 1:43 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


Museum putty!
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:47 PM on January 22 [11 favorites]


Let me tell you, nothing sharpens your priorities more than asking yourself whether this particular ball of yarn/sweater/suit jacket is worth the risk of transporting clothes moths to your new home. As a destashing method, I highly recommend it...in hell. (Actually, it's mostly been okay, but I did have to take a few deep breaths when I saw they'd gotten into the bundle of discontinued Habu yarn and Alchemy silk-mohair. Especially because I'm not sure moths can eat silk-mohair, but God I can't take the risk.)

even earlier than that William Morris is telling his readers to have nothing in their houses that they do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful, which is Willy straight up asking his readers if their things spark joy

I prefer this formulation, because it doesn't pretend everything is all about your feelings, so you don't bend over backwards claiming that a random hammer "sparks joy." I know Kondo doesn't recommend throwing out hammers, but it takes a fair amount of rationalization to fit it into her scheme, whereas, you know, my blood pressure cuff doesn't spark any joy in me, but it's not going anywhere.
posted by praemunire at 1:54 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


My qualifications: I am the grandchild of a legit hoarder (the Great Depression never left her mind), and my parents have hoarding tendencies. I’ve read one of Marie Kondo’s books and watched the Netflix series and think the book was way more helpful. It’s been interesting to talk to my mom about decluttering in light of recent Kondo awareness. She told me that if she kept only clothes that sparked joy, she’d have nothing to wear. That speaks to her unwillingness to spend money, let alone money on “frivolous” things like clothing. This is a woman whose second response to my advance warning about my upcoming elopement was “oh good, I won’t have to buy a dress to wear to your wedding.” Extreme self-imposed frugality in their household means that price and function wins over joy 100% of the time, which is sad to see now that I’m an adult and living differently.

As for me, I am plugging away at decluttering but have hit some roadblocks:
* I have too much paper to shred at home. I can either pay UPS Store by the pound or wait until a free community shredding event in the summer.
* Garbage pickup rules are restrictive where I live, unless I want to upgrade and pay more for a different service. Some of the most random stuff cluttering up my basement won’t fit into garbage bags, so I am wondering how I can best get rid of things that are not donatable. Do I drive to the dump?
* I literally ran out of paper grocery bags and cardboard boxes in which to put my donatable goods, which was unexpected. It seems lame to buy bags to dispose of things in...

My favorite part of Marie Kondo’s advice is how she asks you to picture the space as you would like to live in it. I am decluttering so that I can set up grow lights and start my own vegetable plants this spring. I am also decluttering so that my house is better prepared for a cat (easier to clean/vacuum, making room for accessible litter boxes, etc.). That is a lot more motivational than thinking “I have too much stuff, I should really clear some of it out.” My parents haven’t really embraced a vision of what they would like to do with their space yet, although as they think more about downsizing and moving, that goal may be finally motivational.
posted by Maarika at 2:19 PM on January 22 [11 favorites]


I think that using "spark joy" (and frankly people's oh but it's a mistranslation is pointless because "turns you on" or "causes your pulse to race" isn't actually more useful) for a subset of objects is perfectly sensible. Of which, amusingly, books are actually one of. But the actual starting metric to use for most of your household items is "do I use this", or if you want to be more sophisticated a four way matrix of "Do I need this/Do I want this". For the I want this but don't *need* this quadrant, it's then perfectly appropriate to try to figure out if you actually want it or just used to want it or think you should want it, and 'spark joy' is a reasonable shorthand for that.

It's just kind of goofy to use it as the primary one and then suddenly backtrack to useful as the metric, IMHO.
posted by tavella at 2:19 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I prefer this formulation, because it doesn't pretend everything is all about your feelings, so you don't bend over backwards claiming that a random hammer "sparks joy."

Another thing people usually leave out about Kondo is that her formulation is things you use AND things that spark joy are things to keep. She repeatedly says that utilitarian objects should be kept as long as they are useful.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 2:20 PM on January 22 [11 favorites]


added to the list
posted by thelonius at 2:23 PM on January 22


If I were to go through, say, my kitchen utensils one by one, I can absolutely guarantee that for some of them I'd say "oh yeah this one is a really good spatula" and for some I'd say "oh ugh, this is that spatula that doesn't bend right and is hard to clean." And if I were then to throw away the second spatula, I would be less irritated every single time I went to cook something and reached for a spatula. That's what the whole "sparks joy" thing is actually supposed to mean.

Yall haters are THIS close to getting me to talk myself into actually doing this, after largely ignoring the phenomenon when I was only seeing positive posts about it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:25 PM on January 22 [54 favorites]


Of course there are products.
And you can hire clones, er, consultants too
posted by Ideefixe at 2:26 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Yall haters are THIS close to getting me to talk myself into actually doing this.

Imma gonna do it while I play all my Wes Anderson movies
posted by thelonius at 2:27 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Another thing people usually leave out about Kondo is that her formulation is things you use AND things that spark joy are things to keep. She repeatedly says that utilitarian objects should be kept as long as they are useful.

I mean, look, this is her:

"Q: Some people seem to really struggle with the concept of assessing items based on whether or not they bring them joy, because then, what do you do with things that you need — like, say, a hammer — but that don’t necessarily make you feel joyful?

A: I often get this question, and I think when it comes to things that you find necessary or useful but doesn't necessarily spark joy, I recommend changing your perspective a little bit, when it comes to the things that are useful to them. What do you make happen with them?
Because for instance, with a hammer, it helps you build things or tongs, they help you cook. So when you look at it that way, they do contribute to the overall happiness in your life and so it's very important to so a value them."

Like I said, she can't just come out and say, "dude, keep your hammer, you need it to put stuff together"; instead, some gymnastics required to fit it into her framework. I think it's better to be straightforward about the fact that some of the mechanics of life are unglamorous and don't result in anything more than maintaining the status quo against the constant encroachments of entropy. That can of bug spray is a can of bug spray.
posted by praemunire at 2:32 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Someone posted a light-hearted Kondo meme in a nerdy facebook group I'm in, and dear lord, the endless ignorant scorn that resulted... I saw a glimpse of the future and it was a white male posting "but she hates books" and someone replying "she never said that, dude, here's a link" only for 12 more men to post "but she hates books" immediately thereafter. Just exhausting.

Ironically it's seems clear that many of the people criticizing her from a place of professed ignorance ("Haven't read her book, but please read my long opinion about what I imagine she stands for!") are carry emotional baggage re: their relationship with their possessions and could probably benefit from her advice.

Loved the FPP link, by the way. Shame a ton of people here just skipped it to get their hot take against her in.
posted by Emily's Fist at 2:35 PM on January 22 [20 favorites]


Like I said, she can't just come out and say, "dude, keep your hammer, you need it to put stuff together"; instead, some gymnastics required to fit it into her framework.

I don't see it as gymnastics, but that's probably because I own three hammers and one of them is very obviously better than the other ones. If I went to organize my tools with a "might this ever be useful" mindset, I might wind up keeping all of them Just In Case, but her framing makes it "feel" more OK to just keep the good one and let the other ones go.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:38 PM on January 22 [14 favorites]


The fabric I don't have a pat answer for, unfortunately. If you have friends who would actually use the stuff as scrap material for a project, then you can ask them if they want it

Before the middle of the 19th century scrap textiles were collected, boiled into a slurry, and turned into paper. And it was better paper than the wood-pulp paper that came after. Someone could still do that with rags of 100% natural fibers & it’d be a kind of cool hipster business if you could get people to donate the old clothes.

No one wins! Yay!

I’m wearing a thrifted Orvis leather jacket right now so I win. Sometimes.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:39 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


If I went to organize my tools with a "might this ever be useful" mindset

That's why the phrase is "know to be useful."
posted by praemunire at 2:41 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Like, I have old laptops I don't need, but technically still work. Are they too slow to donate to any charity? Should I consider them e-waste?

I don't want to derail but this seems like a good time to put in a plug for Free Geek, who would love to take your old laptops and fix them up and sell or donate them to those in your community that could use them. Or use them for parts, or sell them for scrap, or recycle responsibly. They'll evaluate and figure out what's usable or not. And if not that specific organization, perhaps there's something similar in your area.

I know a teacher at a low-income school in my city who gives a lot of refurbished laptops to students. To me an old laptop might be just a source of frustration taking up space in my closet, but there are kids in my city who had never owned a computer before, who can do their homework at home instead of at the library now because of donated refurbished laptops. Useful can mean different things to different people!
posted by beandip at 2:45 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


I have a collection of hard drives in enclosures...
posted by Artw at 2:48 PM on January 22


My least popular opinion by a wide margin is that personal libraries are the ne plus ultra of bougie respectability conspicuous consumption. Every book I own is one that I have both read/used within the last eighteen months and expect to read/use again in the near future. Any book I haven’t read for longer than that is clutter and out it goes.

I'd love to have every book I ever read since 1995 as I now own a house and have space for them, and I've understood this to be absolutely a status thing as much as anything for a long time (they also look good to me).

In reality I've never lived anywhere more than 2.5 years as an adult and lugging around one thousand pounds of books to the next apartment was unrealistic. The way I've been able to toss or donate everything I need to over the years is to note that it's an emotional process: all objects exert an emotional toll when I get rid of them, so I go about trashing / donating objects until I hit my emotional limit for the day, then come back the next day. If it was too hard to toss a certain book, I'd wait until next time.
posted by MillMan at 2:49 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


Inserting obligatory John Waters quote: 'If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em!'
posted by PhineasGage at 2:52 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I read Kondo's book when it first came out, and while I found much of it helpful, I was repelled by the tone and what felt like monetisation of a neurotic approach to things and clutter. (My view. If you disagree with me, go you! I'm glad you got something which made you happy out of the book.)

Flash forward to the show-- I don't like her (public persona) more now that she's suddenly more famous. This said, I'm frankly startled by the vitriol on all sides. It's possible to really dislike her approach without failing to understand Japanese culture. It's possible to be inspired by some of her techniques without buying her whole body of work. It's possible to really like her show without being a book-hating minimalist. It is possible to both normally like and normally dislike her work, without so much loading.

She's a public personality talking about cleaning methods. Is this really the hill we want to die on in this timeline?
posted by frumiousb at 2:57 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Is this really the hill we want to die on in this timeline?

This comment made me wonder if maybe everyone is just really jazzed to have something besides politics to argue about for once
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:18 PM on January 22 [40 favorites]


I honestly can't watch the show because the relationship aspects hit a very (bad!) personal place, but the concept of evaluating things for whether they're actually useful and enjoyable is really useful to me now as I prepare to (hopefully) move for the second time in six months, and this time with the ability to pack everything myself. Although on bad days I'll admit to the rubric being if something sparks anxiety it's time to let it go.

(I loved this parody article and I'm loving all the "does he spark joy" tweets as well.)
posted by epersonae at 3:19 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


This comment made me wonder if maybe everyone is just really jazzed to have something besides politics to argue about for once

Ha! Possibly. But I've honestly been frightened by the level of anger she seems to inspire. In the beginning I was freely weighing in with my opinion, but then when I see how worked up everyone gets about it, I started scrolling on past any Kondo posts.
posted by frumiousb at 3:41 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


> once again expressed his anguish about all the cars he owns that he can't drive and wants to get rid of. Only I know he does not actually want to get rid of those cars because I offer to help him every visit and every visit he turns me down.

He might want to get rid of them and not be able to, emotionally. I currently have in front of me a sweatshirt with a lot of sentimental value to me -- but also sadness attached to it -- that nobody in the house fits into any more, that's too worn out to be given to a friend, but I haven't managed to put it in the Goodwill bag yet for recycling. I haven't even managed to talk to it, Kondo-style, because thinking about doing that makes me sad. I don't want to keep it but I don't want to give it away.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:46 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Here's the thing about me and my books: Prop. 13 passed when I was 15. A lot of my local libraries (public and academic) were devastated.

That meant I felt I couldn't trust libraries to have a book in the future if I had it in my hot little hands now.

Things are slowly changing, in my head. I overwhelmingly use my Kindle these days (or MoonReader for books that are [cough] liberated). I also realize books are commitments of time, and I might not have that much time left.

But I still have a lot of books. And I still curse Howard Jarvis nearly daily. (And his Washingtonian mini-me, Tim Eyman, busily re-inventing the square wheel.)
posted by aurelian at 3:47 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


> I was freely weighing in with my opinion, but then when I see how worked up everyone gets about it, I started scrolling on past any Kondo posts

I had friends-of-friends get angry at me, and quite rude about it, when I said that I didn't see the point in holding onto your replaceable old books from college that were going to fall apart anyway.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:48 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Objects get invested with a lot of emotional weight. After my mother died, I inherited not only a bunch of her stuff but also a bunch of my grandmother's stuff which my mom had, including a pair of ugly (to me) chairs that were in great condition. When I was faced with a major move, I donated the chairs to the local YMCA fundraiser. Then I forgot all about it until the day of the sale, when I suddenly remembered the sale and literally ran to the YMCA to see the chairs one last time. When I got there the two chairs were being loaded into a car by a pair of ladies who were all dressed up. They were super sweet when I ran up to them like a mad woman and asked if I could sit in one of the chairs one last time because it had belonged to my grandmother. So they put one of them back on the sidewalk. I sat down, took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and said goodbye. I have no idea why that seemed important at the time.

It takes a lot of effort to remind myself that the things that once belonged to people I love are not those people. Sure, they remind me of those people, they can trigger memories, but those objects are often a burden that I did not ask for and usually never needed. Stuff is sticky, in the sense that there are so many different meanings it can have for us. It can remind us of the past. It can be aspirational. It can involved status. It can signify an accomplishment. Stuff is a blank slate that we project all kinds of things on, especially and particularly stuff with a history. There are lots of things I forget, but I can remember the source for virtually everything I own, when and how I acquired it, and if I bought it, usually how much I paid for it.

It's not like I am proud of that fact. It's just how it is. Like, no wonder people have feels about this topic. Plus: Not politics, as mentioned above.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:17 PM on January 22 [34 favorites]


(For real, thanks for the information, I'll definitely try to find someone else to donate my furniture to when I move this summer, but... there had to be a way to deliver that info that wasn't *quite* such a deliberate attempt at shaming, right?)
posted by palomar at 4:59 PM on January 22 [10 favorites]


'If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em!'

I'd avoided bringing this quote up, but yes, this is the absolute peak of weird slightly creepy middle class physical book fetishism, thank for pointing out
posted by ominous_paws at 5:00 PM on January 22 [16 favorites]


John Waters, noteworthy bougie. Can't believe I lived to see the day.

Metafilter: the absolute peak of weird slightly creepy middle class physical book fetishism
posted by praemunire at 5:02 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Can't and thus won't speak to the man, but the repeated quoting of this line all up and down social media - normally unattributed - is absolutely peak middle class book twitter, yup.

Still feel about as appropriative saying bougie as yasssssssss so I'll miss that, though.
posted by ominous_paws at 5:15 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I’m a John Waters fan, but if you don’t think he’s a snob, you aren’t paying attention. He’s just very weird in his snobbery.
posted by maxsparber at 5:16 PM on January 22 [17 favorites]


[A few comments removed. I think there is totally room to talk about how and why e.g. Salvation Army is a homophobic/transphobic organization without it turning to an essentially deeply personal showdown for no good reason.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:25 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I suggest holding these comments to your breast and if you feel no joy, delete.
posted by evilDoug at 7:07 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


To everyone speaking with such an air of authority, but have never read one of her books, please know what genuine buffoons you sound like to anyone who has. There isnt a single hot take here that she hasnt addressed herself. The best part was multiple people riffing on her future sale of branded organizational products, when in fact she actively discourages everyone from purchasing any products, and strongly stresses using old shoe boxes and cardboard, etc. Thats one example among many, and it's not even getting into the Shinto-related aspects that people are also mocking. The whole thing certainly may not interest you at all, but yeesh. This thread might be the most grim thing I've read in my 14 years here, and that's saying something!
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 7:24 PM on January 22 [19 favorites]


The problem isn't so much Kondo or her ideas, but rather the social networks people are discussing them on. Do they spark joy?
I didn't think so. Time to discard.
posted by signal at 7:36 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


since i am presumably aforementioned buffoons, can i just point out (in case it was missed) that marie kondo probably could do a better job of discouraging people from purchasing products by, you know, not selling products?

now if you'll excuse me, i have to set some traps in case someone comes to steal my brother's valuable stacks of old newspaper

sincerely,
langley wakeman collyer
posted by entropicamericana at 8:01 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


if you don’t think he’s a snob, you aren’t paying attention

Snobbery isn't mutually exclusive with bourgeoisness but I wouldn't call it a characteristic feature.
posted by praemunire at 8:06 PM on January 22


"Garbage pickup rules are restrictive where I live, unless I want to upgrade and pay more for a different service. Some of the most random stuff cluttering up my basement won’t fit into garbage bags, so I am wondering how I can best get rid of things that are not donatable. Do I drive to the dump?"

A lot of cities and towns in the US have a central collection point where you can take your excess garbage/recyclables. My last city had a couple of them behind shopping centers (where the trucks come for dumpsters); my current town has a dumpster behind the town hall. They're typically not well-advertised but if you check the municipality's website for "garbage" they'll generally have links to the main garbage and recycling services, as well as some auxiliary links to stuff like neighborhood cleanup information and renting dumpsters and municipal dumpsters. That should tell you if there's somewhere you can take your extra trash. The city would much rather you dispose of your extra one-time household trash properly than, like, throw it in your backyard and toss it on the highway!

"I literally ran out of paper grocery bags and cardboard boxes in which to put my donatable goods, which was unexpected. It seems lame to buy bags to dispose of things in..."

Do you have any friends with kids in diapers? Hit them up. Diaper boxes were my Kondo-salvation and my friends were all so thrilled I was taking their boxes away for them!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:35 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I certainly don't hate Kondo – but the whole phenomenon is kind of exasperating. The use of words like "life-changing" and "magic" and "joy".

Wait until you learn it's not an Apple parody.
posted by aurelian at 9:33 PM on January 22


OnTheLastCastle: "That article is pure gold because I love those CORMORAN FUCKING STRIKE books."

It made me raise an eyebrow because I own (*and* have read) the Neapolitan novels and McCullough's Truman, and I really do read the interesting articles in the New Yorker.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:32 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


since i am presumably aforementioned buffoons, can i just point out (in case it was missed) that marie kondo probably could do a better job of discouraging people from purchasing products by, you know, not selling products?

Actually, this has already been addressed in the thread, where it's pointed out that the only thing you can buy on Kondo's site are her books and that (to paraphrase Sequence) perhaps until we see cheap plastic containers sold at the likes of Target, maybe we shouldn't go back down the road of assuming she just wants to sell things to gullible Americans.

In fact, in her book, she repeatedly discourages people from buying storage solutions until the very end, after they've gone through everything and have decided on what to keep, because by then there will likely be storage containers freed up that were used for other things that can be repurposed elsewhere (like empty clothing or hobby storage that can be now used to organize kitchen supplies).

I've only read the book and haven't watched the Netflix show, so I'm assuming this huge reaction regarding getting rid of books must come from the show, because in the book she uses the same process as she does with anything else (like clothes), which doesn't seem to me a reason to incite such vitriol:
After you've finished tidying your books, you may sometimes wonder whether you should have kept so many, but don't worry. As you continue tidying, you will hone your sensitivity to joy. If you notice anything later on that has served its purpose, you can discard it at that time. And it's such a pleasure to have lots of books that spark joy. If you have picked them up one by one and determined that these are indeed the books you love, then keep them with confidence and make up your mind to cherish them.
Emphasis mine, but she literally has no problem with you owning as many books as make you happy or fulfill a need in your life. Which is why the article linked in the OP made me laugh in gleeful sympathy because ever since the Netflix series came out, I've been having to explain to friends/coworkers (who've echoed so many of the knee-jerk reactions we've all seen here and elsewhere on social media) that Kondo's philosophy is not about minimalism (so you can keep the things you love, like all your books!) or getting rid of everything that doesn't bring you joy -- I've had to repeatedly explain that yes, useful items can "spark joy," you just have to reframe how that useful item is important to your life.

(I also feel obligated to add that I have four floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that are overflowing, along with a few dozen books -- at least; probably more, because it's easy to lose count when they're not all in the same spot -- that are unceremoniously scattered about my apartment. I do eventually plan to cull my collection because I seriously do not need this many books, especially when I've been using my Kindle and when a good amount of them are nothing special and I could easily repurchase/check out from the library if needed. But my shelves of carefully collected art books and bizarre second-hand finds will stay forever. And that's okay!)
posted by paisley sheep at 11:09 PM on January 22 [18 favorites]


I've wondered if maybe people are not using the term 'minimalism' the same way I do, and if there's a disconnect there - I've been using it in the aesthetics/design/art/music/etc. sense. "Minimalism" to me is not synonymous with "asceticism", and I believe many people interested in minimalism as a guiding inspiration for their spaces and mindset are often just the opposite of ascetics (on the contrary, they're often obsessed with "perfectly sparse interiors" and the like, and can get rather consumptive around chasing these obsessions). If reduction of KonMari is upsetting, reduction of minimalism to "get rid of as much as possible" should probably be too. Here's the wiki entry on "minimalism":

The term minimalism is also used to describe a trend in design and architecture, wherein the subject is reduced to its necessary elements...

Minimalistic design has been highly influenced by Japanese traditional design and architecture...

There are observers who describe the emergence of minimalism as a response to the brashness and chaos of urban life. In Japan, for example, minimalist architecture began to gain traction in the 1980s when its cities experienced rapid expansion and booming population. The design was considered an antidote to the "overpowering presence of traffic, advertising, jumbled building scales, and imposing roadways." The chaotic environment was not only driven by urbanization, industrialization, and technology but also the Japanese experience of constantly having to demolish structures on account of the destruction wrought by World War II and the earthquakes, including the calamities it entails such as fire. The minimalist design philosophy did not arrive in Japan by way of another country as it was already part of the Japanese culture rooted on the Zen philosophy. There are those who specifically attribute the design movement to Japan's spirituality and view of nature.


Viewed from that lens, at least, I don't see why it's all that upsetting. KonMari is at least simpatico to some extent.

On the other hand, I just visited some site called minimalists.com, which produces The Minimalists Podcast and was responsible for a documentary called Minimalism, is incredibly popular (20 million is their stated number of proponents) and has apparently taken over the field of understanding of the term. They've primarily seemed to focus on things like getting rid of possessions, living with less, living in tiny homes, owning fewer than 100 things, etc., and interviewing folks who are self-professed "Minimalists" and who live that particular life. That's.... not what I've been talking about, but upon googling, it's possible that it's the popular understanding of the term now. If so, I plead ignorance and sorry for crossed wires.
posted by naju at 2:02 AM on January 23 [3 favorites]


In any case, perhaps outlining that I might not be the complete monster you've imagined, I want to say this article was a pretty decent rundown of stuff a few people mentioned in this thread, and is hard for me to find much fault with -

What White, Western Audiences Don’t Understand About Marie Kondo’s ‘Tidying Up’
posted by naju at 2:17 AM on January 23 [10 favorites]


please know what genuine buffoons you sound like

The buffoon is the most underrated instrument in the raucouster.
posted by flabdablet at 4:08 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


I've only read the book and haven't watched the Netflix show, so I'm assuming this huge reaction regarding getting rid of books must come from the show

I think there are only two episodes where Marie's clients even have books. It's 90% just a knee-jerk "someone is telling me to declutter? YOU'LL TAKE MY BOOKS OVER MY COLD DEAD BODY!!!!" And then there's the dipshit who wrote a Guardian column or whatever about how "spark joy" means creating a bonfire and burning all difficult literature.

It's all just a bit, for lack of a better word, hysterical.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:26 AM on January 23 [8 favorites]


The great article naju linked to was interesting partly because I think we have just seen a mini version of what the article describes here. ... the vitriol was never just about the books. Buzzfeed writer Anne Helen Petersen blamed Kondo, in part, for crushing the spirit of the millennial generation. “The media that surrounds us — both social and mainstream, from Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show to the lifestyle influencer economy — tells us that our personal spaces should be optimized just as much as one’s self and career. The end result isn’t just fatigue, but enveloping burnout that follows us to home and back,” she wrote.

Petersen’s analysis failed to recognize that the opposite is true. Kondo teaches that material goods are not a means for attaining happiness and urges people to appreciate what they have, a method she intends to lead to contentment, not burnout.

It’s as if Petersen, like so many other detractors, depended on the memes providing shallow and incorrect summaries of Kondo’s method rather than cull opinions from actually watching the Netflix show or reading the book upon which the series is based. Either way, the mostly white people who are not professional organizers had no problem telling Kondo, a woman of color and highly recognized person in her field, that her approach is objectively wrong.


Note: Until late in life, the white woman writing this comment had zero problems telling other white people that their approaches to X were objectively wrong because they were not her approach. I do less of it these days but it is an ongoing struggle. I am sure racism is totally a part of this ridiculous backlash to Kondo and so is good old-fashioned "I don't like it so it must be wrong" ism.

One of the things I hate about pundits, talking heads, opinion columnists, and twitter is that people need to drum up attention so they are rewarded for hysterical, contrary takes on any number of things. There is little motivation to be thoughtful. Where is the money, followers, attention, clicks, etc. in that? Life itself is often "take what you like and leave the rest" but too many of us want to take what we like but also complain bitterly about other people doing it differently.

This may seem like a derail but honestly, I believe it fits: My ex partner and I once had a huge fight because in the olden-days it was still possible to easily change channels physically. I wanted to watch a different program so I got up, walked over to the TV, and changed the channel in person instead of using the remote control on the sofa. This was a problem for my ex. I think we are all haters about some things, often inexplicably so. It's not like Kondo is sending out enforcers to wrestle books away from book lovers or to force people to following her clothes-folding regime. So why so many haters? MF neuroscientists, what do humans get out of this kind of indignation?
posted by Bella Donna at 6:27 AM on January 23 [7 favorites]


I'm not anything like a neuroscientist, but I can say that people hate feeling like they're being judged, so much so that even if they have to stretch to make the least inference to find, they'll do it. One of the few things we will make an effort to do. Suggesting someone might be able to improve how they feel about their condition makes people who share like traits feel threatened or guilty for not doing the same, so they feel the need to justify themselves even if they weren't the ones being talked to or having their choices judged at all. The potential to be judged is enough to act on.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:13 AM on January 23 [5 favorites]


Thanks largely to this thread, I ended up watching the first episode of the Netflix show. One of the things that kept popping to mind, even though it is in some ways in opposition to the method displayed in the show, is something I learned from my workplace.

Specifically, we had someone come in to teach our team the scrum agile process, because up to that point our web development team was a mess of frayed emotions and missed deadlines. Anyone who's had exposure to this stuff understands to some degree that agile is often seen as a cure-all for everything that ails the organization.

In the very first session, which included not just our development team but managers going all the way to the head office, our instructor showed us a chart of the various levels of decision making in an organization, from C-level all the way down to the basic decisions any programmer has to make moment-to-moment. The instructor then pointed to two of the seven or eight layers, and basically said, these are the decision-making layers agile is intended to change. For agile to work well, there has to be support from above to allow the right amount of space--flexibility in deadlines, avoidance of micromanagement--but crucially, the agile system doesn't address those higher levels at all. It can only fix the things it's specifically targeted to fix, and it can only do so as long as the other decision-making levels support the process.

That first episode is surprisingly good at exposing a number of issues the family is running into that don't always have to do with "my house is cluttered." And while the show and the couple in the show both credit Marie Kondo with making their lives better through tidying up, to me it felt a lot more like the home application of the same principle: Konmari can only fix the things it's intended to fix: making you appreciate the things in your home you like, and removing the things you don't. It needs support from everyone involved to really work its magic, and it can't fix everything. For all the other stuff, different methods are necessary.

Like, to me it felt like Marie Kondo and the show invading the couple's home for a month was a catalyst, a chance for that family to re-examine what was precious to them in a way that went well beyond "hey get rid of the clothes that don't spark joy." And not to say that there aren't concrete benefits to the method, but I feel like there were other reasons why the family felt happier, like the husband realizing he wasn't at his best at home and needed to try harder. I wonder how much of that is actually due to the transformative properties of examining everything in your home to decide if it sparks joy, and how much of that is due to other emotional labour happening off-screen that's not really related to the tidying process.

Something else I noticed is that Marie Kondo really, really, really does not ever tell people they have to do anything. In fact, she seems to give them as many outs as possible while still adhering to some kind of principle or method. Repeatedly throughout the episode, people ask Marie what she does in her own home, or if she ever does anything less than absolutely perfectly, and her answer is always "yeah, sometimes I let things slip." She talks about leaving the kitchen a mess and going to sleep sometimes, or having to scold her children if they're being jerks when she tries to include them in folding clothes, or having a part of her garage where she just shoves crap she hasn't had a chance to go through yet.

Obviously she thinks her method is useful and that it's best to stick to it where possible, but she's not a disciplinarian. About the most forceful she seems to get is when the wife starts throwing clothes in the discard bin without thanking them first, and Marie's like "oh! don't forget to thank them!"
posted by chrominance at 7:55 AM on January 23 [14 favorites]


I can say that people hate feeling like they're being judged

I would politely submit that if someone thinks they are being judged by a stranger who has never met them based on a show they've never seen and a book they've never read, the natural urge not to be judged might have tipped toward neurosis.
posted by maxsparber at 7:58 AM on January 23 [16 favorites]


I would politely submit that if someone thinks they are being judged by a stranger who has never met them based on a show they've never seen and a book they've never read, the natural urge not to be judged might have tipped toward neurosis.

Shhh, you're only reinforcing the belief!

Seriously though, that's sort of true, the culture is neurotic. It exerts a constant pressure to identify oneself with brands, celebrities, and other things that have little real connection to our lives save through media and consumption. Saying you don't like something can feel like an insult to someone who does like it even when the comment is only expressing your own opinion or taste. You can see it happen in all sorts of contexts, political obviously, but socially and commercially too. It's not a good thing, but as far as I can see it's all too common a reaction especially on social media sites.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:42 AM on January 23 [3 favorites]


One "problem" with this method and books is that it feels weird to thank a book that's been sitting unread in your shelf for years. What do you thank it for before throwing it away? The potential of being read?
posted by ymgve at 10:34 AM on January 23


Teaching you that you don't want to read it.
posted by maxsparber at 10:35 AM on January 23 [10 favorites]


But I want to read it, just...not now. (Repeat for another ten years)
posted by ymgve at 10:47 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]


What do you thank it for before throwing it away?

Being a friend?
posted by octobersurprise at 10:53 AM on January 23 [7 favorites]


It feels a little weird to be thanking any inanimate object, honestly.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:55 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Thanking people is a little weird too, but I got used to it eventually.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 10:59 AM on January 23 [7 favorites]


See, I think that's one of the really helpful things in her method. For a lot of people (not everyone), they're already a little bit, informally, animist about things. Crouton-petters. And it can contribute to keeping things well beyond when you should, because you feel bad for them (like that Ikea lamp ad). And this way of looking at it takes that impulse of (what one might think is) misplaced empathy and says, "great, run with that, here's how you can respect and be kind to your objects," and coincidentally this lets you remove some of that deadweight stuff from your house.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:00 AM on January 23 [24 favorites]


It feels a little weird to be thanking any inanimate object, honestly.

That's the sort of cultural difference that we're not actually obligated to participate in, but is worth knowing about and respecting.
posted by maxsparber at 11:00 AM on January 23 [8 favorites]


Yes, I'm only speaking for how it would make me feel, not that it would be in any way weird for someone else to do.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:15 AM on January 23


See, I think that's one of the really helpful things in her method.

Me too! Maybe it doesn't work that way for everybody, but I found thanking objects was one of the most instructive parts of the process. It made things easier to discard, as mentioned. But coming up with why I was grateful, just that small bit of dialogue with different objects, helped me to discover patterns in what I was discarding; even better, such recognition really helped to stop me afterwards when I had similar temptations or impulses. Just as a quick example: apparently I was a sucker for outdoor oriented clothing that, in the store, made me feel like I have a long, lean, and athletic looking body. But because I do not have a long, lean, athletic looking body that clothing was really uncomfortable to actually wear doing outdoor activities, and as a result I just basically wore to shreds two shirts that are comfortable. I don't know if I would have recognized if I hadn't been basically forced to say, "thanks, shirt, for making me realize this kind of shirt style is really uncomfortable," over and over again. Sometimes the person we need to communicate with is our own awesome selves, and an object can serve as a great proxy to make that dialogue happen.

I, too, also just felt like I had a lot more respect for my things, especially clothing, afterward. I *wanted* to take care of my clothes and I say that as someone who, her whole life, literally just stuffed all her underwear in one drawer and then had zero joy in dressing. And while I still don't like laundry, or dressing for that matter, I actually don't loathe both like I had previously, and it's been a few years since the Great Decluttering of our home. That really surprised me!
posted by barchan at 11:32 AM on January 23 [17 favorites]


But I want to read it, just...not now. (Repeat for another ten years)
posted by ymgve at 12:47 PM on January 23 [+] [!]


You want to want to read it.

The human condition in seven words.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:51 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


I watched the first episode of the show today, also inspired by this thread. (The Swedish title of the Marie Kondo series can be translated as The Art of Cleaning.) I expect I will be watching the rest of the series. Alas, I will be unable to follow her method when it comes to clothes. I cannot sort clothes by touching them because touching them does not help me determine which clothes I genuinely love or enjoy wearing. Instead, touching an object or outfit instantly triggers any emotional memories or beliefs I may have about that item, which makes it much more likely I will keep it.

Years ago I learned from a professional organiser who specialised in helping people like me (called the chronically disorganised, no kidding) that if someone like me wanted to get rid of things, it was best to have a helper hold up items for me to say yes or no to rather than touch them myself. I have done this for two transatlantic moves. It is much, much easier for me to part with things that I do not touch first.

Retailers know about the power of touch. Physically holding products can create a sense of psychological ownership, driving must-have purchase decisions. This idea may underlie the push to move inventory from display cases into customers’ hands, a trend seen in many electronics outlets such as the Apple Store and Best Buy. Additionally, interpersonal touch, such as a handshake or light pat on the shoulder, can lead people to feel safer and subsequently spend and consume more.

Of course, I have no idea if any of the supposed findings below have been replicated, but it's interesting stuff to me: Whether it’s running your fingers over fabrics or weighing a coffee mug in your hand, touching a product ensures future recognition of it, according to a study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology. For instance, those who want to purchase a candy bar are more likely to buy a KitKat over a Snickers, if they’re holding their smartphone in their hand. That’s because the candy bar and the phone are more or less the same in size and shape. Nestlé lucked out. ...

Just holding a product in your hand increases your likelihood of buying it, the researchers found. That and we’re liable to purchase whatever item we are looking at, if it’s similar to what we’re currently holding. This could have tremendous ramifications not only in marketing but psychology, sociology, neurology, and our understanding of human evolution.

posted by Bella Donna at 1:13 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


I have a huge problem with emotional attachment to shoes and clothes, which is why I have tons of them sitting in storage right now because I can’t bear to get rid of them, but there is physically no space in my apartment and I tend to gravitate toward different styles now. Nobody is enjoying the clothes while they’re in plastic bins, but... I know they’re there! And they’re still mine! But the process of thanking them individually might help me, even if it’s time consuming, and that’s the point, I suppose.

Thank you, embroidered top, for being the first shirt I wore when I started classes in grad school. Thank you, shiny pink shirt, for making me look fabulous all those nights at the bar with my friends. Thank you, blue sweater, for keeping me warm during my honeymoon in Toronto. Thank you, jeans, for making my ass look great when it was younger and a different size. Thank you, leopard print platform heels, for making me feel sexy, then teaching me that I can’t wear platform heels without my feet, knees, and back screaming at me. Thank you, Doctor Who t-shirt, for identifying my nerdishness among others during the insane fandom part of my life.

All of these are memories that won’t go away even when the objects aren’t mine. If the clothes do end up on a thrift store rack, they may end up in the hands of another woman, size 14-20, who may be delighted to find cute clothes in her size that are actually affordable (if perhaps a little out of date, but these things cycle). Even if I wore them again, I’ll never be the girl in her twenties going to the late night pizza place after closing down the bars of metro Detroit. I’ll never be the young curious grad student, brand new to California, utterly unaware of how academic politics work. I’m someone else now. And someone out there may have memories of their own to make with those clothes.
posted by Meghamora at 1:49 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


For those of you asking there are also junk removal services that will come to your house and you point at your junk and they carry it away. They are like big, burly angels getting crap out of the house.

Anyway the nail in the coffin for getting rid of stuff was when my grandparents died And aside from a few sentimental bits and bobs it was just all crap that needed to be gotten rid of. As the estate sale was winding down it was like “you want this book? Sure, hey, take 3 more, whatever gets rid of the damn things.” All those carefully cultivated displays of consumerist personality picked over by vultures like me (hey, I love estate sales).

Even “treasured” things like home movies and pictures really aren’t. Like before he died, my grandfather had a bunch of his super old home movies digitized, so a bunch of us sat down for a Family Bonding Moment. There was a little bit of that for a few minutes but then it was like “oh look, this is...a party I guess? Man I don’t remember who that is.” And eventually my grandparents wandered away and everyone else wandered away and I’m sitting there like “wait why the hell am I sitting here watching home movies full of people I don’t know?” He also took lots of pictures but nobody wants literal boxes of enormous photo albums full of people they don’t remember stacked in their house.

My mom is getting up there in age and I’m already keeping a mental list of what’s going in the junk truck on day one. She’s apparently convinced me and my sister are going to carefully and solemnly split up everything and I’m like “we don’t need a china cabinet...we don’t want the good crystal because we don’t host dinner parties...neither of us need a formal dining table AND a kitchen table.” And that’s before we get hoarder-y stuff like “the torn sheet she pulled out of the trash because I CAN FIX IT” that she hasn’t fixed in 2 years, the box fan where the dogs chewed through the cord that she is TOTALLY going to fix and require that has sat untouched for a year, etc. etc.

It’s all junk going in the trash.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:50 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


It feels a little weird to be thanking any inanimate object, honestly.

I mean, people do talk to their cars. To be fair, the conversations aren't always expressions of thanks and gratitude, especially for those cars getting on in years.

Related to this, I found one survey that claims that 40% people actually name their cars.
posted by FJT at 2:53 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


She’s apparently convinced me and my sister are going to carefully and solemnly split up everything and I’m like “we don’t need a china cabinet...we don’t want the good crystal because we don’t host dinner parties...neither of us need a formal dining table AND a kitchen table.”

Man, people are REALLY of two minds about this shit. I am constantly anxious that my mom or dad will hear things like this and get rid of all the stuff "so I don't have to" because I want to like lovingly pick up everything and pet it and find it homes in my home and all, but apparently it gives other people the screaming jeebies.
posted by corb at 3:00 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


naju, thanks for the reflection you linked about what some people are missing out on when they talk about Kondo's approach. I liked this a lot: "Kami are Shinto spirits present everywhere — in humans, in nature, even in inanimate objects. At an early age, I understood this to mean that all creations were miracles of a sort. I could consider a spatula used to cook my eggs with the wonder and mindful appreciation you’d afford a sculpture; someone had to invent it, many human hands and earthly resources helped get it to me, and now I use it every day. " That speaks to me in a way that "sparking joy" does not: it's not only the personal crouton-petting connection, but also a recognition of how many human hands went into making and placing a given object in my home. Maybe I'm another set of hands caring for a thing for a while, before its goes to its next destination. Stewardship, rather than a cycle of owning and purging. Anyway, thank you.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:30 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


"Me too! Maybe it doesn't work that way for everybody, but I found thanking objects was one of the most instructive parts of the process."

I found myself asking some of my items, "Are you living you best life, item?" Sitting in the back of my closet never being worn is not that skirt's best life! I had an expensive food processor I got for my wedding that had moved with me four times and been used twice and I kept lugging it around out of guilt. When I was Kon-Mari-ing my house, a friend who ran a women's shelter sent out an appeal for kitchen items, for a woman who loved to cook who'd had to leave behind her entire kitchen to flee her abusive husband with her three kids and now was in an apartment and wanted to be able to cook for her kids and I was like HEY DO YOU WANT A HIGH-END FOOD PROCESSOR? and off it went to the talented home cook who uses it all the time and THAT FOOD PROCESSOR IS LIVING ITS BEST LIFE. Which it could never do with me! And I'm happy that she's happy, and that the food processor gets to fulfill its tool-ness instead of sitting in my cabinet collecting dust.

"Man, people are REALLY of two minds about this shit. I am constantly anxious that my mom or dad will hear things like this and get rid of all the stuff "so I don't have to" because I want to like lovingly pick up everything and pet it and find it homes in my home and all,"

If they know you want it, why would they throw it out?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:41 PM on January 23 [16 favorites]


Weird, I guess it depends on your perspective.

I too find it weird that so many people get so worked up about a de-cluttering show and book when we've been swamped in them for years. But this sort of feels like the old "I can't believe all the morons that think pro wrestling is real" kind of thing.

I'm pretty sure no one really thinks she's going to come over and steal books, why does that sarcasm keep coming up? What is that even supposed to be referencing?

Even as a joke I thought the article was weirdly defensive and over the top.

I read a constant stream of people talking about how much hate, seething hate, she gets, but all I've ever really seen are jokes. On the other hand this very thread is full of people being angry to the point of name calling because some people disagree or just don't like what she's selling. Why the need to defend her so passionately as opposed to other self help pros?

Some of those linked defenses have a really uncomfortable "magical asian" vibe to them. She seems to be the victim of a lot of people's projections.
posted by bongo_x at 3:53 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


If they know you want it, why would they throw it out?

Well, I don't know how to really talk about mortality with people older than me. So I don't know how to say say 'mom and dad, you are eventually going to die, but I cherish everything you have owned and the stories it tells, I literally want every single piece of paper to understand you better and know your life.' Suggestions welcome!
posted by corb at 5:12 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


I read a constant stream of people talking about how much hate, seething hate, she gets, but all I've ever really seen are jokes.

I did link to a small roundtable of criticism earlier, but here's more from Vox, and another one from Bustle, for starters.

All three mention Anakana Schofield's tweet storm, which I would link to, but she has since locked her account. Preserved from her Guardian article expanding on her thoughts is the first tweet that went viral and set off a whole swath of similar hot takes:
Do NOT listen to Marie Kondo or Konmari in relation to books. Fill your apartment & world with them. I don’t give a shite if you throw out your knickers and Tupperware but the woman is very misguided about BOOKS. Every human needs a v extensive library not clean, boring shelves
From Bustle:
Other users soon followed, including author Jennifer Wright who, in a now-deleted tweet, wrote "This woman is a monster" in response to an image that showed Kondo with a speech-bubble that read, "Ideally, keep less than 30 books." Opinion pieces popped up, too, including an article by book critic Ron Charles in The Washington Post entitled, "Keep your tidy, spark-joy hands off my book piles, Marie Kondo."
It's easy to see these criticisms as a few simple articles to brush off, but I am also going to guess you are not active on Twitter, or the parts of it that have been spitting out memes about Marie Kondo about things she has never said and never would. I've also seen it cross into Facebook and Tumblr; and if you have only seen jokes, then that's great, but it really hits a very frustrating tipping point when all the jokes end up repeating the same misinformation and misunderstanding. Those don't sound like very good jokes, to me.

The article wasn't "weirdly defensive" taken in this context, and if this massive thread is any indication, it's because people are tired, oh my god that's not what she's saying AT ALL; and yes, her methods should be simply take it or leave it, but that's not the reality, is it?
posted by lesser weasel at 5:13 PM on January 23 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I've seen that stuff on twitter, I took them as jokes and playful disagreement. How could you not? I find it weird to think that they are actual attacks on her. There is a serious gap in humor styles that people would use the word "hate".

I understand why it would be frustrating to have someone's opinions mischaracterized, but this is about someone's organizing suggestions they're selling, not religion, and people having fun with a trendy TV show. It's mostly weird that people are getting so wound up about it at all.
Have they never seen any of the other 10,000 books and TV shows on the subject?

(Why does Apple think mischaracterized is not a word?)
posted by bongo_x at 5:37 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Even the humor bit linked to in this post feels like a bit of an attack on Kondo to me, because I think it's partly getting its jollies - getting us our jollies - by saying she's a hypocrite, that she's really as judgemental as the people angry at her imply. Which is less funny when there are published articles attacking her as though she's done the judgemental things.
posted by clew at 5:38 PM on January 23


bongo_x, it's cool that you take anything negative you read about Kondo as a joke, but it's coming across gaslighty that you find those criticisms strictly playful and also that you find the subject of organizing not worth caring about regardless. There are a lot of things said about Kondo that are clearly not a joke and they've been linked and discussed in this thread, along with reasons why people care, like dead loved ones. Maybe just passing this thread by would make more sense, if it's not sparking joy in your heart of whatever? (Yes, that was a joke about Kondo!)

Why do people get so wound up about it? I think you can pretty easily think of why people would get heated up about feeling like Kondo is telling them their way of organization is wrong (though she isn't) or that being a disorganized person who holds onto to phonebooks and sweaters from 10 sizes ago makes you a bad person (though she isn't) because feeling that way hurts and if you can attack the person you think is making you feel that way as an attempt to get rid of those bad feelings, then you're probably not just joking when you criticize Kondo. And you're probably not being playful if you followed her methods and felt better about yourself and would like to share how good that felt and don't like seeing people misrepresent her.

Lots of us have shame spirals about what we're holding onto, piles of clutter that we see everyday, or we feel comfortable in our clutter but feel ashamed that we're not sophisticated enough to prefer an uncluttered life. It's like asking why women feel bad about their crow's feet or gray hair when it really doesn't matter because it ignores that it's part of a culture that we're all exposed to and you might try as hard as you can to ignore that message but see it enough times and it seeps in. And once you buy into it, you might become a gatekeeper for the status quo because if you have the worry about it, then everyone else should have to, as well.

It's the same thing with organization. You pointed out that there are so many books and TV shows on the subject — well, there you go. People are getting this message hammered home that organization is something they can do to feel happier, to get more done, to be a better person, and those are intensely personal judgements. And then you add in that most of us live in a society that has told us that we are the sum of the things that we own and it feels even more personal.

And...to top it off, I'm pretty sure there's a fair amount of people who have such a reaction to her because of racism and sexism, which isn't playful or a joke, but it explains why her method in particular is the one getting torn up in think pieces and on Twitter.

So here we are, welcome to Metafilter, we have beans and we'd like to talk about our thoughts about them... together.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:06 PM on January 23 [17 favorites]


One of the hardest things about this has been convincing my hoarder friend that it is okay that he feels joy in his things. Everything he has is so overwhelmed with shame/guilt/fear that just holding a thing and feeling joy is almost too much.

My husband is currently on a kick to get me to do it because he thinks I have too much stuff. I pointed out that he has to respect what my values are, not ignore them in the pursuit of something. Not sure what since mate your side of the closet doesn't close why am i getting rid of stuff.
posted by geek anachronism at 10:36 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


The fabric I don't have a pat answer for, unfortunately. If you have friends who would actually use the stuff as scrap material for a project, then you can ask them if they want it

I was very pleased to see H&M has begun a chain-wide textiles drop off program. It's not one of those "maybe talk to a manager I don't know" but rather "here's a designated box for your textiles - not just reusable clothes - and here's your coupon for using it".

Of course it's an incentive to shop for more, but nobody makes you stick around to spend the coupon. I feel considerably better about dropping here than, say, The Salvation Army, and frankly this allows me to always have a bag to take in on my way somewhere (versus hoping to find a donation center open when I can get there).

Also, this thread and its thorough analysis of all takes is why I keep coming back to metafilter. Who knew this would be the thread where I burned all my likes?
posted by abulafa at 6:20 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


> lesser weasel:
"but I am also going to guess you are not active on Twitter,"

Tangential, but this sort of statement always seems off to me. Twitter has more than 336,000,000 active users. Any one user might maybe interact with .001% of the network. Why would you assume that other people would see the same posts, people, etc, that you do?
posted by signal at 6:30 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


And you're probably not being playful if you followed her methods and felt better about yourself and would like to share how good that felt and don't like seeing people misrepresent her.

I sincerely appreciate how this and comments in general are framing how some of the criticism can feel hurtful to people. Something you read and tried and which changed your life for the better (perhaps profoundly so) is getting criticized, mocked, and misrepresented all over the internet to various degrees, and lots of that feels, and maybe actually is, unscrupulous or dismissive. That's surely not a great thing. Add in the usual misogynists and racists rampant on twitter and it's hard not to see a malicious mob.

On the other side of the token:

Not everyone here is malicious or unscrupulous, and there's some unsolicited armchair psychology sprinkled throughout this discussion of people who offer criticism that I find uncomfortable. It seems to be sincerely offered up, which I'm not sure makes it better. Some examples:
Ironically it seems clear that many of the people criticizing her… carry emotional baggage re: their relationship with their possessions and could probably benefit from her advice.

Suggesting someone might be able to improve how they feel about their condition makes people who share like traits feel threatened or guilty for not doing the same, so they feel the need to justify themselves even if they weren't the ones being talked to or having their choices judged at all.

feeling that way hurts and if you can attack the person you think is making you feel that way as an attempt to get rid of those bad feelings, then you're probably not just joking when you criticize Kondo

I'm not sure if these are meant to be charitable explanations or sympathetic, but in most cases, you simply don't know what anyone's emotional baggage is, or whether they have psychological issues around clutter/cleanliness/hoarding that they're projecting or denying, or have something else going on, or are just simply commenting on an extant trending topic that's present in the same way they would comment about The Good Place. It's usually best to not proclaim stuff like this when we're right here in the thread reading and at least trying to have some kind of dialogue.
posted by naju at 6:34 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


You bring up a great point, and, if it helps, naju, my statement (last one you quoted) was absolutely not meant to be directed at anyone on this thread, it was meant about critics elsewhere who seem to not actually know what her true methods or philosophy is at all! I’m sorry that was unclear, I can see why someone would read that and think I was painting all criticism with that brush and I apologize for that. I think the discussion here has been pretty nuanced and that folks can criticize Kondo without it really being about their own internal shame or something. Thanks for bringing this up.

FWIW, her methods don’t work for me, so I really appreciate all the different perspectives on her brought to this thread. I know the article linked was a joke and thought it was funny but appreciate the serious discussion that came from it.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 7:47 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


"I was very pleased to see H&M has begun a chain-wide textiles drop off program."

When my town renewed its recycling contract this year, they added textile recycling. Once a year they send you a couple of orange bags in the mail (you can pick up more at the town hall), and if you have any textiles at all you want to get rid of, regardless of condition, you put them in the orange bag and leave it next to your recycling bin on trash day. The recycling truck takes your orange bag (in like a hopper in the cab of the truck, it looks like?), and they're all picked up at the town recycling depot by a for-profit textile recycler, who sorts them into things that can be resold and things that will be shredded for rag, and then does that. The profit the recycler makes off the textiles pays for the program so it's free to us. I think it's wonderful!

(Honestly I think more similar programs should be authorized -- in Peoria if you put out anything metal the night before trash day, scavengers would come get it overnight, because we had a metal recycling plant nearby that paid by the pound. They mostly took bulk industrial metal, but scavengers who bundled household metal could make good money! But it's technically illegal to "steal" trash and most of the people who did it were immigrants (of varying immigration status so a lot of them definitely didn't want to be hassled by the cops or angry residents). It'd be great if they could go to the city and get a magnet to put on the door of their pickup that says "city-sanctioned metal recycler" because if the trash guys take it, it goes to the landfill. But if the metal scavengers take it, it gets recycled, and they make a profit on it!)

It'd be great if Kondo-mania gets more publicity for cities' lesser-known recycling & disposal programs -- metal, e-waste, white goods, hazardous waste disposal, etc.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:11 AM on January 24 [10 favorites]


Took some books to the charity bookshop without mentioning Marie Kondo... it can be done!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:14 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


From The Cut: Like everyone else with a Netflix subscription, I spent a recent Saturday watching Marie Kondo’s new show, Tidying Up, and then dumping the contents of my dresser onto my bed (including a bunch of forgotten cedar chips at the bottom of my sweater drawer, unfortunately). Per Kondo’s instructions, I thanked my ratty undies, fondled my socks, and folded my shirts into pert little rectangles. I hauled a bunch of crap to Goodwill. And then I saved $138.

The money was an indirect result of my decluttering rampage, and also a surprising one. The backstory: I was planning to spend it on a pair of pants that I’ve wanted since last summer and had just gone on super-sale — 60 percent off, down to the aforementioned $138. I decided to buy them. Instead, I clicked through to the checkout page and stopped. These pants would disrupt my new organization scheme. Suddenly, the pants lost their novelty. I didn’t want them anymore. Ads for them followed me around the internet for days afterward and I wasn’t even tempted. ... Could tidying up really make a lasting difference in my spending? If so, perhaps a lot of us are approaching our finances backward — instead of stressing out about our bank accounts, we should be looking at our stuff.


Imma gonna go out on a limb here and say that I, at least, need to do both. Will also note that my clutter has literally cost me thousands of dollars over the years courtesy of misplaced checks (that cannot be replaced for reasons, trust me on this one), late fees, etc. Stuff and money, why neither of these topics are especially loaded for many people, why do you ask? (Sigh.)
posted by Bella Donna at 9:09 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Oh, another random thing I kind of wonder about (and maybe is explained in her book). Her method groups all your household items into one of five buckets:

Clothes
Books
Papers
Everything Else
Sentimental Items

Why do books get a separate category? I'm one of those old-millennial heathens that has a ton of movies, music and video games sitting on my shelf alongside all my books, and they take up at least equal (and probably more) space both physically and mentally. But it's books that get their own category.

I wonder if that's part of the reason why lots of people felt like she was calling out how many books you've got. Books get a particular focus in her system that isn't there for other items. Maybe Marie Kondo just doesn't have a record collection.
posted by chrominance at 9:33 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


(not to abuse the edit window: I say "old-millennial" because I expect most people older than me will have more books and fewer of the other things, and anyone younger than me will have dumped most of their CDs, DVDs, etc. for digital equivalents or streaming.)
posted by chrominance at 9:34 AM on January 24


They get a separate category because you develop a sense for whether something sparks joy or not as you go through the process.

Clothing is something you wear every day all the time, and it should be relatively easy to figure out if it sparks joy for you. On the other hand, sentimental items are going to be the hardest to go through, so you want your sense of joy to be finely honed by then.

For most books, if you do make a mistake and donate them, they are fairly easy to replace. Not so for sentimental items.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:58 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


From Lion's Roar: How Marie Kondo Bucks Japanese Tradition, and Why It Matters: Gesshin Greenwood examines how Netflix’s Tidying Up star Marie Kondo combines the emptiness of Zen Buddhist practice with her signature spark of joy.
posted by Lexica at 10:15 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


For most books, if you do make a mistake and donate them, they are fairly easy to replace. Not so for sentimental items.

Oh, I mean, I get why a) books are separate from sentimental items and why b) sentimental items are last in the process. What I don't get is why my books specifically are considered a class of object, and not my records or my DVDs or whatever? They're just as replaceable as books are. I care about my music collection way more than my books. (Sorry bibliophiles.) But books are privileged in the system whereas my music collection is given roughly the same weight as, say, tupperware or pens.

That's not to say Kondo is wrong to do this, I'm just curious if there was a specific reason for it.
posted by chrominance at 11:20 AM on January 24


Reading an ebook is materially different to reading a regular book, but listening to digitised music/watching digitised movies are no different from putting physical CDs/DVDs in a player. No-one reminisces about the feel of a CD or the smell of a DVD box. You can, theoretically, get rid of all your CDs/DVDs but still have all the music/films in digital form in one way or another.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:19 PM on January 24


I don't know, chrominance. I hadn't thought of it that way! Thanks for the new perspective. I generally agree with EndsOfInvention, except that I know several people who have moved probably hundreds of pounds of CD jewel cases from house to house for 20+ years. So for those people, they could probably group their collections in with books?

That also gets at a weak spot with KonMari for me, at least for Americans with big houses and garages: her komono or miscellany category ends up containing kitchen stuff, linen closets, bathrooms, pantries, garages, on and on. So much. I would love to learn how much of the categories she chooses have to do with the way space is used in a typical Japanese household, and I wonder if the KonMari method in the US will change over time to accommodate more categories.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:25 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


When my town renewed its recycling contract this year, they added textile recycling. Once a year they send you a couple of orange bags in the mail (you can pick up more at the town hall), and if you have any textiles at all you want to get rid of, regardless of condition, you put them in the orange bag and leave it next to your recycling bin on trash day.

We have a similar program except the bags are green. It has been very useful for cutting through our collective guilt about wasting perfectly good items--now they're not being wasted! The textiles will be doing good to someone! And we don't have to store them and find it hard to get to the clothes that actually fit or are good clothes because we're constantly digging through the poorly-fitting ones.

My four-adult household actually, these days, usually goes through about one 64-gallon trash can a week, and a significant portion of that is cat litter. We generally burn through anywhere between one to one and a half 96-gallon recycling cans in the same time, mostly in the form of cardboard, rinsed aluminum cans, and the odd hard plastic container. One of my roomies has some proto-hoarding tendencies and finds it really upsetting to throw things away where they'll possibly destroy the environment, and finding ways to recycle them really helps with that.
posted by sciatrix at 12:41 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


How Marie Kondo Bucks Japanese Tradition, and Why It Matters

Odd that Shinto and Animism don’t get much of a mention there, being sort of tucked in as an offhand mention of “other traditions”. I wonder if that might count for some of the bucking of Buddhist tradition.

Also not sure that taking unused material that’s just taking up space to goodwill or recycling really comes in under “waste”.
posted by Artw at 1:37 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing that single-stream recycling is not going to stay affordable. THe more clever approaches to not crossing the streams, the better.

chrominance, I think if it wouldn't be odd for you to refer to your "music library" or "games library" etc. then doing them when you do your reading library would make sense. Heck, I have shelves of books that are sentimental objects, not reading or research objects.
posted by clew at 1:38 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Odd that Shinto and Animism don’t get much of a mention there, being sort of tucked in as an offhand mention of “other traditions”.

It's an especially weird omission considering that Kondo spent five years as a miko at a Shinto shrine. But, that being said, my understanding is that the Japanese don't draw a really hard sectarian line between the two religions, and that they've influenced one another a lot over their centuries of coexistence at the same time that they've both influenced Japanese culture as a whole. The details are surely far, far more complicated than that, of course, especially post-Meiji.

Anyway, I was curious to see if Kondo had linked her method to Shinto directly and found this statement in an interview:
“To minimise one’s belongings and use selected items with joy and respect sounds like Zen philosophy,” Kondo told the Telegraph. ...

She added: “... I didn’t practise Shintoism deeply but it has an influence on my tidying method."
It's interesting to me that she mentions Zen at all. But, then she goes on to reiterate that she considers her method to be influenced by Shinto. Which makes me wonder if her reference to Zen there was a response to the interviewer bringing it up.

Either way, it's definitely odd to me that somebody would write an article explaining Kondo's relationship to the wider Japanese culture in terms of Zen without mentioning Shinto at all, in light of Kondo' background with Shinto and direct statements expressing that Shinto was one of the inspirations for her method.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:21 PM on January 24 [6 favorites]


" I would love to learn how much of the categories she chooses have to do with the way space is used in a typical Japanese household, and I wonder if the KonMari method in the US will change over time to accommodate more categories."

I KonMari'd my house when the book came out -- I talked about that experience here because I'd finished literally the day before that FPP went up. And if you want a little more amusing backstory, I went into labor a few weeks early the next day at about 3 a.m. and delivered Nano McGee about 13 hours after posting that comment in a very dramatic emergency C-section (she was a bit premature), IT'S LIKE SHE KNEW I had the house decluttered! But one of the things I did, which a lot of other Americans who were also early Kondo-adopters, was go room-by-room.

I did start with clothes, and that is GREAT, because clothes are really pretty easy to tell what "sparks joy," and it was FUCKING GLORIOUS to have a closet and dresser that was full of only things that fit and that I liked to wear and that had SPACE for the clothes to breathe (I owned 80 pairs of shoes when I started, I got rid of FIFTY-FIVE PAIRS). And having my clothes every single day be pleasant to deal with and easy to store made me SO INSPIRED to do the rest of the house. So IMO definitely start with clothes!

But after the clothes I did the "komono" (everything else), and I went room by room, not the whole house of komono at once. It simply wasn't practical for a family of four (at that time) with two little kids in an American house (and not even that big an American house!). Sometimes I would gather all the similar things from a few places -- I did all the office supplies at once even though they were stored in a few places -- but other times I just did each room as it came. I did my kitchen last of the komono because I have a lot of feelings about it!

(I also did okay on money -- I consigned some clothes (bridesmaids dresses etc) and made about $80, and I listed some furniture on craigslist and made around $250 selling furniture that no longer worked for my house. When I finished with the living room and knew what I needed to store, I turned around and used that cash to buy some Ikea toy storage units for the kids' stuff that DID work in my space. One of the things I sold was this really lovely secretary desk, with little cubby holes and letter slots and stamp drawers, that I used to pay bills for a long time but now mostly paid online etc, and the lady who bought it had just retired and was doing a lot of writing and wanted her own little space at home for her laptop and her notes that she could close when people came over, and she had always wanted a secretary desk with a rolltop she could close and cubbyholes for sorting, so my old secretary desk is living its best life again!)

After that I did papers -- half the papers were super-easy for me because they were boring records, but I know I tend to get a bit sentimentally attached to other kinds of papers, so in keeping with the "least to most sentimental" I did papers after komono.

And THEN I did books which are very sentimental for me!

And THEN I did sentimental items. Although having read the whole book and applied it I did get rid of some "sentimental" items when I did the komono. Because OH MAN if someone I love gave me a thing, no matter how dumb the thing is, I have a very hard time getting rid of it ever!

Regarding the books specifically, I own a metric ass-ton of books (about 7 full-height bookcases when I started, I'd say), and I think I got rid of about 20% of my books. I sort-of felt like I had to keep everything I'd read, like as a record of having read it, and everything I eventually intended to read but never got around to. I was able to get rid of a bunch of books I'd read and NOT LIKED and didn't intend to read ever again, and maybe a dozen books that I was never. ever. going to read. I have about five bookcases now. But what really surprised me was how much more I enjoyed my bookcases (the primary decor in my living room at the time! We had a craftsman come build in some REALLY NICE shelves in our last house!) when they contained only books that truly brought me joy, not books that I had read but hated, and not books that were making me feel guilty about not reading them, but all books that were good friends and beloved companions. STILL A LOT OF BOOKS. But a much more curated collection!

(I think the thing I kept that a lot of people would get rid of was books from college -- not textbooks but academic books I read for upper-level classes, which I'm not really ever going to read again and by now have mostly been updated by more recent books, but looking at them or flipping through them does give me joy in remembering how much I enjoyed a particular class or a particular intellectual challenge.)

So definitely I could Kon-Mari again (2 1/2 years on) and clear out more clutter, especially because with children the clutter is constantly coming in. I did just recently do my clothes again, to purge a bunch of the pregnant-and-nursing clothes from Nano McGee's arrival and uggggggh it is once again so glorious to have space in my drawers. And since we're living in a rental now (had to sell our old house before we could look to buy in our new city, and now we're waiting for there to be any inventory worth buying!) it was really wonderful to have gone through so much of our stuff and to be able to fit my kitchen tools and my crafting supplies in the VERY MINIMAL space I have for them here without having to purge like crazy. I even still have an empty cabinet where I can stash my kids' projects when they're not working on them (because the only place to work on them is the dining room table which is also where we must eat)!

I also have been really pleased with how well taking pictures of things has worked, and loading them into a folder and/or a digital picture frame. My computer rotates what picture I see every 3 hours or so, and so I see Some Silly Sentimental Thing that I took a picture of that pops up a few times a year and I'm like "Oh man! I loved that thing! Wasn't that great? I'm so glad this picture came up today!" whereas when it was in a box in my basement I saw it once every five years and was like "Oh man, I loved this thing, but now I feel intense guilt about hanging on to it because it is broken and taking up space!" Digital picture memories rock!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:01 PM on January 24 [14 favorites]


I've become enough of a Marie Kondo discourser online that that's my voice you hear doing the dramatic reading of this article (after making the article go ridiculously viral). I've written about xenophobia towards Marie Kondo and even wrote up a reflection of the first book from a queer marginalised perspective.

One thing that none of the discourse talks about, but which is pretty damn crucial to the process, is that you don't jump into the sorting process right away. The first step is to actually spend some thing thinking about your ideal life: what do you want to do with your space? It can be as elaborate or as simple as you want - the example in the manga version of this book (which is really good!!) has the lead character wishing she could just cook meals in the house. That process helps you hone your spark joy meter - now you know what to look for.
posted by divabat at 10:00 PM on January 24 [11 favorites]


Oh! As to touching clothes (or whatever) to figure out what sparks joy: I did this yesterday and I was very surprised to find that two of my clothes, which I actually liked, were screaming at me to be let go. I had them in the keep pile but then felt so bad about it that they're in the give away pile now. It's like they wanted to move on and fulfil their purpose elsewhere.
posted by divabat at 10:02 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


I've been slowly going through my stuff since mid last year, having been inspired by the "A Slob Comes Clean", and read "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying" in December. Both have had a profoundly positive impact on my life, and it can be frustrating to continuously read "hot takes" from people who haven't actually read the book. Especially as most of the criticisms are directly addressed in the book, or are just plain wrong.

The evangelism must be irritating to people, and it does feel like some of the nuance is lost in the translation to English, but the improvement in my quality of life from having a functional clothes storage/washing system is literally life changing. I can dress myself without feeling like a total loser. It's amazing.

Marie Kondo's take is particularly non-judgemental, and specifically addresses the emotional issues of getting rid of your things, without making you feel ashamed of those emotions. So when people imply that she's some sort of mean old super nanny, who thinks you are a terrible person for having lots of things, it feels a bit like they are kicking a puppy. Or they are sexist arseholes who don't think that housekeeping is important, because women do it for fun.
posted by kjs4 at 10:20 PM on January 24 [10 favorites]


Reading an ebook is materially different to reading a regular book, but listening to digitised music/watching digitised movies are no different from putting physical CDs/DVDs in a player. No-one reminisces about the feel of a CD or the smell of a DVD box. You can, theoretically, get rid of all your CDs/DVDs but still have all the music/films in digital form in one way or another.

Almost 100% the opposite for me (excepting the books where the design, illustration or photos are integral to them.)

Books I still read start to finish on an e-reader. However, "albums" (which used to be central to my listening experience) are no longer an integral part of listening to music. It's just songs unless I make an effort, which is acceptable but different. Also, no insert with the lyrics right by me if I'm just listening.

I get other people are different but the smell of a book for me was about as ephemeral as the click of a jewel box--slightly nostalgia inducing to think about but certainly not a part of the experience that actually improve things.

(Also, as my eyesight declines, I am exceptionally grateful to be able to use a format that I can fiddle with to make visible so I'm not dealing with reading glasses and a reading position that keeps the book at the right distance to be able to focus. I remember kind of sneering at the large print books the library carried when I was a teenage library page and boy am I glad I dodged the karma on that one.)
posted by mark k at 3:04 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


Love the show because it’s so real - neither the people nor the houses nor their effects are particularly spectacular.

I enjoy Marie also - she clearly feels her way through situations in a manner that is authentic and wholesome. It’s hard to describe except to say that it’s the exact opposite of “feelings” as is portrayed in most reality shows. She’s very grounded in self. Such a nice blend of head and heart.

And like a commenter above - I pre-de-clutter. My purchases are deliberate; does this truly spark joy or am I just taken up in the moment? Sometimes this leads to unreasonable purchase delays but oh well.

Another thing I like which my husband has been saying for years is, each thing needs it’s right spot. Im a “toss my shit everywhere” slob but having a place for things) instead of three different places for things) has helped so much in keeping the place a base level of tidy.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:50 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


I just had occasion to use a hammer and it sparked joy. I knew where it was! It did the thing! But mostly, hammers fit the hand and the hand is happy.
posted by clew at 5:11 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]


I just had occasion to use a hammer and it sparked joy. I knew where it was! It did the thing! But mostly, hammers fit the hand and the hand is happy.
posted by clew at 5:11 PM on January 26


So that must have been a clew hammer?
posted by gusottertrout at 5:33 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]


Tiding Up with Marie Kondo is Inadvertently About Women's Invisible Labor. Touches on the emotional labor part that we haven't discussed (much?) in the thread but really resonated with me when I read this article.

When I was “tidying,” the majority of the people I worked for were new moms, most of whom were still on maternity leave. The struggle was almost always the same—attempting to balance household tasks, while breastfeeding, while attempting to physically heal. As if gestating a human life, birthing it, mothering it alone—being alone, really—were not enough, there was also the task of acquiring, organizing, and maintaining every material item of consequence for yourself, your partner, and caring diligently for the tiny mammal your body just created.

There's more. Worth a read, IMHO.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:08 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


So I both:
1) Had the same immediate "how dare you" reaction to the idea that people should have fewer books
2) Am wildly amused by the performative status jockeying around people's public outrage

I actually read the book a few years ago and found it really useful. In my case, about 90% of the thousands of books I have do spark joy and therefore I kept them. I'm also honest with myself in that I have books that I know I probably won't read but like having around me. Books that I like having because of the possibilities they represent (I haven't lived in the Middle East for six years, do I really need three Arabic dictionaries?). You know what? Despite the fact that I didn't get rid of many books, the process of reviewing all my books, cataloguing them, really understanding why I wanted to keep them and writing myself a little review of all the books I was getting rid of and why I was getting rid of them was really useful.

For instance, I realised that I kept my physics textbooks despite finishing my masters in 2007 because I hadn't really ever processed my feelings about not doing a PhD. Once I realised that, they were easily donated (I can always buy them again if I need them).

I'm reminded of this comment from (11 years ago!) by Pastabagel. You can treat many common objects as commodities and the roundtrip costs of getting rid of the old one and then buying a new one if you need it later as basically storage costs.

What I did take away from her book was the idea of folding my socks though, my sock drawer is mad organised now.
posted by atrazine at 5:43 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


you guys I think I invented a new version of this tonight. Punkonmari, which is where you angrily decide to throw out a bunch of stuff that is infuriatingly in your way every time you look for something. Instead of thanking each item for it's service you say "fuck you for being useless and pissing me off" It's actually equally satisfying, and you still end up with tidy cupboards.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:32 AM on February 3 [14 favorites]


Spark the flames of joy!
posted by Artw at 7:53 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]




I went out to the shed today ready to do battle with the Matterhorn of mess that has transformed what's nominally an office and repair shop into a cramped and overstuffed storage facility for junk, but my attempt to konmari the hell out of it never got out of the starting gate. Essentially, the entire reason that the shed is stuffed to the gills is that all the things that have gone in there do spark joy. Considerable joy.

As I picked things up and considered them one by one I found myself increasingly paralyzed by an almost orgiastic appreciation for the potential that each one of those things has got for being useful in some way some day. You might as well ask a six year old to improve his life by turfing 95% of his Lego set.

I can conceptualize in a kind of abstract way how nice it would be for the table and the desktop in there to become visible and available for actually doing stuff on again, but I'm going to need a much less joy-based method for getting there if that's ever actually gonna happen.
posted by flabdablet at 5:40 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


But Marie Kondo doesn’t want to take away your shedload of joy! To frame the original satirical article, she doesn’t give a fuck about how many sheds full of shit you might have. But if you can’t use or find the things that give you joy because they’re too cramped and you can’t use the space in the way you want it to, the answer to that isn’t throw it all away, it’s to find a way to store and organize all the stuff you want to keep in a way that actually works. Like get two sheds? (I’m kidding, unless you have the money or space.)

Also, I certainly pick and choose what works for me from the KonMari method but it’s reductive to treat it like it’s only about taking away and only about joy in objects. It’s about gaining use and joy in using the things you own without feeling guilty or stressed about them.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 7:05 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


use and joy in using the things you own without feeling guilty or stressed about them

Well, I already have that. Desiring free working surfaces in addition is essentially just greedy.

This is the thing about hoarding tendencies that non-hoarders often don't seem to get. A non-hoarder like ms. flabdablet looks inside "my office", sees a huge pile of undifferentiated crap on every available and non-available surface, concludes that on balance I'd be happier if it were a more functional space, and keeps offering to help me tidy it up. I go in there and get little dopamine hits from just looking around at all the things: to me, it's an Aladdin's cave of potentiality.

The thing that's slightly worrying now, though, is that it no longer conforms to my primary organizing principle: that all the things should be visible and put near their friends. In the decade-ago process of ejecting my Shelves of Plenty from our bedroom and relegating them to the back room and then to the shed, much of their contents had to be tidied away into various kinds of container. Which means that there is now stuff I know is in there but can no longer find, and that's a bit distressing. Not a lot distressing, just a bit.

My Dad was the same way. There was a whole bedroom in the house I grew up in that we all called Dad's "study". It was damn near impossible to move in there. Mum loathed it. Dad loved it.

It's funny, this whole getting older and turning into our parents thing.
posted by flabdablet at 7:35 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Mmm, but if in fact there is no potentiality because there is no workspace, don't your dopamine hits thin out a bit? No?

Mine sure do, although that's partly because I am not naturally tidy but have somehow managed to be the most tidy person of four in an extended family that shares a barn/workshop. I can't see potential any more, I see a looming wave of stuff that is turning into garbage as we dither because almost nothing can actually be stored without maintenance.
posted by clew at 10:04 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


...if in fact there is no potentiality because there is no workspace, don't your dopamine hits thin out a bit? No?

Yes. And like any dopamine addict, I've been responding to that by increasing the rate of hits. Which has turned the thing into a vicious circle: I'm enjoying my things a little less, so I need to make up for that by collecting more of them, which occupies more space, which constrains the actual use of any of the things that much more, which thins out the hits, which makes me enjoy them a bit less, so I make up for that by collecting more potentially useful things...

What stops konmari from working for me, though, is that the immediate result of picking up and contemplating a thing before turfing it still causes that spark of joy at all its infinite potentialities, and the prospect of actually turfing it causes actual grief.

I've been waiting for ten years to get more joy from contemplating six square inches of newly freed bench space than I do from any of the things currently occupying that space, but this shows absolutely no sign of happening. Which is why, as I said above, I think I'm going to need a much less joy-based method for getting there if it's ever actually gonna happen. Something based on raw pragmatism and OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE STEPHEN is looking more like the right way forward.
posted by flabdablet at 10:46 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


I am not naturally tidy but have somehow managed to be the most tidy person of four in an extended family that shares a barn/workshop

Shared spaces are a whole different thing. I'm the most likely to come over all kitchen nazi of anybody in our house, for example. Leaving the shared spaces slightly tidier than they were when you walked into them just strikes me as an expression of basic respect for one's fellow dwellers.

The thing about the stuff in my shed is that it's all my stuff, which I put there because I like it. It's not stuff I need nor desire to share with anybody else; in fact just seeing other people go in there is cause for anxiety because I know full well that they're going to move something, making it far more difficult for me to find it when I want it. If I clean up in there it's going to give other people more of an incentive to invade that space and move my shit around, and knowing that also acts as a barrier to tidying it.

We pack-rat types have a keen sense of order that's generally not apparent to those we live with. What looks like mountains of garbage to most onlookers has a manifest internal logic to us: we keep stuff near its friends, and that is that. We order stuff keyed on what we understand it to be, not on what it's called or what shape or size or colour it is and so forth. Where a non-hoarder sees a precariously teetering mountain of random junk, the creating hoarder sees an evolving sculpture constructed from unadulterated usefulness.

Where this kind of worldview shades over into disorder, it seems to me, is when the person who holds it completely loses track of the undeniable fact that objects in and of themselves are not useful. The essence of usefulness lies in the relationship between an object and its user or potential user, and if one possesses more objects than one ever could use before going the way of all flesh, that's not actually very useful at all. It's kind of a nuisance that dopamine makes that kind of clarity difficult to retain in the moment.
posted by flabdablet at 11:26 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


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