Clogging Clutter in the Corners


Viikko 32


Motion: THW boost the economy by having skips sent to alleys, avenues, streets and squares by the state
Role: Whip (govt.)
Date: Aug 12th, 2016

I read today about two women waging a debate on the pages of a women’s magazine (under the rubric of ”debate”) about whether a woman named Marie Kondo is already too popular for her own good in this country. What this means in practise is that she is urging people to throw away anything that they own if that something no longer brings them pleasure or is in use. To simplify, if you no longer read your own Donald Duck comix, chuck ’em in the ditch. If you no longer drink alcohol, throw what little you may have left in the gutter. In the debate, one woman defended the attitude, while the other was not entirely against it but mentioned how it has become ”like a middle-class religion” and how material possessions actually give us comfort and joy when administered well in the right context.

The funny thing was that in the aforementioned women’s debate, the younger woman (at 32) was defending more the right to own ”s**t”, or, let’s call it ”stuff”. One might have guessed that it would have been the other way round. The explaining factor was possibly that the younger one was also a blogger, writing a Blog, whereby she receives shipments from different kinds of cloth or accessory manufacturers in the hopes that she’ll mention or review them on her blog. As she has become a ”victim” of ”free stuff”, it’s understandably harder for her to say no to all that free stuff. It’s also a part of her professional identity, and that is hard to shed as we all know.

What should be said about that? Should we dig into the history of not owning stuff?

If we look into the history of the matter, I’d say that we discover two avantgarde groups who have disowned stuff in the past. One group is those with a theological mindset. Religious people in the course of history (Reformist Christians, Greek and Roman Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus) have often owned very little, being cloistered away in monasteries and convents as monks and nuns and their superordinates. In their view, possessions of the earthly kind pale in comparison with possessions of the heavenly kind. Peace of mind is more important than a 3-piece suit. The book of souls is more important than books and soles. Maybe they were onto something. We don’t know. Posterity has not had a chance to chat with those who have gone into the beyond, with or without a religious badge on their lapel.

Another group that has been leery of stuff is what I’d term the ”advanced bourgeoisie”. The ideology of these people is to live in a minimalist way, buying only the best products available at high-end prices and buying only what they need. They may own only 5 shirts, one computer, three pairs of shoes, a Japanese kitchen knife, a blender, an espresso machine etc. etc. etc. In the end, one may end up owning quite many commodities that could be termed ”luxury”, but the idea is nevertheless to reduce the amount of stuff to a manageable cupboardful by raising its quality price-wise and lopping off all the rambling accessories that a self-focussed urban professional does not need.  These people use money in a way that tries to retain as much of its value as possible both on the bank account and at home.

What unites the two avant-guard groups is that of course both tend to be single in their most textbookesque incarnations. It’s so much easier to be without stuff when one is without children as well.

I would say that in spite of some of their slightly ”misanthropic” qualities these two groups are fundamentally right. You don’t need stuff. You can do without it. I know it deep down when I’m staring at the wall, without any toys, gadgets and joys, and feeling uniquely focussed and unbored. I don’t long to live inside of a prison (where the stimuli are minimal, thin on the ground, so to speak) but I’m actually longing to live inside a cell of an apartment as long as I can go out as well to enjoy the freedom of the (sub)urban community around me. This brings us around to the insight that maybe after all, even though it’s a cliché, the real riches are human relationships and collectivity.

I would say that you should aim for the stuff-free Life. Think of it as the extension of your personal mobility. It would enable you to change cities, condos, countries and continents. One thing is the fact that you are probably carrying around a mobile phone, erm…, that’s the old term; the new term must be the smartphone. Now, if you’re so smart that you are carrying a smartphone, why should you be so unsmart as to let your belongings weigh down your personal freedom when your smartphone is trying to give you as much of it as (humanly) possible? There would be a contradiction there.

Thank you.

Puheen kesto: 6 min 24 sek
Arvio (whip)puheena: * * (* * ½). Puhe onnistuu vangitsemaan kuulijansa mielenkiinnon napakalla aloituksellaan, joka on napattu mediasta. Hyvillä jaotteluilla eteenpäin menemällä se pääsee johdattelevaan lopputulokseensa. Sinällään hieno puhe kärsii loppupuheenvuorona siitä, ettei siinä ole viittauksia oman puolen aiempiin kannanottoihin tai vastapuolen torjuntoja. Siksi se sopisi parhaiten jommaksikummaksi aloitusparin puheeksi. Näiden voidaan kuitenkin olettaa käsittelevän aloitteen roskalava- ja valtio-sanojen tuomia mielleyhtymiä ensisijaisesti (aloitteita usein tulkitaan sana kerrallaan), joten whip-puheena tämä ei olisi summaava vaan soveltava ja pyrkisi tuomaan esiin yhtä otsikon mukaista näkökantaa. Sellaisenkin whip-puhesuorituksen voi kirjoittaa, jos ei jaksa olla ”kunnon” whip.



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