I like to keep things tidy. My room has, over the years of it's transformation, been titled 'austere', 'monastic', 'sparse' and 'ugly'. Tidiness os one of those odd virtues which isn't a virtue at all. The whole purpose is to make life easier, more efficient. To quote Buckaroo Banzai "Wherever you go, there you are." I want to apply that principle to my stuff.
I own more stuff than greets the eye. Some of my stuff is in Pacifica, California. Some is in Boston, and some is still in Colorado. After a while You just don't need to carry as much stuff around with you. I could bring five posters, but three will do quite nicely.
George Carlin's best bit, in my opinion, is on losing things. Tidiness is the counter-artillerey against losing things. Yet sometimes things still get lost, as happened with my copy of 'The Oresteia', the cycle of revenge of the house of Atreus in three parts by Aeschylus. I'm not a big fan, but it was my personal copy that I think was stolen. But Carlin warns me:
"You know how some people thier first reaction is 'Who stole it? It's gone: Who stole it?' It's an ego defence. They can't handle the fact that they might have been stupid enough to lose something, even if it's something no one really wants.
'Hey. Hey! Who stole my toenail collection? And they also got away with my nude photos of Ernest Borgnine!'"
I have no idea why anyone would want to steal the Oresteia, but whatever. I left it in public, scoured the area after it disappeared, and have given up on it. If they really want to read a crappy translation of a meh play, they can. After all, we live in an age where people are more important than things.
Getting back to tidiness. Tidiness is a mindset, I realized, instead of a virtue. I'm not just a tidy room keeper. I like to keep life, in general, kinda tidy. My inbox in my email. I always try to empty and archive it in the appropriate folder. And yet...
I realized that there has been, for over a year last Monday, a message rotting in my inbox. There's nothing to keep it company, it just sits there. Sadly it's a message I sent to myself: a link to some scientific papers by Hans Dreisch I'm interested in. I keep it in the inbox as a reminder that I should read it.
So my inbox is not optimally tidy. There is a quirk in the plan, this little defiant message. I tried to archive it in Gmail once, but throughout the day could picture it alone in the sea of other emails, unread and unloved. When I got back I restored it to it's rightful home in my inbox. Who knows how long it will live there. Perhaps it'll never be read, it will play the part of sentinal, and doorman, greeting the new emails as they arrive, encouraging them to chin up as they are archived in the sea of thousands of lost emails that constitute my account. It is defiant, a symbol, it has taken on meaning of it's own, nothing can stop it, it is the wilderness of the autumn of our lives, rage, rage against the dying of the light! Booorn freeeee...!
You know what else is untidy about my life? Cheese dip. That nasty 'con queso' salsa chese dip that has MSG and hosts of other crap. Here am I, trying to eat healthy, usually organic, vegetarian. But that stuff tastes so good, it is my vice.
But let's not discuss vices here. If tidiness is not a virtue than the inconsistency of my eating habits cannot be vices. Things here require that I go and prepare for class. The slef-same class for which I'm reading the Orestiea. And look! There it is, right where I left it! On top of the other ancient greek texts.
I'll return it to the library this weekend.