The House of Tatterdemalion


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Clippings of Miscellany

February 3rd, 2008 by tatterdemalion

Today I made some attempt at cleaning up, my constant struggle, and found a lot of clippings I had meant to comment on. It seems only fitting to start with the review I ripped out of The Economist (January 6th, 2007). The book under the microscope is called A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder–How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place. No, I am not making this up.

One of the things this review taught me was the varying difference on what constitutes organzied. It says:

. . .A rough storage system (important papers close to the keyboard, the rest distributed in loosely related piles on every flat surface) takes very little time to manage. Filing every bit of paper in a precise category, with colour-coded index tabs and a neat system of cross-refrencing, will certainly take longer. And by the end, it may not save any time.

Indeed. I thought that what they refer to as “a rough storage system” counted as being organized. Color-coded index tabs and neat systems of cross-refrencing border on a mental obsession. (Not that I don’t know people who have such systems; I posit that mental obsessions are a lot more “normal” than most people are willing to accept.) “Disorganized” is when there is no system of storage; “organized chaos” is a perfectly acceptable storage system.

On the whole, it seemed like the book made a half-way decent case for not being a control freak and not worrying about or planning every stupid little thing, of which I whole-heartedly agree. One cited example was how America’s Marine Corps never make detailed plans in advance, because leaving the details to the last minute reduces the risk of wasting time on things that may ultimately prove not important at all. They also note, as I have, that disorder and creativity are closely linked. The book argues that all the hype and fuss about being organzied and neat does more to spread guilt, not boost productivity.

In the end, though, the reviewer gets the final word. For one thing, it was noted by the reviewer that the case for tidiness in some environments is overwhelming—surgery, for example. Yes, indeedy, I would like anyone doing surgery on me to be to be very exact, and to have all my files neatly filed with color-coded index tabs. While it might be very creative to do a hernia repair on someone needing their appedix removed, it would hardly be humorous or helpful.

And also,

The other thing is that the book is a bit repetitive and disorganised. Even readers who leve mess in their own lives don’t necessarily like it in others.

Ha. Isn’t that the truth.

The subject as a whole reminds me of a qoute I saw once—People who are organized are just too lazy to look for things.

I think one must be careful to avoid being extreme in either direction. It is not pleasant to live somewhere where everything must be just so, cleaned and organized to the point that one is afraid to breath for fear of messing up the intricate order of the air. It’s also not pleasant to live in some place that is so cluttered and disorganized nothing can be found or accomplished. I would never go so far as to say it is morally repugnant to not be roughly organized, but being roughly organized certainly makes for more pleasant living, and yes, greater productivity. I’ve yet to see, though, much benefit to highly detailed filing systems. The person I know who is most detailed in their organization has to spend about as much time trying to remember which file she filed something in than I would fishing it out of my loosely organized pile.

There is a need for moderation in all things—disorder and order both. They ought to balance each other out, not stifle everything else around it.


Moving on, I discovered a clipping I took from the WSJ (September 27, 2007) on anorexia and the fashion industry. It was disturbing on many levels—those suffering from anorexia, those who seem to need to be told that anorexia is disturbing, and the layers of hypocrisy from so many in the fashion industry.

A fashion label had decided to run an ad campaign, using “images of an emaciated 27-year-old woman, nude, with the line, ‘No. Anorexia.’

Already I am disturbed. How is this an ad campaign? How is this supposed to make people want to buy their cloths, to show a naked, starving woman? And what does it mean by “No. Anorexia.” What on earth are assumed to be thinking when we see that? “Gee, I wish I was that skinny”?

The article goes on to say that the managing director who O.K.’ed the ad campaign was shocked when she first saw the photos. Why? What is more shocking about seeing a nekkid anorexic, instead of a scantly clad anorexic walking down the runway? Personally, I’m more appalled by by the scantly clad anorexic on the runway—what kind of sicko wants to have their work “complimented” by starving woman? Clinically, it’s the same body whether it has designer rags on it or not cloths at all on it, and practically speaking, it’s not that much more covered when it’s wearing those things called high fashion. So what exactly is the distinction that makes it shocking when it’s not on the runway?

Someone protested that “This girl needs to bein a hospital, not at the forefront of an advertising campaign” I don’t quite understand how it is presumed this must be mutually exclusive. In my understanding of the article, the woman was fully aware of her anorexia problem, understood what the photos would be used for, and gave her full consent. Two pictures are all that are being used of her; for all I know she was laying in a hospital bed while the ad campaign stirred up fire and brimestone. Again, the thing I find troubling is that someone would find anorexia a desireable way to sell something.

The same person also complained that the campaign “glorifes a woman who is sick and could lead others to be sickly thin because of all the attention.” I am still trying to figure out how a nude, 5 foot 5, 68 lb woman with words ‘No. Anorexia’ counts as “glorifying” anorexia. I understand that anorexia is on display, but there is a big difference between displaying something and glorifying it. One can display something in a glorifying manner, or in a mocking manner, or in a disgusted manner, or in a shocking manner, or in a factual manner, or in a million other different manners. I do feel a good deal of pity who is in such desperate need for attention they would be tempted to starve themselves for it, because they are very miserable people regardless of wether or not they actually get tempted into such things. You don’t need to be anorexic to be starved for unconditional love.

Someone else stated they were bothered because it was being used for commercial purposes. I agree, but so are all the anorexic models, so where, again, is the difference?

Ms. Bertoncello dismissed comments that her company is seeking to profit from a deadly disease. “The campaign sets off an alarm, and it’s a loud one,” she said. “I am happy the ad is being talked about. whether it’s positive or negative, at least the issue is getting some real attention.” Nonetheless, she doesn’t deny that he main purpose of the campaign is to market the Nolita brand and acknowledges that all her models are thin.

Not to bad for a lady who claimed earlier in the same article that the ad “laid bare a hypocrisy that she says still lurks in the fashion wolrd. ‘If you don’t think there is a problem with some of the models working in our industry, then you have blinders on,’ she said in a telephone interview. ‘The fashion industry glorifies sickly thin models and it has to stop.’

It is pretty sick, but I’m not referring to how thin the models are. I’m referring to the people who want models that thin. It’s sick that there has to be organizations trying to restrict hiring anorexics and models—it’s sick that there is a market for people who are or appear to be anorexic.

A designer was qouted,

“I don’t agree with it,” she said. “It’s not something that we need to see—to show that body like that, that’s really sad. That kind of thing is so personal we don’t need to show it—we all know what [anorexia] is, we all know what it looks like. There are so many ways to get the message across without such shock value.”

That’s a mixed bag. I understand what she is saying; I’ve seen gratitious pictures of grief that make me feel the same way. You feel sick someone would intrudes on such personal pain for the sake of a bit of shock value. And I’m sure the guy who developed this campaign was far more interested in shock value than in compassion on those suffering from anorexia.

But on the other hand, it seems to me like she is simply uncomfortable with the hard truth of the matter. That body in that way. Is the only distrubing thing the way “that body” was shown? Would you be happier to see it on a runway in designer rags? Do we know what anorexia looks like? How come? Maybe because we see it walking down the runways all the time? Yes, it is awful to see. Does that automatically make it wrong? Does it mean we shouldn’t ever look at things that show suffering? Should we just pretend that nothing is wrong, that it’s not that big of a deal? Should we whitewash the problem, sanatize, make it all nice and neat and oh-so-much more palatable? Form committes to talk about the problem?

I have a hard time figuring out where all the “shock” is coming from, except maybe that someone just called a spade a spade, pointed out that the emperor has no clothes, so to speak. I understand that maybe lot of designers don’t like the implication that they are doing this to people. Since this anorexic has not been shown as “glamorous” but as the wasted-away human she is, it makes the designers look cruel and heartless and rather sick, instead of edgy, arty, sophisticated. That’s bad for the image of the designers; why would they want to face it up? And I understand how those campaigning against anorexia are upset that this is, after all, meant to be an advertising campaign to generate sales for a clothing company that itself is encouraging anorexia by the very models they choose to hire. That’s sick, too. And I understand being upset that some guy wanted to take picture of a naked anorexic, just to see how much he could stir up the pot.

But I don’t understand why a picture of a naked anorexic is more appalling, upsetting or shocking than those that want people to look like anorexics, than the “designs” that people put on anorexics, or the fact that people in the fashion need to be told that it is upsetting to see starving people being paraded around as clothes hangers for “high fashion”.


And finally, I found a page from the September 27, 2007 WSJ entitled When Bloomers Don’t Cut It. I’m not quite sure why I saved it, except to mock the designer (Graeme Black) who complained “Being too practical is limiting from a design point.” I would like to tell the whiner that any knuckle-head can imgaine alternate universes where perpetual motion devices really can exist; it’s the people with skill who are willing to engage the real world with all of it’s practical restrictions and make something that really works. Practicallity can indeed be a designing challange or difficulty, but I hardly think it needs to be a restriction except for those who only want to play, not work.

Or maybe I wanted to applaud the designer (Tomas Maier) who said “I like a woman who doesn’t actually like overpowering clothes. I want to see her face.” Though the cynic in me can’t help but wonder if maybe he just knows which side his bread is buttered on, and knows how to say the things people want to hear.

To be fair, the article named both designers as some of the rare few who actually designed clothes women might actually want to wear.

And also that 6267 made a big splash for a lot of people; it was also mentioned as designers who made clothes someone might want to wear, and even as being able to get a crowd weary from 12 hours of runway shows to burst into cheers. Actually, probably the biggest sign of how noteworthy 6267 is would be the fact that they even caught my fashion-hating eye. Trust me, no one was more shocked than myself.

Not to overstate the case. I just went and looked through a slideshow of 6267’s September showing, and while there were several long, full skirts that caught my eye, I was largly distracted from paying much attention to the clothes for all of the starving women.

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