The broom of doom

Cleaning is supposed to be positive. At least, that’s what you’d think, if you listened to radio or television, or read newspapers. There are numerous books – seen as ‘self-help’ manuals, in the pathologisation of uncleanliness via psychology – which advise one on how to remove possessions from one’s house, first using a magical spell. The spell is a question about whether the object one picks up is useful or important, but this will always be answered in the positive by a hoarder! There are programmes about hoarders, who are seen as mentally ill, and whose houses require the attention of semi-professional cleansing celebrities, who express sympathy as they help the criminal to accept the trauma of destroying their possessions. . The filth of their living spaces is clearly seen as an adjunct to their collecting – it is certainly not their conscious intention to create it, but it builds up incrementally and incessantly as more and more surfaces become inaccessible to the brush and dustpan, the feather duster, the damp cloth. As more and more space is created, and surfaces are revealed, the general philosophical impression conveyed from these programmes is that order is being created out of chaos. Of course, to the hoarder themselves, the new situation is probably one of unimaginable and existential chaos, as they are now totally out of control of the position or even existence of thousands and thousands of materials. These previously sat in known locations, according to obscure or even semi-forgotten systems of categorisation, awaiting the day when they might become useful or simply effective – for the purposes of nostalgia, reflection, or memory. These are important aspects of being human too. Is it really for the high priests of minimalism or cleanliness to consign them too to the dustbin?

Prompteed by The Broom of Doom

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