Flat White

Bin Marie Kondo, not your memories

16 January 2019

6:09 PM

16 January 2019

6:09 PM

Marie Kondo and her ideology of ridding yourself of possessions, has caught the world by storm.

Yet, rather than bringing joy, this is a pathway only to the further debasement of society through destroying sensory experiences, shunning truly evocative memories, and creating this bleak, brutalist world of materialist utilitarianism where something is only as good as it’s material purpose, and nothing greater. And I am horrified by it.

Hidden beneath the jargon of “does this bring joy” is the underlying assumption that unless something is directly relevant, is directly pragmatically useful, then it can never bring joy and should be destroyed.

Yet things without a practical use can and do bring joy, and so they should.

Indeed in the same way that concepts like loyalty and love transcend material explanation, so to should our links with things be above brute utility.

And so often it is our possessions to bring back our memories, link us to the past, and provide us that link – that tangible link – to things that matter to us. And how important this should be to a society struggling with concepts like friendship like ours.

Our possessions are our memories. We appreciate them not just for what they are, but for what they represent and what they mean to us. Just seeing something from the past brings forth memories and experiences and emotions and that is why unless we want to live in a banal world of greyness we should appreciate and cherish it. And a possession is more than seeing something, we can feel it, we can touch it, it is a sensory experience. And we remember the experience, and it brings us close to those who were around us when it occurred.

There is beauty in the aesthetic, there is meaning and emotion in things that can not be quantified no matter their lack of physical purpose.

Beauty, meaning, art – all these things that truly spark actual true joy that you can not put a label on.

Our clothes for instance bring back memories how we wore them, the experiences we had. We see them and we are reminded of how we got them, when we wore them, and whta it meant to us. I refused to throw out a pair of jeans for over 20 years because – while unwearable – every time I saw them they reminded me of the happiest times of my teenage years. And I did not want to lose that memory ever.

We need to be reminded of our good times, and physical objects, things we can see and feel, do that. Like Proust and the madeleine, our senses respond to these things. Books on a shelf remind us when we look upon them of their lessons. Almost everything I have reminds me of a friend, of an experience, of a memory that brings me true joy.

There is an argument to be made in certain circumstances for divorcing yourself from material reality, and I respect those of course who take monastic vows. By freeing yourself from all desires there is a greater good there.

But for most people, this is downright damaging as you simply deny yourself the opportunity to connect with the memories of your past and draw strength from the joyful experiences there. If you do not have that tangible link to the past you will forget it.

Meaning in life for most of us is derived from things like friendship and beauty and experiences we love. Our possessions remind us of this. By depriving us from them, you deprive us of our humanity and turn us into mindless automatons.

We would never throw out the childhood drawings of our children as to what it means to both us and them. What sort of a monster would even suggest such a thing? Yet the principle is the exact same one. We need to treasure and embrace our memories and not simply cast them aside.

Marie Kondo is not only wrong. She is immoral. She is peddling an ideology that, by cutting people off from what actually gives meaning in life, and telling them to throw it in the bin, will cause lasting long term harm.

Don’t be a hoarder. But treasure your possessions because of the memories they bring.

Illustration: Facebook/KonMarieMethod.

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