Totally pure credit card bills this year
November 19, 2019 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Got your space all decluttered? Got rid of your unneeded and spiritually failing junk, and ready to spark some joy with all-new gear such as a fab tuning fork and striking crystal? Fear not: Kon Mari has got you covered.
posted by thelonius (51 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
that guardian article is savage - it sparks me joy
posted by lalochezia at 11:33 AM on November 19, 2019 [17 favorites]


Ah, so she was playing the long game all this time: "Throw all your stuff away so I can sell you new stuff."

Very clever...
posted by spilon at 11:44 AM on November 19, 2019 [19 favorites]


In fairness, tuning forks do sound very nice.
posted by thelonius at 11:46 AM on November 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


I still keep one in my guitar case although these days I have a tuner in my phone. I never knew people used tuning forks for anything besides tuning instruments though.
posted by Daily Alice at 11:48 AM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


[Quick note: previous threads on Marie Kondo or KonMari have sometimes spread from general anti-pop-lifestyle-trend snark, over to badness: overgenerally bashing her method which ends up bashing some real Shinto spiritual practices, or exoticizing/orientalizing her or Japan (or the everpresent third flip side: speaking authoritatively negatively about a book you haven't read). Point is, this isn't exactly the same thing as white Americans or Anglosphere people snarking about Gwyneth Paltrow. If you don't have a Japan connection yourself, please take extra care in choosing how you participate in this.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:52 AM on November 19, 2019 [56 favorites]


Ah, thanks, LM. If this whole thing is too problematic to be here, I understand of course. Perhaps I should have thought this through better.
posted by thelonius at 11:54 AM on November 19, 2019


My therapist has me start each session by tapping a tuning fork on a crystal and deep breathing. It really is a very soothing sound.
posted by ilovewinter at 12:04 PM on November 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Having a tuning fork around to use as a little self-calming ritual sounds pretty nice, actually. Or as a way of creating a bit of ceremony I could use at home. I mean, I don't want to pay $50 for one, but the basic concept seems nice.
posted by aka burlap at 12:16 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


The price point's as offensive as anything else. I can see the purpose of some of these things, but a rose quartz crystal ("for reiki", ugh) on Amazon is $11.99 and a tuning fork is $9.99. Kondo shouldn't have to bottom-barrel to compete with Amazon, but $75 for the pair is a huge markup compared to $22.

I definitely think there's merit to her selling some things (kind of surprised she hasn't cross-marketed with The Container Store yet!), but the pricing on her stuff (and Goop) is as offensive as the offerings themselves.
posted by explosion at 12:26 PM on November 19, 2019 [17 favorites]


The dark skeptic in me wants some dedicated investigative journalist to drop everything and find out the history of her use of tuning forks.

I'm kinda on explosions page though-- Surrounding yourself with things and people you love seems like a reasonable way to live life, curating and selling those things seems like a smart progression.

Plus, think of the beauty she can surround herself with, now she's selling that $12 4096 Hz tuning fork for $50 :)
posted by Static Vagabond at 12:45 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


The engraving on that tuning fork doesn't look that great -- I would expect better for $50.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:57 PM on November 19, 2019


Mods: please take extra care participating here

Me, a wise skeptic: well,
posted by ominous_paws at 12:58 PM on November 19, 2019 [29 favorites]


Different context, but I once had a free acupuncture session at my gym - my sinuses were acting up - and the lady doing it got a tuning fork out. Felt great on my sinuses. Did not feel great when she dropped it on my eyeball because she was "really feeling it." So 50/50 on soothing in my tuning fork experience.
posted by cobaltnine at 1:07 PM on November 19, 2019 [42 favorites]


The pricing would seem to support my feeling that throwing out all your stuff is a hobby of rather rich people. The idea that stuff should evoke some ‘Joy’ beyond utility has always stuck me as a very privileged perspective, no matter where you live.
posted by SaltySalticid at 1:08 PM on November 19, 2019 [13 favorites]


It's not about stuff having joy _beyond_ utility, it's about finding joy and reverence in things including utility. Thats where all the stuff about thanking an item for its service comes in. This is fairly standard Japanese thinking (not everyone, of course, but not rare). My wife does the "thank an object" thing since way before Kondo (one reason she is less popular in Japan is this stuff is not really new). The idea that every object has a spirit is one that is not so common in the West, but is fundamental elsewhere.
posted by thefoxgod at 1:31 PM on November 19, 2019 [28 favorites]


I would expect to pay a lot more for stuff that was meant to be special, was well made, and ethically sourced and produced, and then I would plan on keeping it forever. When I went to the konmari website/store, I expected to see a rationale for the sale of the items that included a production backstory. I didn’t see it.
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:32 PM on November 19, 2019 [7 favorites]


"Sparking joy" was always an inexact translation, and the KonMari method has plenty of utility for the poor, as folks who are poor are often more in need of space.

It's useful to be able to let go of things. Those pants that don't really fit well anymore and you're holding onto just in case? It's just about being honest and saying, "no, you don't have the time or money to get them tailored."

"Get rid of it, if it's really needed you can buy a new one" is a rich person mindset. But "keep it just in case" is a trap that I'm still working on training out of myself even though I'm no longer poor.

The essentials (toilet paper) were always exempt from the "sparking joy" criteria. Asking if you need something or if it's just taking up space and making you miserable is something anyone can ask themself.
posted by explosion at 1:33 PM on November 19, 2019 [42 favorites]


reverence in things including utility
Ah, thanks, I can get behind that, though that part doesn’t often make it into what I’ve seen in this.

It is true a nice tuning fork is useful and can last a lifetime of two, so maybe it’s worth spending a lot on.
posted by SaltySalticid at 1:36 PM on November 19, 2019


Bugger tuning forks. The price/performance ratio is just way too low, even on the Kondo ones. I'ma spark my joy by paying more for a volume control than I did for my car.
posted by flabdablet at 1:47 PM on November 19, 2019


she's selling that $12 4096 Hz tuning fork for $50

Looking at the keywords in the title of related listing really tells you about what's currently hot in the capitalist "wellness" industry.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:58 PM on November 19, 2019


I think there are a couple issues with all this.

First, there's the sort of basic Japanese / Buddhist / Shinto thinking behind a lot of it, including things like danshari. This is the basis behind what Kondo is writing about / pushing, and is not aimed at rich people at all. After all, a lot of people in Japan live in apartments that are incredibly small (my wife's apartment in Japan was 120 sq ft / 11 sq m), so not accumulating stuff is important.

But then there's the fact that Kondo is running a business and trying to make money. So you start with the book, but now she's selling stuff and so on. Nothing particularly wrong with that, but at that point I think there are potentially separate criticisms of her that are specific to that business and not about the underlying ideals.

However, I do think people run into problems when they try and separate the spirituality from the rest of her book/message/whatever. Some of it just doesn't work as well without that thinking.

Example: one thing I hear a lot is people saying that even if they get rid of stuff, they'll just buy more later. But this is where the "thanking an object" / feeling sad about getting rid of something comes in. My wife hates to buy anything she doesn't really have to, because she doesn't want to have to throw things away. In other words, while having too much stuff can be a problem, getting rid of stuff is not free of guilt. This is the built-in mechanism to keep it from being a constantly rotating collection of stuff. But this is deeply connected to the spiritual aspect, and its hard for many people to think of their socks or kitchen gadget as having feelings.

[I'd be curious how much Kondo herself knows/thinks about this issue. I assume she is also steeped in some of the same basic thinking, although by now she has spent a lot of time overseas / traveling / talking with people who don't share that belief. So I don't know to what extent she's thought about the disconnect.]

This also means that for rich people, the answer is not "throw everything away and buy it again if you need", but "buy high quality things that will last and do a good job so you won't want to throw them away, and don't buy too much". I say for rich people because this leads into the Sam Vimes boot theory of socioeconomic unfairness, meaning this option is not available to everyone.
posted by thefoxgod at 1:59 PM on November 19, 2019 [21 favorites]


fyi, any fellow "The Fantastic Journey" enthusiasts: move along, nothing to see here.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:34 PM on November 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


When poor rural Quebecers moved to Montreal in the first half of the 20th century, they would bring a lot of stuff with them, "just in case", and so there are often small hangars built in the back of apartment blocks. They block the Sun in long and thin apartments that have windows only in the front and the back.

In the grim darkness of the far present, the Adeptus Mechanicus ask: make sure to appease the Machine Spirit before throwing your toaster away.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 2:38 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


I love tuning forks — though for some reason I've never had the impulse to buy one — particularly because if you look at them closely after striking one, you might notice that the two tines are passing the vibration which generates the sound back and forth between them, so that when one is vibrating most strongly, the other is completely still.

This must say something significant about resonating systems in general, but I don't know what.
posted by jamjam at 3:13 PM on November 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


Do you have Vampires in your house?
That don't spark joy?
Let Marie Condo help you totally declutter those Vampires.

These sticks are out of stock...I guess Marie has been doing a lot of slaying recently.
posted by Dr Ew at 3:13 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


you know, you can whack a tuning fork against the table as well.
posted by valkane at 3:58 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


If you buy one of every item in her store it totals $8,478.95 by my math (not including taxes and shipping) - so now you know the magic number for happiness
posted by inflatablekiwi at 4:19 PM on November 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


I saw those colorful tins in a store recently and tried to pick one up and they all fell over and the lids fell off. I don't know what that says about me or them but I thought I would provide this firsthand info.
posted by Emmy Rae at 4:25 PM on November 19, 2019


[Couple comments removed; y'all know better than to try to come back to a thread to comment to beef about your comments being deleted.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:42 PM on November 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


I love tuning forks — though for some reason I've never had the impulse to buy one — particularly because if you look at them closely after striking one, you might notice that the two tines are passing the vibration which generates the sound back and forth between them, so that when one is vibrating most strongly, the other is completely still.

Cool ! This is also neat. I learned this from a book about digital signal processing, "A Digital Signal Processing Primer", by Ken Steiglitz. I'm going to try to give a simplified paraphrase. You hit a tine of a tuning fork. What equation describes its motion? The restorative force that pulls it back to its original position is greatest when the tine is farthest displaced: the restorative force is proportional to its displacement. So F = -kx.

Now F = ma. So ma = -kx, and the acceleration on the fork, a, is given by -kx/m. Now, as the kids used to say, here comes the science bit! What is acceleration? It is the second derivative of position. We want a function that is proportional to its second derivative; furthermore, its proportionality constant should be negative.

And it turns out that sin x and cos x fit the bill: the first derivative of sin x is cos x, and the first derivative of cos x is -sin x. So either sin x or cos x fit our equation.

The simplification is mostly that this derivation is done in terms of sin (ωt), where ω is the frequency of the sinusoid and t is time. What that cashes out to is that the frequency of the tuning fork, ω, is the square root of k/m. Steiglitz continues to connect this to its physical meaning. The larger the mass, m, the lower the frequency. And experience confirms that larger, more massive objects vibrate more slowly - consider piano strings. And the larger the restoring force constant, k, the higher the frequency. A larger k is a stiffer tine, which is analogous to a more tightly stretched string, and we can see that tightening a stretched string raises its pitch.

I wish I had had teachers in school who presented such a wonderful explanation!
posted by thelonius at 4:44 PM on November 19, 2019 [14 favorites]


(If I mangled that completely, it turns out you can find the whole text at archive.org; it's right at the beginning, pages 2-5)
posted by thelonius at 4:52 PM on November 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Remember, the number one pleasure of Internet Americans is to point a finger at someone and scream "GOTCHA! I KNEW IT!"

So it is indeed wonderful that this thread is sparking such joy.
posted by happyroach at 5:30 PM on November 19, 2019 [11 favorites]


As a modestly bougie person it seems good to me to get my useless shit in the hands of people who can use it, while it's still usable, and not hoard rooms people can live in to store it. Sure, Kondo may not be for poor people, that doesn't mean her way is useless overall.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:40 PM on November 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


If I were to buy a tuning fork, in the UK, I'd probably get it from Raggs.

Also..
a is the second derivative of position, x; it can be written x''. We get:
x'' = -kx/m

Going along with the suggestion of cos ωt:
x = cos ωt
x' = -ωsin ωt
x'' = -ω2cos ωt

Substituting:
-ω2cos ωt = -k(cos ωt)/m

Simplifying:
-ω2 = -k/m
ω = sqrt(k/m)

With ω = 2πf
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:20 PM on November 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


I was once sweeping sine waves with headphones on and found a frequency that caused a really weird tickle followed by me being able to hear better out of my left ear. I apparently found the appropriate resonant frequency to not just dislodge a ton of accumulated ear wax all at once, but actually make it vacate my ear canal on its own. I would happily spend this particular asking price for a tuning fork if it was calibrated specifically to do this.
posted by MysticMCJ at 7:41 PM on November 19, 2019 [18 favorites]


Marie Kondo is in business to make money. I don’t think her products are particularly interesting or worth their price, but others might like this stuff. Criticizing her is not racist. How much does it cost to be a certified consultant?
posted by Ideefixe at 8:39 PM on November 19, 2019 [4 favorites]


I've had multiple assessments by neurologists on me and various smallish people for weird ailments, and they use a tuning fork for assessing hearing and also tactile loss. It's a little weird the first time because you expect them to start waving crystals next, but it does make a pleasant sound. They just whack it against a table or their hand though, not a rose quartz.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:02 PM on November 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


if you look at them closely after striking one, you might notice that the two tines are passing the vibration which generates the sound back and forth between them, so that when one is vibrating most strongly, the other is completely still.

That strikes me as an indication that the two tines on the fork you're looking at are tuned to almost but not quite identical frequencies.

If it's a fork you're not actually using to tune stuff from, you might care to experiment with touching up the end of one of the tines with a bit of sandpaper and see if you can change the rate at which you see the vibration maxima pass between them.
posted by flabdablet at 12:50 AM on November 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Marie Kondo is selling $86 aromatherapy candles and $98 water bottles that "infuse the powers of gemstones into water while restoring it to a more pure state". The fact that some of her methods borrow from actual Shinto religious practices is not a defense against the fact that she is definitely peddling bullshit as well.

And, like, look at her Japanese dinner party article. LobsterMitten starts the thread by warning folks against "exoticizing/orientalizing her or Japan" but that is exactly what Marie Kondo herself is encouraging here. This article/video is aimed at bougie white people who suffer from a dearth of connection and ritual, to sell them a $180 clay pot and $68 dinner plates.
posted by JDHarper at 1:46 AM on November 20, 2019 [14 favorites]


Energy chimes (or "zenergy" chimes) are basically the same thing, but cheaper and easier to use. It comes with a small striker and is twelve bucks or so.

A tuning fork should be struck on one's knee, ideally. Something hard and soft. (Not a table! Not a crystal!)

There is a reason spiritual experiences are often associated with sound: its immediacy, in short.

A nice mini-meditation is to listen to the sound of the chime as it fades into silence. Listening into silence. Crystals...well, they're pretty, but someone else will have to make the case for their use in spiritual practice.
posted by kozad at 5:51 AM on November 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


It's always weird to encounter "off-label" uses for gear you use regularly. Tuning forks are precise instruments with practical uses. They aren't like tarot cards or crystal balls. Next we'll see people selling $100 pitch-pipes to "attune to the spirit world".
posted by domo at 6:03 AM on November 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


To be fair, the spirits hate it when you chant flat.
posted by flabdablet at 7:11 AM on November 20, 2019 [11 favorites]


Tuning forks are precise instruments with practical uses. They aren't like tarot cards or crystal balls.

Hoo boy. Browsing Amazon, there are many with descriptions like

"Works with your energy field via sympathetic resonance to help you resonate with your true authentic self ~ Assists you in using your intuition and helps quiet the voices of the world ~ The four precisely tuned copper layers, contain hundreds of sacred geometry harmonic copper elements that bring you into harmony with self ~ Each intricate layer works in harmony with the other three layers and your magnetic field to balance and transform your energy"

...and I had some difficulty getting it to return results for ones made to tune to.
posted by thelonius at 7:20 AM on November 20, 2019


This one you can play by belting it with a large rubber mallet sparks a fair bit of joy in me.

I AM TRANQUIL, HEAR ME ROAR
posted by flabdablet at 7:40 AM on November 20, 2019


M,sM: [I'd be curious how much Kondo herself knows/thinks about this issue.

If her first book is anything to go by, obsessively. I was left with the impression that she's taken a healthy, sensible approach to simplifying your life with Shinto overtones and turned it into a pathological state. She says she spends a large part of every day thinking about what else she can throw out, and that's after 30 years of obsessing. Also, she might be messing with you. What good is celebrity if you can't have your own Goop-flavoured website?
posted by sneebler at 12:35 PM on November 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm still gonna recommend the manga version of Kondo's first book, it's delightful. (Real book's useful too, but not nearly as fun.)

Next we'll see people selling $100 pitch-pipes to "attune to the spirit world".

... do you think it'd work? Either for attuning or for marketing purposes? How about metronomes?
posted by asperity at 12:58 PM on November 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


I am a bit puzzled by the hostility towards Kondo I see in English-language forums.

I read the Korean translation of her first book, and found her to be quite humble, and lacking the preciousness attributed to her. This makes me wonder if something was lost or altered when Kondo was translated into English - could somebody who's read Kondo in the original Japanese and in English chime in?

The gist of her advice in the Korean translation is not to think in terms of throwing away things, but only keeping those items that "make you flutter inside" (the word used also has connotation of looking forward to, for example looking forward to going on a trip) - trust me, in Korean it sounds down-to-earth and not precious like the phrase "spark joy". If you have a lot of clutter because you just hold on to everything without consciously thinking about it, then only keeping those items that evoke those positive feelings can be a selection criterion.
posted by needled at 1:29 PM on November 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


The Cat Pouch must spark a lot of joy; it’s sold out.
posted by elphaba at 1:51 PM on November 20, 2019


A profile by FastCompany ties the expansion of Marie Kondo's brand to goop's lifestyle empire.


Kondo’s husband became the CEO of KonMari Media LLC in 2015. He’s been behind the scenes, helping her land book deals and produce her Netflix show. Now, Kawahara is helping to drive this new direction into online retail. “I don’t know if my husband and I have a clear division of labor,” Kondo says. “But we always have discussions about where we want to take our company. I’m good at expressing the philosophy and thoughts behind my method and my husband is extremely adept at the business strategy. It’s important for us that we never lose sight of our mission, which is whether or not the next step we take is sparking joy for us.”

“I’m not saying the fewer things you have, the better,” Kondo explains. “The emphasis is more on whether you are savoring the love you have for your belongings and taking the time to care for them. If you have a huge house with ample storage, it’s perfectly natural to have a lot of things.”
posted by toastyk at 2:14 PM on November 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'm happy to see that none of the items are obviously branded. My biggest takeaway from her book--after how to fold a shirt!--was to switch branded items out for unbranded items whenever possible. For instance, buying soap concentrate packets and putting it in a container rather than having a bottle of Dove visible on your counter. It made me realize how even in my most private spaces, like the bathroom, I am staring at 50 different mini-ads for corporations.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:33 AM on November 21, 2019 [10 favorites]


I am a bit puzzled by the hostility towards Kondo I see in English-language forums.


She's non-white, and she's a woman. Any other given reason is just obfuscation.

By way of comparison, look at all the articles here taking to task white men engaged in selling spiritual/meditation items.
posted by happyroach at 1:42 PM on November 21, 2019


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