Clutter is such a fascinating word. Its both the individual pieces and the state of all those pieces put together. It’s an active verb. It’s a state of being. It’s a process.
Almost every self-help decluttering guide focuses on the central theme of feeling overwhelmed by stuff. You are literally tripping over things and it gets in the way of your life. My personal (and continuing) journey to decluttering started with similar frustration.
I am a creative person and I like to do projects. You can’t do projects if you have no space for creativity. Literally, my stuff held me back from the life I wanted to live.
One of my sources for decluttering inspiration was actually a fictional story, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick. (That’s the book that inspired Blade Runner.)
The Chaos of Clutter
Clutter is actually a major theme in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. While many futuristic tales feature minimalist settings, this story is full of waste, consumerism and the decline of materialism. In the tale, clutter is referred to as kipple by the characters and described as the material chaos that happens with decay and time.
“Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homeopape. When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it. It always gets more and more.”
The plot centers on Deckard, an android bounty hunter living in a poisonous, post-apocalyptic California. He is married, living in their bleak, consumption-focused home. His unhappiness is mirrored by his wife’s depression. His pointless existence is echoed in their pursuit of material possessions for their ever decaying home. They can’t afford to leave the planet and so they sink their energy into their belongings. The title refers to the obsession with owning live animals. Only the rich can afford them, and they are difficult to keep. As status symbols, keeping animals are a hobby. Deckard’s modest income allows him only robotic sheep.
The cycle of maintaining these pointless creatures grounds the story in a different tone than the related film. It’s both jaded and critical.
With a different reaction to the situation, Isidore seeks out pure human connections. Due to his mental decline, from the radioactive atmosphere, Isidore does not hide his social status from his new (secretly android) neighbors. He states the situation plainly.
“You have to be with other people, he thought. In order to live at all. I mean before they came here I could stand it… But now it has changed. You can’t go back, he thought. You can’t go from people to nonpeople.” – J.R. Isidore in
In fact, he helps the androids set up their new home. They are the only other inhabitants of a large apartment building. Even as it collapses around them, they try to nest.
Questions about home and home-making as a survival method arise throughout the text. They all try to keep their lives in order as they are surrounded by breaking, pointless objects.
Who Are You Without Your Stuff?
I generally applaud functional design fields such as architecture, interior decor, fashion, food and lifestyle brands. We have to own some things and they might as well be as useful and beautiful as possible. However, consumption for the sake of identity is a disease in our society.
“It’s the basic condition of life to be required to violate our own identity.”
Instead of critquing big brands, marketers or our national waste habit, we should ask who we are with, and without, our stuff. The topic pops up often in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, as all the main characters question their existence. They ponder whether they are merely curators of lonely and pointless museums by working and filling their homes with stuff.
“No one can win against kipple,” he said, “except temporarily and maybe in one spot, like in my apartment I’ve sort of created a stasis between the pressure of kipple and nonkipple, for the time being. But eventually I’ll die or go away, and then the kipple will again take over. It’s a universal principle operating throughout the universe; the entire universe is moving toward a final state of total, absolute kippleization.”
We all need some things to function. We are allowed to enjoy them too. But when those same things steal enjoyment and cause dysfunction, they should be reevaluated.
Why You Need to Declutter Your Life
I made more room for life when I decluttered my belongings. In fact, I find that even abstract concerns like time management and stress revolve around the notion that we all have a limited amount of space and must use it wisely.
“The tyranny of an object, he thought. It doesn’t know I exist.”
Saying no makes room. And in those empty spaces we find our rest, inspiration and productivity.
Nipple, by contrast, just happens. Things break. They show up as gifts or giveaways. They stay behind after a phase of life fades.
Kipple holds us back. It fills up those empty spaces. It drags down energy. It consumes us as we consume.
That’s why I decided to declutter my life. I work to maintain control of what stays and what goes.
Tell Me Your Thoughts!
Where do you fall on the clutter spectrum? I’d love to hear about how you care for your space. Connect with me on my Facebook page and let me know what you’ve been doing.