Monday, February 08, 2016





Chortle if you will but I've been 'decluttering' (auto correct throws up 'de littering') using the Marie Kondo method. Yes, the book reads like the confessions of an OCD sufferer - is it, in fact, properly shelved under Self Therapy? However, there are some nuggets of truth in amongst the pages & it acts as a timely boot in the backside to knuckle down & decide what, really & truly, do I need?

For all the hype, the KonMari method is not so startlingly original. If Shintoism inculcates an awareness of the spirit within trees & rocks it is not such a far stretch to suggest that your socks might have a life of their own. (There's a section where MK reminds her reader that socks need to breathe & relax at the end of a day walking around. Loopy? Or 'in tune'? You decide.) Thus, don't roll them into balls but fold gently into three. QED.

Ultimately, the purpose is to declutter your mind space & that's not stupid at all. To what extent are our daily thoughts & actions weighed down with all sorts of baggage (psychological & physical) accumulated over the years?

Anyway, in concrete terms this has meant a major clear out of the wardrobe - shirts, trousers, socks, etc.. The KonMari operating principle: does it spark joy? That little formula solves many dilemmas.

Having tackled clothes I then went upstairs & faced the real enemy - the archive of CDs, books, papers ... you name it. Too much for one day, I have decided to take it in instalments. Thus, yesterday morning, pens & other art materials. It was astonishing how much could either be chucked or organised into more economical space. (&, of course, in the process ideas arise through the rediscovery of an interesting Japanese paper or pages of jottings that had gone astray).

In the afternoon I looked at the books & the usual worries returned: might I need this for teaching? Who gave it to me? Isn't this valuable? What if I decided to read X one day ...? Tricky. However, the 'joy spark' mantra helped & into the pile went many volumes that had just sat there doing nothing. Those 'on the off chance' finds that I had never got around to. Even - & this is tough to admit - my Jack Trevor Story collection (dog-eared paperbacks, hard-to-find pulp stories, one or two hard backs). Had I read any after the first flush of enthusiasm? No. Was I ever going to find a dealer or collector who would pay hundreds for a rare edition? No. & if I were really honest didn't I value the JTS of the journalistic pieces more than his novels? Yes. & so the problem solved itself: ditch the fiction & keep Letters to an Intimate Stranger & the biography (Romantic Egoist) I found that day in Bath. Metonymy rules.

So this morning it was off to Pele Mele down in Waterloo & the Nijinsky bookshop in Brussels. I know in advance that the amount I'll be offered is a pittance compared to what even one or two items might fetch with the right person. However, that's the price one pays for focus. & perhaps in the grander scheme of things someone will stumble upon the very book which they need at that moment (much as I have time & time again).

Still to be addressed: some six years' worth of LRBs & - gulp - twenty years of The Wire. Seriously, if anyone wants The Wires then let me know.


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