“Tidying Up” at Culture on the Edge

The Life-changing manga of tidying up: a magical story, by Marie Kondo, author of the life-changing magic of tidying up, illustrated by yuk uramoto. A graphic novel to spark joy in life, work, and love. Kondo is illustrated as a manga character with her finger pointed in the air and a smile on her face.

If you’re up on Netflix’s catalog (and even if you’re not), you’ve probably heard about Tidying Up Your Life with Marie Kondo.

The streaming sensation is a showcase of Kondo’s KonMarie method to organization. If an object brings one joy, it’s to be placed in its proper place. If it doesn’t bring one joy, it is to be removed from the owner’s setting. The gut check is taking social media by storm.

Bibliophiles got in a tizzy, however, when the KonMarie method was applied to book. After all, why would anyone want to get rid of books? This led to more than a few meme clawbacks and some harsh social media threads. I’ll spare you the latter.

A meme that says, "ideally, keep fewer than 30 books. ~Marie Kondo." Kondo is depicted next to her picture. Below is a carton of man with his hand raised as if to interrupt, saying, "no one needs that kind of negativity." It's from the Facebook page "bookslave."

Over at Culture on the Edge, I have a piece on what Kondo’s critics have missed–from the role of Shinto in her philosophy, to her point being taken out of context, to a revealing case of hypocrisy–or as I prefer, culture.

Were she petty, she might ask critics whether they’ve given thought to preservation efforts or whether hoarding little-read tomes keeps them from fulfilling the books’ ultimate purpose–to be read. If we are going to fetishize books as phenomena unto themselves, then what’s to keep someone from reclassifying one’s precious shelved books as the wards of an estate? Where’s the love in that?

Tidying Up Books and Other Cultural Essentialisms, Culture on the Edge

Hope you take a look!

Richard Newton, PhD is curator of Sowing the Seed and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. His scholarship focuses on the anthropology of scriptures. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @seedpods.

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