written/non-written things by me (from 2005-2008)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

BLESS THIS MESS (sense of humor, prerequisite)

Last week, I scribbled out a little treaty while my students did a stack of puzzles. I enthusiastically and pre-orgasmically entitled it:

Notes about Detritus, Aesthetic Arrangement, and the Relative Luxuries of Aesthetic Choice in Developed and Developing Landscapes

Don't get to excited, if anything its just a glimpse into a headache, a raging thought that never really jells. It shows me that I tend toward theoretical before I am concrete. That's bad.

Arrangement as Code (Intimate Scales)

I see arrangements of objects, whether careless or intentional, in any form as an expression of behavior. Attempts at aesthetic arrangement, for instance that of furniture in a room, textiles, books, people’s bric-a-brac, etc are trials in visual communication. This is called design. But messes contain to the same extent certain hints as to the character of the person. This is also widely accepted. An organized person communicates that they are under some measure of control, where as the opposite might connote either an indifference to certain standards of personal orderliness that are essential to a impeccably tidy person. Or it connote a higher sensitivity to the scales of orderliness.

Scales of Orderliness: Resolving Powers of Order:

A tidy person might have a lower resolving power when it comes to seeing organization. The recognition of the system of order must be able to be taken in a one fell swoop. User-friendly, and accessible. A color code, a designated place, etc. Whereas a messier person, I enjoy arguing, can resolve systems of order in much more detail; and at psychologically complex scales, up to a point.


MESSY PEOPLE = higher resolving powers for systems of order


Socialized Carelessness and the Opposite of Carelessness.

If behaviors are socialized and arrangement of objects is a form of behavior than arrangement, aesthetic or not, is to some extent a phenomena imposed by a social norm, or at least a household, and the value localized. For instance, parents who value orderliness will actively teach this behavior. It will become apart of the household ritual. Whereas a parent who tolerates certain scales of disorder might not value these ordering systems to such extent. Instead they might passively encourage a child to prefer order to a slightly higher degree than is accepted by the parents.

The reverse can become true in a situation when a child grows up to resent the ordering system imposed on them; and, in turn, embrace the independent opposite. Mess as rebellion against impeccable tidiness; or neatness as a reaction to stifling clutter.

But in all this there is a economic lower limit under which apparent systems of “aesthetics and order” become less a matter a choice. Arguing, however that aesthetics doesn’t exist at subsistence level, would be ignorant. When in fact much the innovation in texture and color of a Eclectic Age are indigenous in nature. Indigenous aesthetics have been appropriated and reformed for mass consumption, but this extends beyond the thoughts of these scribbling hurried notes.

Nostalgia and Mess

There is a sense of nostalgia and familiarity than can be curated in the objects and litter that we call mess, or disorder. For instance, I find that the arrangements of my own personal space will tend toward the resemblance of my mothers and grandmothers. (MORE HERE)

Personal arrangements of objects> yields a Community texture> to City identity> to National scales of order, which reinforce each other.

Personal Arrangements yield a visual order than transfers to scales of homes, then to scales of cities, and to a broader landscape of order that we recognize as a cultural landscape. I want to assume a definition of the “built environment” that strongly incorporates the vernacular texture of trash, and waste. Tolerances of trash and waste, or the lack there of can say as much about the cultural landscape about its codes of order. Landscapes are just as much about careless arrangements than they are about purposeful ones.



My name is Hannah Pierce-Carlson