I found this book with that title and a sub-title, "The Hidden Benefits of Disorder" by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman. Why am I not surprised that two men wrote it? What do they know? Well, they line up some interesting statistics: e.g. Americans spend more than $2 billion a year on closet renovations. Out of my league. I found a couple of cardboard cartons in the garage to pile stuff I threw out and I bought a couple of new IKEA garment bags. I must admit It was time for them. I received my old garment bags at a bridal shower when I was getting married 64 years ago.
Then the mess experts proceed to make light of mess. Bedroom? "Making a bed when you get up in the morning is like tying a shoe after you've taken it off." No problem with mess because who sees it? No one lives in a living room, they say, and who needs to organize a CD collection when you have an iPod? (Have they heard that vinyl is making a comeback?) As for dining rooms, people rarely eat in their dining rooms and here is where the mess merges, big-time: the table gets everything put on it, except food. I must admit my mail goes on it every day, but I clear it off and transfer it to what I call my Paper Desk (as opposed to my Computer Desk in my office). And there I get stuck. It is always piled up. I have recently begun to clear it off, mailing clippings and notes and cartoons that I have been saving for years, literally. This week I had an email from a friend thanking me for the stuff I had sent him, absolutely delighted with a 2000 newspaper article about him that I had obviously kept a long time. And I had another letter today thanking me for some good lines I had noted from a friend's book. He'd forgotten his own quotes. So this is a good thing. Out of my historic mess I am cementing old friendships.
I don't think that's exactly what Abrahamson and Freedman have in mind. They conclude their chapter on Messy Homes with an argument against tidying our identities. "The truth is, they say, "we are all at least a bit of a mess - and all the more interesting for it." They say there is a high cost to neatness and they talk about the benefits of mess. They use words like improv, random, invention, diversity and variety (not quite the same thing) and conclude with praise for "creative disorder". Comforting thought.
This team, one a professor of management (Abrahamson), the other a technology consultant (Freedman), dispense with pathological mess (you'll know that by the hoarding), and wax creatively about the aesthetics of mess and the art of mess. Well....I guess you have to keep an open mind.
Do you have any messy thoughts?