Last year saw a significant spring clean shift in our house. Marie Kondo played a prominent part in that. The idea that one can – “should” – reduce the amount of tat in one’s life spoke to many feeling burdened by material accumulation. We have been conditioned to want and get and keep stuff. Kondo’s notion of making room only for things that inspire joy was a useful starting point for me. Treating the items you do have and need with greater reverence… my clothes now sit in neat and ordered rows, rolled snug, and nestling proudly in their drawers. It does feel better.

Backlash occurred, as it does. Some rejecting KonMari express resentment at the idea that they might be hoarding now redundant signifiers rather than curating a challenging collection of something or other. Mainly booklovers, that.

What about things that don’t spark joy, but are needed? And what is ‘joy’, anyway? It’s always sensible to question terms of reference… I didn’t quite get the book aspect finished.

Backlash following backlash, maximalism is the new minimalism is the new maximalism. Inhale, exhale. The seasonal cycle of must haves and must get rids. Yeah, Marie Kondo selling stuff for you to have in your newly-decluttered living spaces was a hilarious, eye-rolling, predictable outcome. For me, I’d just dug the basic idea and gone with it. There was no feeling of personal betrayal (“Just for a handful of silver she left us… just for a tuning fork rose quartz crystal!”). Everyone’s got a gig of some sort. A Marie Kondo catalogue existing is not an idea that negates the one about getting rid of shit you don’t really need.

Still, if KonMari Method is tainted goods now, other brands are available. Döstädning! This popped up in my timeline today, for some reason I can’t quite place… Well, here we are in March 2020, and many people are confronting their own mortality, and the fragility of our personal ecosystems. This Scandi version seems on message for decluttering in a plague era. Getting rid of shit you don’t really need with a pine box veneer of northern European pragmatism, a found in translation term. KonMari with added morbidity.

Today, we were contemplating being stuck in the house for indeterminate lengths of time. Thoughts returned to what’s on the shelves, what’s defining us with its presence. Associated notions of cocooning… what species of lepidoptera might unfurl its wings from such matter?

Do books make life worth living? For sure, but all these specific volumes?

Just one of five bookcases too. In the UK, outside, while not yet fully sprung, spring – time traditionally associated with cleaning – is uncoiling. Blossom. The leaves are out on the elder. And you cannot take any of it with you.

“We need to start articulating our utopias, articulating what needs to be burned and what needs to be saved.”

Shabaka Hutchings, NY Times interview