January 18, 2018

"the things you think you love — like a pair of Gucci booties — can't reciprocate. That relationship is one-sided."

Writes Mary Carlomagno, a de-cluttering expert, quoted in a WaPo article that talks about many techniques, but has one I haven't see before:
Take a photo. Carlomagno likes the idea of taking a photo to keep ("that leather pencil skirt that you were only able to wear once, after you had food poisoning in 1994") and letting the object go. This solution was a revelation for me when it came to gifts and paper memorabilia — a way to preserve programs from a wedding or an aunt's teacup without having to find a place for them.
The love for things is unreciprocated, so treat them like people who don't love you, whom you may still love. Keep a photograph:

35 comments:

buwaya said...

My decluttering problem has to do with, not keeping a photograph, but keeping a camera. Like Ringo's Pentax Spotmatic. Or the next fellows Nikon F. I have several dozen, including a bunch just like those.

The mere sight of these things makes me happy. Its a collectors mania.

My wife has considerably more bulky collection/hobby accumulation. We like things.

buwaya said...

My only self-portrait is me holding an Exakta.

robother said...

I've never owned a pair of Gucci booties. But I've been muttering the phrase "Gucci Booties" over and over the last 5 minutes. The only space I really inhabit has been taken over, and I have no idea how to declutter it. Gucci Booties. Gucci. Booties.

rehajm said...

...so treat them like people who don't love you, whom you may still love...

Oh man...

Curious George said...

"buwaya said...

The mere sight of these things makes me happy. Its a collectors mania.

My wife has considerably more bulky collection/hobby accumulation. We like things."

That's how I am about my vintage woodworking machines. I can sit in my shop and just look at them. I have a 1947 Oliver table saw that makes me smile every time. Bulky isn't the word for it though. It was almost as much as my F-150.

buwaya said...

The propensity to collect can apply to nearly anything. William Randolph Hearst did that, he would buy up all sorts of stuff in Europe and ship it home, often leaving these things unopened in packing crates. Thats what the final scene in "Citizen Kane" alludes to. He bought an entire Spanish medieval monastery and had it shipped to Ssn Francisco. You can see the ancient stones all over Golden Gate park.

People can be collections too; many monarchs indulged in the temptation to collect women. Some of these collections turned into institutions themselves, which later monarchs could not get rid of and had to perpetuate, as was the case with the Ottoman Grand Seraglio. That would have been a decluttering problem for the ages.

There are all sorts of hobbies. I suspect that was the real driver behind Wilt Chamberlains famous system. Less sex than hobby.

Leeatmg said...

I have actually used this technique for years. I have an exceptionally poor long term memory, and I realized at some point that I was holding on to things because they helped remember thing I could no longer remember on my own. I began taking photographs, and it made the process of decluttering easier and still allowed me to preserve memories that I wished to preserve.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

This is a lifesaver for parents of artistic children.

rhhardin said...

Double meaning of love.

Nonapod said...

I like to own things that can be utilized like tools and musical instruments. Playing a very high quality guitar can inspire creativity, in an indirect way that could be considered a reciprocation of love.

mockturtle said...

Never owned any Gucci booties but if they keep your feet cozy and warm, why would that not be a form of reciprocation?

rhhardin said...

The nice thing about clutter is that you waste zero time cleaning up.

rhhardin said...

When my main computer laptop died after 12 years 24/7, having been used with external monitor and keyboard, its keyboard was thick with dust bunnies.

Its replacement, being only 5 years old but having been closed up, is strikingly clean-looking if I gaze over there.

tcrosse said...

Bumper sticker:
The best things in life aren't things.

Henry said...

Unreciprocation is an interesting concept.

The solid fact of the boots in the closet triggers happy memories of their impulsive purchase. Wearing them provides warmth and comfort. Their style gives aesthetic enjoyment and social pleasure.

You could say that it is not the boots that are reciprocating, that all the reciprocation is in my mind. But how is that different than the glow I feel when my lover compliments my boots? That too is in my mind.

See also, Negative Capability.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...so treat them like people who don't love you, whom you may still love.

You're suggesting that I stalk my former possessions? That's just wrong.

Birches said...

Yep Pants. I take a picture of most of the keepsakes sent home from school. So helpful.

buwaya said...

The difference between a photograph and a lovely working object like a camera, or any fine instrument, is that the camera can be touched, felt, operated, used. You can mount a lens and walk about framing things and focusing on them, with a silky-smooth helical, through some fantastic f/1.4 glass on a monster viewfinder.

The whole world looks extra-fantastic through such a system. Playing with this stuff is a pleasure even without taking a picture.

It is a tactile thing, a functional thing. Og the Neanderthal would probably have felt the same about some extraordinary flaked spearhead.

SteveBrooklineMA said...

I used this technique a few years ago after my dad died and mom was moving out of their big old house. I took a lot of sentimentally attached junk to the dump. Taking photos of it helped a lot. Of course, I never actually look at them, and probably never will. But the photos helped at the time.

Freeman Hunt said...

I've been doing this for years. A decluttering game changer.

Freeman Hunt said...

"...treat them like people who don't love you, whom you may still love."

I don't know how to make things not exist.

Michael said...

I use my iphone to take pics of all my business receipts and store them in Evernote. Easy at tax time.

R.J. Chatt said...

I'm living with this dilemma at the moment. For me clutter is a ratio between how much space you have and your possessions and whether they are worth keeping and still have emotional meaning. I don't mind a certain amount of clutter. Being an artist means you automatically accumulate things because you keep making stuff. IMO being obsessed with not having clutter can be just as neurotic as hoarding.

I don't believe photos ever replace objects, any more than seeing someone on TV or in the movies is anything like seeing someone in person. But it's a helpful tool as SteveBrooklineMA explained so well.

EDH said...

"that leather pencil skirt that you were only able to wear once, after you had food poisoning in 1994"

I always found a mild food poisoning is an effective way to kick-start a weight-loss program.

I'm surprised the method hasn't be packaged and marketed.

Daniel Jackson said...

OMG--that was my first camera--the Asahi Pentax. My father gave it to me for my seventeenth birthday along with a Pilot light meter. I used it continuously until 1989 when I replaced it with two Canon A1's.

I took it to sea, to India, to a teacher training course for transcendental mediation in 1972, and started my visual ethnography of homeless in downtown Seattle.

The only problem was the hand-held light meter. I truly learned the fundamentals of light, exposure, and ASA, but taking time out to get a reading to get a proper exposure sort of screwed up spontaneity on locations. So, I opted for the A1 and suffered through its wonderful construction.

In all my decluttering morphs, I still have the Canon A1s, which I acquired when I traded it for the Canons and several lenses. So, I guess it lives on. I have gone through several wives and careers, but those cameras--NEVER.

The thing is that I always thought the camera was totally uncool and without redemption even though I clung to it for all those years. NOW, at this very moment, that in fact it was cooler than cool because RINGO-FUCKING-STARR had the same camera. Seriously, how cool is that!!

Roy Jacobsen said...

EDH, forget food poisoning. Tapeworms are the way to go.

Not.

buwaya said...

"NOW, at this very moment, that in fact it was cooler than cool because RINGO-FUCKING-STARR had the same camera. Seriously, how cool is that!!"

Pentax scored a coup in 1964-ish because it gave all the Beatles Pentax cameras.
Their top of the line black SV's with f/1.4 lenses.
The Beatles loved them, and were photographed carrying them and using them.
This was early and extremely effective "product placement".
The one Ringo's got there is a little later one, a Spotmatic.

Pentax became the worlds bestselling SLR for a couple of decades.

Quaestor said...

Vanity, thy name is Woman.

fivewheels said...

Anyone who loves a thing for good reason knows that a photo is nothing. I have many, many smoking pipes, carved by artisans from five continents, some beautiful, some plain, all useful, and what they give back to me is irreplaceable (except by more, different pipes, which is why the collection yet grows). And the philosophical matter was settled long ago.

This is not a pipe.

Quaestor said...

I don't know if this remains true... Gucci used to make saddles. They got into the business chiefly because arch-rival Hermes had gotten into saddlery who in turn hoped to snatch millions from the ancient and honourable Crosby and Sons, saddlers by appointment to.

Hermes saddles weren't any better than those made by Crosby or Stubben or any of a half-dozen other brands from Europe and the United States, but they were much more expensive to the point that it was quite possible to have more invested in the tack than the horse that wore it. Hermes made a serious marketing error, however. No one could tell a Hermes close-contact jumping saddle from most of the cheaper ones (comparatively cheaper, that is) by looking at a discrete distance. Only by lifting the flap could one see the embossed metal plaque with the coveted logo on it. How then could the owner of such frivolous finery declaim her atrocious affluence without pointing and shouting? Gucci solved that problem in typical Gucci fashion. Gucci replaced the little keeper which holds the end of the stirrup leather out of the way with red and green dohickey, thus advertising the saddle's designer provenance to everyone inclined to be impressed by such waste.

Robin Eatmon said...

I have been thinking about taking pictures of stuff in my home that belonged to relatives and passed down to me. I'm planning on making notes with each picture so my children know what meant what and why to me. Now, they will have the stuff and photos of the stuff in notebooks...oh my. I am a de-cluttering fail.

Ringo has aged well. I enjoyed the video.

Mary said...

That’s a good idea, and makes you think is this thing even worthy of a picture. I sometimes have a hard time parting with old stuff hanging around. But once I get in a groove of cleaning out, it feels so good!

truth speaker said...

Been doing this for *years*.

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'TreHammer said...

"NOW, at this very moment, that in fact it was cooler than cool because RINGO-FUCKING-STARR had the same camera. Seriously, how cool is that!!"

Pentax scored a coup in 1964-ish because it gave all the Beatles Pentax cameras.
Their top of the line black SV's with f/1.4 lenses.
The Beatles loved them, and were photographed carrying them and using them.
This was early and extremely effective "product placement".
The one Ringo's got there is a little later one, a Spotmatic.

Pentax became the worlds bestselling SLR for a couple of decades."

I wonder if they took their own film in for developing or if they did their own film loading.

1/18/18, 4:45 PM