KonMari-ing the Confederacy’s Son

[NB: Check the byline — this is a different kind of ‘trash talk’. /~Rayne]

You may already have heard the buzz about Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo and her branded decluttering technique, KonMari. Perhaps you’ve even seen her on Netflix which now features a series called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

She set off a furor across the internet among book lovers when she suggested getting rid of all of one’s books except for those few that spark joy — which is her guiding philosophy to thinning everything one possesses. When one considers a particular personal belonging, what feelings does it inspire? If joy, keep it and store it carefully; if not, release it.

This doesn’t work for books. Some of the most horror-inspiring books may be essential favorites whether fiction or non-fiction. And many book lovers whether readers, authors, or editors thrive in an environment of tsundoku, the weight of unread books providing a wealth of promise rather than oppressive dread.

The hullabaloo about her approach to books forced a reconsideration of the KonMari technique. It doesn’t work uniformly for everyone; what sparks joy for one rouses sadness in others.

But people do share universal values; if we focused on happiness and peace arising from observing these values, there might be a way to reconcile the disparity between ditching books and keeping them whether they spark joy or not.

Looking at our universal values — those we share as humans regardless of our gender identity, race and ethnicity, religious heritage, or country of origin — we have to ask ourselves about much more than whether to keep the tatty high school-issued copy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or well-thumbed Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine.

What is it we should jettison if we are truly keeping that which is honest and trustworthy, responsible, respectful, caring, and fair?

Why worry about an excess of books and holey stray socks when our lives are thrown into chaos every day by people who are not living these shared values?

It could be said the repudiation of Governor Ralph Northam is an example of this kind of purging by Democrats in Virginia and beyond. Has Northam changed since the mid-1980s? Sure — we all have and hopefully for the better, but Northam’s failure to be open as a candidate and now as an elected official about the context of his medical school’s yearbook is a lapse of under universal ethics even if we believed his claims.

Now the people of Virginia wait for Northam to come to grips with the sorting he’s been through.

But as a country we’re not done with our reassessment. What are we keeping that holds us back from realizing our best selves as citizens?

A substantive number of readers will surely suggest impeaching and removing Trump and they’d be right. He’s the antithesis of  honesty and trustworthiness, responsibility, respect, caring, and fairness in nearly everything he does. Decluttering processes have already been set in motion — the Special Counsel’s Office plays a role in them even if its mission isn’t removal per se.

Trump isn’t the only human obstruction to realizing our communal universal values, though.

This needs to go. This should have been KonMari’d more than a dozen years ago, pared out of government. Don’t even think about trying to recycle it, either, it’s beyond redemption. The tradition manifest here has no worth because it disrespects the innate value of fellow humans while elevating a small number of people because of that disrespect.

Kentuckians need to clean their house beginning with this Senate seat. McConnell can’t possibly inspire happiness and peace in their hearts when his actions deny so many their human dignity.

Republicans should do likewise, beginning now with removing McConnell from the majority leadership role. They need to ask themselves if doubling down on their pursuit of power, throwing values to the wind to this end, really sparks joy in their hearts and souls. Do their efforts generate genuine authority, lay claim to authentic leadership, when fellow humans must be denigrated in the process?

Failing to be honest with themselves and respectful of the public will eventually set off other kinds of sparks. Just ask Ralph Northam.


Treat this as an open thread.

48 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    McConnell will be 78 years old on February 20, 2020.  It’s time to move him out of leadership, GOP. It’s time to retire him, Kentucky.

    I’m going to continue to say this until he’s gone. He is living in the past and our country can’t afford to stay there with him any longer.

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks Rayne.  Yes, a good cleanse creates change.  To clean house:  declutter, remove and deep clean. When the dirt and dust bunnies surface, time to eliminate the grime for a new and cleaner environment.  Kentucky could get out the vacuum to suck McConnell up and out of office. That would be a perfect purge.

    • Wajim says:

      I agree, Rayne, with no reservations.  And yet, none of what we wish for will happen until some 30 million of our current Fox/ Infowars/Southern Baptist fellow Americans die off over time.  And their kids, and their kid’s kids, slowly drift out of the cult. And you know, I’m sure, given our political/economic and environmental crisis that we haven’t the time.  So, the question becomes, not what should happen, but what needs to actually happen and how do we make it so.  That said, McConnell will soon go, as Trump, et al, but do you think Kentucky/Tennessee/West Virginia/Ohio/etc. will suddenly be enlightened to “what they should do . . .” because we enlightened blog folk know better? These people are far beyond reaching with scolding, evidence and reason.  They need to lose at the in the media and then the polls, first, to be marginalized like the Birchers and other fascist cranks. The question is, precisely, how?

    • Valerie Klyman-Clark says:

      Amen. Thank you for that read; I am obliged. Val Clark here, newbie and admirer.

      The truly remarkable Maimouna Youseff, aka Mumu Fresh recently suggested on the Instagram that your miracle/s can’t land if there’s shit on the landing strip.

      Happy Year of the Pig, all.

  2. Rugger9 says:

    That of course assumes that the current GOP has any conscience whatsoever.  They don’t, after conspiring with the Soviets Russians to hack the DNC and then using that data in their races in FL and elsewhere, combined with McTurtle’s flat refusal to allow Obama to sound the alarm.  Does anyone really think that the known penetrations of the voter rolls in several states didn’t have more than a few voters booted off with no time to fix it?  That’s one of the real crimes here and the TX debacle (“95,000” non-citizens voted, except not so much after actually looking at the lists created from obsolete data…) just reinforces the evidence that the GOP will not stop until they are purged from the political landscape like the Federalists and Whigs were.

    There is no hope for the GOP to be part of this discussion, and removal of a couple of people at the top doesn’t excuse the rest of them (Hi, Devin!) for their antics and craven groveling to Kaiser Quisling.

    1984: “The purpose of power is power” and that is what the GOP is following.

    • Rayne says:

      McConnell’s insistence on continued voter suppression from the floor of the Senate this past week — uncontested by anyone from his party — was so nakedly anti-democratic (little d) that we can only assume the GOP believes freezing its ranks to whites only will preserve its future. If it endorses this position it can’t persuade vital new blood from the fastest growing demographics in the U.S. to swell its ranks.

      If the GOP doesn’t do some soul searching it truly is a dead party walking, merely a zombie lurching around without any real animus but MUST-EAT-BRAINZ. Plenty of movies depict how that turns out.

  3. Rugger9 says:

    OT: Anyone know what to make of Paulie’s superdupersecret hearing today and when we will hear its decision?

  4. MattyG says:

    Tsundoku. What a new and wonderful term. The ‘thing’ in question that sparks joy are glorious walls of books. That is the thing. I feel more relaxed already.

    • Rayne says:

      I am all about the tsundoku. If you think about it, libraries are tsundoku — piles of books waiting to be read. Stacks and stacks of happiness.

    • P J Evans says:

      One of the places I read elseweb calls that pile of unread books “Mt Tsundoku” – and everyone there has one, to the point where we refer to “adding books to Mt Tsundoku”.

      • Cathy says:

        Lol. Harvey Konmari’d us.  First thing we did after getting out of the hotel room was to begin rebuilding our “Mt. Tsundoku.”

        Started with my daughter, who had lost her precious stash to Harvey’s sucking maw. First non-Walmart purchase went to reconstituting her collection of her favorite author + the two volumes she had yet to find at 1/2-Price Books. Didn’t tell her, just put them by her air mattress. Babygirl broke down in sobs when she got home from school (babygirl to me, high school senior to everyone else). :-)

        • Tom says:

          Always cheered to hear of young people who love books and reading.  There’s hope for the world yet! Needless to say, there are lots of online sources for new and second hand books, and I don’t mean Amazon.

          • Cathy says:

            We turned the summer into one big scavenger hunt (injecting funds into local businesses as proven way to buoy an area distressed by natural disaster). Looking forward to that reader one day becoming a writer…maybe a blogger!!

            Trick is we never lost a paycheck. Same for many of our neighbors. Until last month. [Grrr…]  Bad. Bad McTurtle. Bad.

  5. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    Mitch ain’t goin’ anywhere before Kentucky votes him out, he can’t because he’s too compromised to get out given that he’s caught between the devil and the Russians (OK that’s redundant). Seriously, the balance of the Republican Senate is owned by the Russians and the Kochs and as long as he doesn’t screw the pooch by allowing another shutdown he will remain majority leader and the opposition to Trump will never get to 67 votes.  And thinking that maybe he will “retire” because he’s 75 now and maybe won’t last until 2020, I remind you that turtles have a long life span in captivity.

    • Rayne says:

      First, the point behind writing essays like mine is to force the public to think about the GOP and its leadership — what are they doing for the American public? It takes a long time to turn a battleship around and I expect attitudes which ensured a racist scumbag like McConnell have been repeatedly re-elected will take quite a while to turn around as well.

      Which may well be why a PR firm was enlisted to help salvage the little racist Covington KY high school monsters’ image — the state has already begun to question itself about McConnell and its investment in racism. Can’t have those spoiled brats making KY’s racism look worse than it does already when McConnell wields it.

      Second, pressure increases the odds of unforced errors. McConnell made an unforced error supporting Sons of the Confederacy. What else is out there as yet undiscovered, or waiting for him to fuck up like his bashing of Elizabeth Warren?

      Believe me, the day his headstone meets his grave the first wave of women will show up to spit on his grave. Nevertheless, we will persist.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        I agree with you Rayne,  I guess I was just reminding folks that even if he wanted to get out his owners won’t let him and there aren’t enough uncompromised Republicans in the senate to dump him.

      • DrHack says:

        what are they doing for the American public?

        Sadly there is a significant number of people who think the GOP and its leadership are doing just the right things.

        Or worse, they acknowledge that the wrong things are being done, but they are content to live with that because some other priority (anti-choice, guns, etc.) is being protected.

        Either way, these evil ones keep being reelected. I am not confident that this will change any time in the near future.

        • Xboxershorts says:

          We have witnessed in the past 40+ years, entire well funded industries made up of keepers of the status quo that are designed to ensure a significant percentage of the American population is always angry at all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons. And keeping them angry in sufficient numbers so that those who benefit most from the status quo can be assured that, indeed, nothing will change thanks to our divided electorate.

          PS..Books that I have read which I suspect I won’t be re-reading are always being given away. This, too, is de-cluttering.

        • Rayne says:

          We know “a significant number of people” =/= majority. A majority of people didn’t subscribe to Trumpism.

          A majority of Kentuckians may have subscribed to McConnell in 2014 for a number of reasons including a fear of change — not so much that they liked what McConnell did for them. And of course there are a number of KY idiots who are evangelical hypocrites, who believe that brown baby and maternal deaths are just fine if only abortion is outlawed. They’re regressive compared to the rest of the country; the rest of the U.S. shouldn’t have to suffer under McConnell as majority leader when he doesn’t represent dominant values.

          But McConnell was primaried last time and had soft results from his own party. He faced a young first-time female Dem candidate who was popular enough to win re-election as KY’s secretary of state. She’d have a solid chance if she ran again. The clock’s ticking — it’s only a matter of time.

          It’s past time to force a rethinking of their values. Better to start now than wait until the panic sets in with their tax return or a recession.

  6. P J Evans says:

    I suspect a lot of the GOP-T gets joy from hurting people who aren’t like them: women, minorities, immigrants, the poor (meaning everyone who isn’t in the 0.1%) and the disabled.

    • Rayne says:

      But do their representatives bring them happiness even if these deplorables enjoy sadism? Is the sadism enough to offset the incompetence and worse when it comes to governance?

      • Tracy Lynn says:

        I’m going to say “yes” to that, @Rayne. The deplorables’ representatives’ sadistic tendencies make most of them happy… M McConnell was first elected to the Senate in 1984. He has been reelected five times by fairly significant majorities. I’d say he is exactly what his constituents want.

        This is a great post.

  7. Pete says:

    Good thought provoking post Rayne.

    Got me to thinking about the application of a little Feng Shui in the WH and Congress.

    Yeah, wandering off topic and going Chinese, but Easter ways has its points

  8. Valley girl says:

    Excellent essay, Rayne.  This is the first time I’ve heard the term tsundoku.

    You mentioned piles of books, and a lot of holey stray socks.  For now, I’ll focus on this first part of what you wrote.  I have piles of books and also a lot of HSSs.

    I’m not going to get rid my books, especially 501 French Verbs, for example, even though it does not  always give me joy.  But clearing out a lot of things in the HSS category would give me joy.

    I’ve been learning French for the past few years, and, 501 Verbs aside, it does give me joy.  Learning French puts me into a place where I can escape from and concentrate on something other than daily life under Trump.  My view:  I figure that any sane person has to have a sane way of escaping into another frame of reference, another mindset, to avoid being hopelessly sucked into hopelessness.

    Alas, a whole lot of the time I feel so depressed about the state of the world that I don’t have the energy to clear out the holey stray socks, and the rest of my household mess.  And living with my household mess depresses me further.  Not a good state to be in, fer sure.  You said this was an open thread, so if anyone has ideas to give me about how to stop this downward spiral, please chime in.

    I must say, however, that the thought of holey stray socks (HSSs) did give me a grin when I started thinking about which politicians I would put in that category.  Trump and McConnell, absolument.  Ils sont périmé. Et aussi sentent le rat crevé

  9. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Bigotry can only be cured one bigot at a time.  And of course it is the bigot him/herself must do the curing.

    In Virginia, 86 human beings were lynched. The National Museum for Peace and Justice is now open. One of it’s intentions is for each State to come to the museum and retrieve the icon of each person who was lynched in their state and return it it to a place of consecration in their home state. Virginia’s Governor should personally lead that effort, along with the appropriate counterparts from Virginia, immediately after his resignation.


  10. Theresa says:

    McConnell’s probably leaning towards not running. He’s old and has been under incredible stress since #Individual1 stole the presidency. He’s probably passed the point of diminishing returns. Kentuckians (poor ones) have been so screwed over by him. I hope he rots in hell. I’d love to see Amy McGrath take his seat.

  11. AitchD says:

    When they search their hearts and souls they look only for opportunity and consequences. Easier for some of them and wholly better for our country would be if they left and would caucus with the Democrats or switch and change the majority. A long shot, though It would be the third time in this century that would happen, each for the better.

  12. roberts robot double says:

    >> what sparks joy for one rouses sadness in others

    No. What sparks *pleasure* for one rouses *displeasure* in others.

    Happiness/joy only occurs as a result of the positive karmic effects of our good treatment of others. This is a part of human nature. Happiness or unhappiness comes only as a result of our interactions with other human beings for it is the universe’s feedback system to nudge us away from the destructiveness of mammalian competitive aggression and towards humanitarian cooperative service.

    A very common misconception human beings have in 2019 is the conflation of happiness with pleasure, but pleasure can be the result of either the good or bad treatment of others, the latter if a person is an unrepentant oppressor (sadist). This is why those in power within our govt have no qualms separating migrant children from their families and are even today defending their not reuniting them under further lies and obfuscations. As the inimitable American speaker of truth Charles P. Pierce has been saying for some time now, “The Trump Administration’s cruelty is not just deliberate. It is casual.”

    So, to steer this back to the beloved KonMarie, her recommendation is for one’s environment to give the resident a sense of peace and pleasure, not discomfort and loathing. Her counsel is to always have the resident do what gives them pleasure; this is because she loves the people she counsels, just as I do.

    >> Trump isn’t the only human obstruction to realizing our communal universal values, though.

    Yes, and the most important communal universal value is the supreme importance of universal compassion as the most fundamental personal self-evolution that we must *ALL* embark upon and perfect over the course of our lifetimes as a deliberate effort to become optimal members of an (hopefully) improving society.

    Note that even wolverines have compassion for their young, so the compassion a KKK member has for their offspring has no bearing on their utter lack of humanity, for we are all judged by how we treat the “least of our neighbors”, and we are commanded to love them *ALL* as our own selves.

    This is the second part of the Greatest Commandment which you can look up if you care to understand what the first part is. Why that first part is essential is denied by most on this Earth, and that is no small part of why we face the dire predicaments we do.

    Peace be with you all.

  13. e.a.f. says:

    all books regardless of subject bring some joy, let me rephrase that, some books need to be sent to the dump because they advocate vile actions. Books though, generally, even if they deal with subjects which may not bring joy, in fact bring sorrow, teach us something and that’s good. Books can be re read time and again.

    What brings us happiness and/or joy, keep it, junk the rest. good idea, as you suggest we bring that thought to politics, a lot of countries would be much better off. McConnell you wonder why a 78 yr old is still doing this. sure must be a lot of money in it. Perhaps there needs to be a retirement age for politicians in the U.S.A. Most countries, except the odd dictatorship, don’t have these very aged politicians around. Same for the Supreme Court. In Canada, they retire at 75.

    Northam needs to go. If he doesn’t he’ll drag the whole Democratic party down. he can’t bring happiness to many, with the past and he himself must have lived in some fear he would be discovered.

    Send them all into retirement. If they still want to do public service, let them volunteer at the local homeless shelter, cleaning up. that will at least make the homeless happy.

  14. Parker Dooley says:

    “What is it we should jettison if we are truly keeping that which is honest and trustworthy, responsible, respectful, caring, and fair?”
    Not Ralph Northam. He has been all of the above as a physician and as a politician. I have known him for decades as a friend, neighbor and briefly as a mentee when he was in medical school. This controversy is an attack by a group of anti-choice fanatics. Whatever the context and origin of that photo, he is not that person.

    • Wm. Boyce says:

      My question is who exactly can pass the “perfect human” test? This not to say that the past shouldn’t be exposed, but I have come to feel that we’ve passed some point at which reason is no longer the ruler in some of these political judgements based on a person’s past. If there is no redemption, and every act merits a life sentence via the internet, there are very few people who will survive the test politically.

  15. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Valley Girl @5:04 pm:
    Several years ago, I spent several weeks using Kondo’s book “Spark Joy” as a guide to a long-hoped-for major reorganize project. I found her insights and recommendations very clear and simple to follow. If the world were more sane, doctors would be able to write a prescription for two weeks of ‘organizing’ assistance for their patients. I honestly think this kind of thing helps improve people’s health in many respects: for starters, just getting the clutter cleared out of my life was a godsend. FWIW, in my case, the process was extremely emotional at first, but then eventually it became profoundly relaxing. I think this is part of what makes Kondo’s approach so powerful: it’s extremely soothing.

    If the idea of reorganizing feels overwhelming to you, I recommend putting on a favorite Netflix series, or music. Or podcasts. For me, following Kondo’s process was like taking a ‘brain vacation’: clearing out extraneous ‘stuff’ reduced some of the buzzing that gets in my brain when I’m surrounded by clutter.

    If ordering takeout helps you stay focused on cleaning up, do it. In my case, it felt like an incredible luxury just to take the time to drive things to Goodwill: for me, it was a guilty pleasure. Buy yourself a latte or a bottle of Merlot, or whatever you enjoy; make it fun.

    In 2018, I had several projects that required ‘another pair of eyes’, and I simply did not have the time or energy to do them on my own. In addition, my spouse was too ill to work through reorganizing his very large workspace, and needed some level-headed, calm support and creative thinking to help him.

    I was able to find a superb ‘organizer assistant’ through a friend’s recommendation. This idea of helping people organize – whether they are downsizing, moving, grieving, or just need to regroup – seems to be catching on in my area.

    My ‘organizer’ is booking out months ahead at this point, and is someone that I am delighted to have as a resource. (She is licensed and bonded, which I took to mean that she is serious about making it a business, and not a hobby. She gets a sense of the project ahead of time, and then comes up with a rough plan for me to sign on to; this process keeps things organized, and the expectations are clear for everyone. If anything needs to be purchased, it’s ready and waiting when she shows up. She also has a whole network of resources: people who make repairs, haul things away, know about hazardous materials, or can build cabinets or other items as needed.)

    The KonMari website has a list of consultants who have been through Kondo’s training, and presumably have to meet a certain standard of professional services. You might check her website for names in your area, if you are interested: https://konmari.com/pages/consultants

    If you want some assistance but can’t find it at Kondo’s website, you could probably google names for ‘organizers’ or ‘personal assistants’ in your area. I happened to get very lucky, but I assume that you are in a large city with plenty of talented people. I wish you lots of satisfaction and calm.

    • Valley girl says:

      Thank you so much for taking my query seriously, and for the information you provided.  It’s just what I needed.

  16. Drew says:

    On books and Konmari/Tsundoku. I spent the bulk of my career as a theological librarian. My last library was a place with a long history and very substantial collections. During that time we built a new library facility. The problem was that we were in Manhattan where space is dear. While the collections were in storage, I was informed that a floor of library space was being eliminated. (The president had promised me for years that there would be room for all the books-as I said to a group of colleagues, he promised on his mother’s grave, it was only later that I learned he never had a mother). So, some sections were placed at another research library, but we still didn’t have enough shelf space. I ended up going through almost the entire collection (175,000 volumes after sending 75K to the other library) searching for duplicates & volumes no longer relevant to the current work of the school & the current way research is done. It was an emotional time, but a goodly amount of that was joy–seeing the good work that had been done by my predecessors and all the good possibilities looking forward. I culled quite a bit from a very large biography collection-boxes of biographies of generals for instance. We had a very good used book dealer who purchased a lot of things, so good things that were unlikely to be relevant in the future weren’t being discarded but passed along to places where they would be relevant. One of the choices I remember most was I discovered a published copy of the entire transcript of the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, taking more than a full shelf. There was no sign that it had been consulted in over half a century, so it had to go, but I was very thankful that some time during the 1950s, it was being used as a source for classes in theological ethics.

    As I understand, a big part of her method is giving thanks to the discarded items for the joy they have rendered. I can’t see any particular joy or goodness that have emerged, either from the Sanctimonious Turtle or the Orange Demon, but I do give thanks for those good people in Kentucky who have struggled to rid themselves of the Turtle and for everyone who resists the Demon by maintaining honor, dignity and devotion to truth in the most difficult of times.

    • Valley girl says:

      Drew, thank you for this heartfelt post.  It was fascinating.  I will sent it along to a dear friend, retired minister.  I always enjoy reading your comments at EW.

    • Rayne says:

      “Dear Sanctimonious Turtle: Thank you for opening our eyes to the possibility of a more perfect union with your absence. Your base may hate to see you leave, but I’ll take great joy watching you go. Hasta.”

    • P J Evans says:

      I have some books (not theology, but history) that were culled from libraries – including college libraries. They’re still being useful.

  17. Eureka says:

    Greetings Rayne and all, I hate to untidy your writer-scaping here but I am gonna have to complain about the SOTU soon.
    He said something about people in PA, IN, bunch of other states ~ dreams being destroyed~ YEAH, when you were elected, MFER!
    Pre-existing conditions, huh?
    I am HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS about this HIV thing. HIGHLY suspicious.
    And now he is onto childhood cancer…

    • Eureka says:

      I am still shaken by the use of WWII-talk and people in this speech, by this POTUS, with his policies and history and aims.  A bit more than I can articulate right now… But this is some barely-coded kiss-up to RU and kiss-off to NATO ish I cannot abide.

      • Tom says:

        If Trump really wanted to praise (or appease) the Russians, he could have mentioned their decisive contribution to defeating Nazi Germany in WWII.   For example, at the same time as the Allies were landing on D-Day, the Red Army was engaged in a battle known to history as the Destruction of Army Group Centre, which Stalin timed to coincide with the Normandy invasion.   But this might have sounded a bit too suspicious given Trump’s present Russian entanglements, besides which Trump’s knowledge of WWII is probably limited as well.

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