Posted by: Harold Knight | 07/10/2010

Peter Walsh again, this time on the Oregon beach. NOT!

On October 12, I wrote about Nate Berkus, Peter Walsh, and Oprah and their organizing fetish. Just yesterday Rachael Callender commented on that posting. I’m sure she means well. She googled her “fellow antipode” (whatever that oxymoron—that messy, random word construction means) Peter Walsh and came upon my blog. How disorganized is that?

(A question to ponder. Is Google evidence of the organization of the world or of the randomness of the world? Google snoops through randomness so you and I can google the randomness and find what we’re looking for; Google does NOT organize the randomness. MSWord, of course, has no truck with randomness. I’ll write about that some other time, but think about how bizarre it is that when you want to do something, your action always defers to the “default.” MSWord believes there is some sort of absolute standard in the world which should be the pattern for everything we do.)

Do you know what’s wrong with Sarah Palin and her ilk? (Oops. Random thought.) They spend too much time at the Container Store. They are convinced that, if government and society and everyone they know would just get organized, would somehow manage to get all ambiguity and messiness and contradiction out of their (OUR—they want to force their fetish onto the rest of us) lives, everything would be just fine. Omigod! They want to live in a world that is, for starters, unnatural.

Peter Walsh, Nate Berkus, and Oprah want all of us to live in their bizarre little (I use that word purposefully) unnatural world. The percentage of the universe that’s in boxes from the Container Store is exactly the percentage that’s in boxes from the Container Store. Every other particle of creation is, well, it’s acting naturally, and most of that is pretty random. Randomness is the order of the day.

Rachael, in her comment on my posting about her antipodean friend, said, ”. . . I hope you can get rid of the religious clutter in your life which seems to be holding you back from inner contentment.” Somewhere along the line, I accepted the impulse to religion as part of the randomness of being a human being. It’s probably built into our brains. Suzanne Langer, in Philosophy in a New Key, discusses the (possible) origins of music. Unfortunately, in the messiness of my house, I don’t know where the book is; I’m not going to find it so I can make a proper citation—you’ll just have to take my word for it. And you CAN take my word for it because it’s roaming around at random in my memory. Langer says music was probably the first art. Our Ancestors 500,000 years ago discovered rhythm by walking. Try to walk in a dotted rhythm, dum (long) –de (short)-dum-de-dum-de-dum-de. That last “de” will get you every time. You will randomly loose your balance. But if you’re clapping it, you’ll get a shiver down your spine.

Peter Walsh will probably say, “See, you’ve proved my point. Even walking is organized!” Baloney. Walking is what walking is. It’s the unexpected, the surprise, the random that sends the shiver down your spine. And that shiver, the Ancestors realized, meant something they couldn’t explain. And that explanation got developed into religion because it helps us share with other people the absolute randomness of our lives. Sorry, Rachael. Religious clutter isn’t what’s holding me back from inner contentment. It may be confusing my thought processes because there’s so much of it I can’t quite sort it out. If anything is holding back my inner contentment, it’s letting organized people make me feel “less than” because I don’t want to succumb to the Container Store.

The last time I was at the Oregon coast, I couldn’t sort out the seaweed from the shells of dead fish from the flies buzzing around from the sand from the live crabs from the seagulls on the beach. I guess they need to send in the Container Store and tidy that place up. Oh, and make it warmer, too. If I read Peter Walsh correctly, the peace I felt there couldn’t have been real because the place was too cluttered.

People who think I can’t find spiritual contentment because I have these 2,000 unorganized books in my computer room (which is designed to be the dining area of my loft apartment, separated from the kitchen by a half-wall—whoever heard of sitting at your computer writing and looking over the counter into your kitchen?) and this mess all around me are in some kind of straight jacket I find very sad.

The surprising, the random, the new, the off-the-wall, the creative response to a new situation is unfathomable to them. Sharron Angle, as I said yesterday, thinks one reaction to a difficult situation must be god’s will, but another isn’t. How does she know? She has her life arranged in Container Store boxes, and, by god (literally, she thinks) anything that falls out of the box is not of god. Now, Rachael, that’s religious clutter. My having a sense of the numinous, of the transcendent is not “clutter.” It’s simply trying to exercise a very real part of my mind. And, I fear, determination that those things don’t exist is Container Store thinking just like Sharron Angle’s. Put it in the box!

Do you know why my fellow queers, for the most part, have homes that are not homes but showplaces for the Container Store—a place for everything and everything in its place. And everything has to be more beautiful and expensive than everything in your house. It’s not artistic sensibility. It’s simple. We all feel (come on, guys) so random in this world of Sarah Palin look-alikes (and Nate Berkus look-alikes) that we cannot stand it. So we order things. We order things. I don’t. I’m not a real faggot.

Oh stop it! What I’m saying is not internalized homophobia. All the order and beauty in gay men’s homes is. How joyful is it to feel random in Sarah Palin’s world? Gay men and lesbians have a head start on other folks. We come into this world feeling random. Other folks have one goal. Procreation. We have many goals—or at least many ways to achieve the universal human goals. Why stultify that wonderful innate randomness by ordering your apartment to look like an Armani suit shop—neatly (compulsively) ordered rows of suits. Not a pair of socks or a package of briefs for your perfect skinny butt in the store.

My brother and sister-in-law are coming to my place for the weekend. Guess why. They are geniuses at putting things in order. I need order. I need to get rid of piles of stuff.

Want to know why? Because much of the stuff belonged to my late partner. I’ve held onto it for comfort. Don’t go all “extreme makeover” on me here. Don’t miss my point. It’s time for me to get rid of the clutter that isn’t really mine. It’s time for me to bury myself in my own clutter. The stuff that belonged to Jerry has been part of my grief. It has been part of my figuring out how I want to spend the rest of my life. It has been a port in the storm of randomness. That does not mean what Peter Walsh will say it means. It means love. It means the messiness of being alive. It means randomness. But I’ve begun to outlive the usefulness of that particular pile of randomness. I need to get back to the Oregon beach of my mind and find my own messiness. That’s all.


  1. I’m glad my comment inspired you to make another post.
    I would never describe a beach as cluttered – they are self cleaning environments (maybe not the oil spill covered ones right now).



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