On Mess

If you don’t already know, ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,’ starring the titular Japanese organizational icon who literally wrote the book on the subject, is the new Netflix show that is causing people to run to libraries, Goodwill stores, consignment shops and—while not Kondo-sanctioned—the Container Store, in an effort to rethink their household items and rid themselves of objects that don’t spark tokimeku, or joy... She’s not the first to do so... In the 19th century, the English word ‘mess’ evolved linguistically. As ethnologist Orvar Löfgren chronicles for the journal Consumption Markets & Culture, from its origin as ‘a place in which food was served, or a dish of (mixed) food,’ ‘mess’ acquired a more negative connotation, sliding from unsavory food concoctions to occupying a more figurative negative space in language, reaching ‘a condition of untidiness’ in 1851, before it ‘colonized new arenas: messy persons, messy homes or lives.’

Jacki Manski, “How America Tidied Up Before Marie Kondo,“ - smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/how-america-tidied-marie-kondo-180971239. As another academic year starts in Australia, I sometimes wonder if much could be abandoned upon asking the question, '“what brings joy.”

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