In Praise of Stuff

Writing a blog is a bit like hollering out at the Alps. One gets a sense that by projecting these words at the Internet what is probably coming back is the faded echo of our own voice.

The thing is – someone was apparently listening in.

The last post I published was “Freshly Pressed” by the – allow me this harmless suck-up – highly discerning folks at WordPress.com, which generated a barrage of commentaries and new followings popping up on my email account every minute.

Then Christmas came in the way of my perfect game.

So as it stands, considerably more people are reading this new text:

Welcome to The End of Architecture.

Stuff might be the perfect word in English as it works in a sentence exactly as what it means, a place holder, something that exists by its quality of filling up space, as a way of not dealing with the specifics of the matter and getting the idea out quickly: What is all that stuff on your bedroom floor?

Not What are all those underpants, socks, t-shirts, shirts, dirty plates, dirty glasses, what looks like a cigarette butt, empty boxes of cereal, candy wrappers and one magazine on your bedroom floor?

Stuff as a word condenses all character and unknown into a word that signifies tangible and intangible as at least being.

A hoarder is someone who is unable to understand or accept, or mixes up, the transience of the objects that surround us. A hoarder will attribute value, in specific, well known patterns, to everything physical, transforming himself into a hyper-user of architecture, into someone who uses his livable space also as a warehouse to stuff (this time as a verb) as compactly as possible, deforming the objects he wishes to keep, stacking them up, using all three dimensions to fit in as much as possible.

There are many types of hoarders. Some people save up supplies, thinking that a catastrophe is near and that it might bring with it a shortage of basic goods. Others save trash, things of no apparent use. Some hoarders keep a large number of animals. Hoarders are further divided into organized and unorganized.

I can understand the hoarders mind. I too like to collect. I too have the need to keep books all around me such that no cardinal point is left without a spine or cover in sight. I also seek comfort in objects, solace in things. Between the solo and the symphonic, I tend to choose the latter. I choose variety over consistency.

I like brunch.

This aesthetic of miscellanea is what created the ensemble cast mini-series, War and Peace, the Infinite Jest and Bollywood. It is also what created my grandmother’s sitting room with a myriad of family icons and wedding pictures that would make an Orthodox church look like a Zen monastery. It’s this horror vacui that gave us Bosch’s Temptation of Saint Anthony, baroque architecture, Malangatana, the Bestiarium and this sentence.

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Portobello Road. What used to be the yellow brick road of stuff.

Brick-a-brack and other lesser arts.

Can I be blamed for staring at a wall painting by Fragonard longer than what is acceptable for an adult strolling across a museum room?

I too would like to keep close, in my nest, the things that I love. Every cereal box I ever ate. Every pet I’ve owned. Every nice postcard I received. My childhood toys, which I miss to the point of tears without really knowing I miss them.

But we do spring cleaning, and we store away and we recycle.

And the most generous among us give to the poorest among us.

People are fine, but I sure miss some stuff, sometimes.

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3 comments

  1. matildetp

    I loved this post, specially the part where you say ‘Between the solo and the symphonic, I tend to choose the latter’. Could definitely see myself wearing a t-shirt with that slogan :)

    Keep up the good work!
    xxx Matilde

  2. DLA

    Is that a suggestion for a Xmas present?
    Good to know you are among the vast intergalactic audience.
    D

  3. Pedro Clarke

    Impressed! and that reminds me… still have some of your ‘(old) stuff’ back in Lisbon, from when we packed up and left Porto, a Bodyboard if not mistaken… hope to give it back to you soon!

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