The Importance of Hoarding

"All power to the packrats!"


I opt-in to a lot of e-newsletters. Partly out of optimism ("I totally have time to read 1,000 e-newsletters a day!") and partly because I suffer from the hoarding compulsion (more on that below). 

Out of the dozens of e-newsletters that I receive, there are only a handful that I read everyword everytime. One of those is by the writer/artist Austin Kleon, who sends a simple weekly email of 10 Things he thought were worth sharing that week. In his most recent newsletter, he shared his thoughts on the concept of "Tidying Up." 

The long(ish) post is worth a read—and mentions everyone from Marie Kondo to George Carlinbut the part that really landed with me was the section about the "Sassiest Boy in America" Ian Svenonius and the "war on hoarders": 

While I find the Kondo craze mostly benign, I do think there’s something insidious about what Ian Svenonius calls the “war on hoarders,” in which Americans are being convinced to give up all their paper books and CDs and other material clutter and embrace the digital cloud, accessed by sleek machines sold and controlled by powerful corporations.

“ALL POWER TO THE PACKRATS!” Svenonius exclaims in Censorship Now!! He knights hoarders as “the only thing standing between the incomprehensibly rich, all-controlling, degenerate, digital despots and the absolute destruction of any deviant or alternative consciousness.” (Let’s not forget that Winston Smith’s first transgression in 1984 is owning and writing in a paper diary.) If part of the artist’s job is to be that alternate consciousness, then we must keep our weird stuff around — stuff that other people find no value in.

I think a lot about hoarding, because, well, I come from a long line of packrats and hoarders. And collage, by default, requires one to hoard. 

I may not be a candidtate to appear on the TV show Hoarders (yet), but I'm definitely a collector and a clutter-bug. 

If you research hoarding it's often referred to as a mental illness that requires maintenance. I believe collage is a conduit to achieving mental health. So, in a way, my compulsion to collage cancels out my compulsion to collect.

It feels like I'm turning a negative into a positive, like I'm walking the line between collecting and hoarding.  And really, at the end of the day, I find comfort in all my clutter. It's physical evidence of my existence. 

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