The Vilani and the East Asians
By her own account, Marie Kondo was an unusual child, poring over lifestyle magazines to glean organizing techniques and then stealthily practicing them at home and school, confounding her family and bemusing her teachers.
As she writes in “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” which comes out this month in the United States and is already a best seller in her native Japan and in Europe, she habitually sneaked into her siblings’ rooms to throw away their unused toys and clothes and ducked out of recess to organize her classroom’s bookshelves and mop closet, grumbling about poor storage methodologies and pining for an S-hook. — from Kissing Your Socks Goodbye:
Home Organization Advice from Marie Kondo
I have always used the monocultural, monoracial, mono-everything East Asian cultures as a proxy of the fictional Vilani.
You know, the conformist, corporate, harmonious (and harmonized) race’n’culture matrix with the hot, hot women.
(Well, hot for different reasons: East Asian women have a reputation for being the epitome of femininity, while Vilani women are supposed to be exotically enticing. Both cultures are famed for their pragmatism and their strong ruling hand in the home.
“Why yes, you are actually going to do what we say; no we are not asking you to obey, we are telling you to obey; and yes, there will be consequences if you insist on challenging Proper Authority.”
Travelling husbands should beware: Proper Vilani marriage rites no doubt require a good life insurance policy on the husband — ‘because anything else would be irresponsible!‘ — and collecting on it, should the Good of the Family Demand It.)
Let me explain. Ms. Kondo’s decluttering theories are unique, and can be reduced to two basic tenets: Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service; and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need.
Obsessive, gently self-mocking and tender toward the life cycle of, say, a pair of socks, Ms. Kondo delivers her tidy manifesto like a kind of Zen nanny, both hortatory and animistic.
“Don’t just open up your closet and decide after a cursory glance that everything in it gives you a thrill,” she writes. “You must take each outfit in your hand.”
“Does it spark joy?” would seem to set the bar awfully high for a T-shirt or a pair of jeans, but it turns out to be a more efficacious sorting mechanism than the old saws: Is it out of style? Have you worn it in the last year? Does it still fit?
He added: “More spiritually, the idea of non-dualism is a relationship to reality that proposes that everything is inextricably connected and alive, even inanimate objects. If we are compassionate and respectful to everything that exists, then we would have to be compassionate about the socks in the drawer that aren’t folded properly.”
The Japanese are, of course, high-tech Animists.
The Vilani, on the other hand, place the focus on Tradition, Consensus and Efficiency (as well as Prosperity), so their spiritual questions are essentially different than the Japanese. Of course, they have no interest in a Creator God… but they are not Animists, either. Eternal Stability is far more fascinating, far more desirable, than either Solomani forms of spirituality.
American Christians ask no such questions, as they keep their religion in their prayer closets and cultic temples on Sundays, 11:00 to 12:30… just like the secularists overlords (and their pastors) expect them to. Anytime they get serious about obeying Christ in all of their life, let me know.
The Vilani and Imperial Power: Faith
Now, on to Marie Kondo and the Ruthless War on Stuff
Joy points upward, according to Marie Kondo, whose name is now a verb and whose nickname is being trademarked and whose life has become a philosophy. In April at the Japan Society in New York, she mounted a stage in an ivory dress and silver heels, made namaste hands at the audience and took her place beneath the display of a PowerPoint presentation. Now that she has sold nearly six million copies of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and has been on the New York Times best-seller list for 86 weeks and counting, she was taking the next logical step: a formal training program for her KonMari method, certifying her acolytes to bring the joy and weightlessness and upward-pointing trajectory of a clutter-free life to others. The humble hashtag that attended this event was #organizetheworld.
For the Vilani equivalent, see #organizethegalaxy
(They’re serious about that, too.)
Upon entering the Japan Society, the 93 Konverts in attendance…
No doubt, Shintoists everywhere will insist that they have no interest in converting anyone (ignoring Imperial Japan for the moment – and the still-glittering hatred in Chinese and Korean eyes…)
…and the Tolerance People swear up and down that they have only the deepest respect for all cultures and beliefs (with one unspoken exception…)
…and the Religion of Peace will loudly proclaim that their holy text says ‘there is no compulsion in religion’.
I can only hope that the Vilani will kindly refrain from insulting my intelligence in such a manner. I doubt it, though: old-school genocide and interstellar cultural extermination is too expensive to execute properly without the backing of an interstellar state, and the Third Imperium, even without a primarily Pure Solomani peerage, is nowhere near as Vilani-supremacist as the First Imperium.
So if you can’t kill and humiliate and oppress, you’re stuck with seduction and promises and lies.
The Vilani and Imperial Power: Promises and Reality
Granted, though: some of the Vilani promises — mainly, prosperity and stability — are kept, at least on occasion, and for a time. And — unlike the Marxists, but like the East Asian cultures, and even Islamic cultures on occasion — there really is something beautiful about Vilani culture.
(If you doubt me, compare the best of Islamic Art with the best of anything from Secularist cultures. The Arabs blow away the atheistic competition… easily.
It isn’t even a contest.)
It isn’t merely the drive to further oppress and crush their enemies, and then preen about their righteousness and nobility and perfection, that drives the Vilani forward. They actually do have a spiritual, transcendent goal; there is actually a time when no further humiliating and contemptuous cultural demands are made.
“Once you have won your victory, invite your enemy to submit… and reward him for doing so. Assuming that the goal isn’t simple extermination: and in that case, don’t play power games, just Get It Done.” – the Vilani Viewpoint
The desire for consensus is not merely a manifestation of the power of the Right Sort: many times, even the solid majority of times, the Vilani actually do want a real consensus, and are willing to spend the time and energy to build it.
“A fake, forced consensus is far too brittle a foundation for a lasting, eternal order. Too much resentment, too much hate, waiting for exactly the right moment to manifest itself.” – the Vilani Viewpoint
The above is inspired by Codevilla’s The Rise of Political Correctness. A Straussian, his main focus is on building an enduring nation-state, not the Kingdom of God (as in my case.) It is Machiavelli, not Christ or Moses, who guides Codevilla.
That being said, the leaders of the Third Imperium (and even the First!) would have infinitely more respect for Machiavelli than for Marx.
“What is to be done with a political system in which no one any longer believes?” – Codevilla
Sadly, the Third Imperium died way too young: most of her inhabitants still had a strong faith in the Iridium Throne, when Archduke Dulinor betrayed his oath and killed the Emperor and his immediate heir.
Still: life isn’t fair, and when the King is a poor judge of character…
(Guess who raised Dulinor, a trusted friend *cough, cough* of the Emperor, to the Archducal position in the first place?),
…ignoring all advice to the contrary…
(“Don’t re-empower the Archducal Domains! That will only lead to the fragmentation of the Imperium!” cried the senior members of the Nobility…)
…he won’t be the only one to pay the price for his incompetence.
Trillions of other sophonts will get to pay the price, too.
Such are the wages of leadership failure.
(You can guess my position already: “No King but King Jesus!”, “A republic, not a monarchy!”, and “Radical decentralization for the win!”
Emperor Strephon certainly was not a particularly wicked or cruel man, as sinners go: but that much power, in only one pair of hands, is just asking for trouble.)
The Vilani and the East Asians, Part II
OK, back to Marie Kondo and the Ruthless War on Stuff and the relentless Vilani drive to #organizethegalaxy
So we get a
Vilani organizational book, supported by Proper Authority — the New York Times, in this case — which proved to be a great top-seller in Solomani American culture.
By the time her book arrived, America had entered a time of peak stuff, when we had accumulated a mountain of disposable goods — from Costco toilet paper to Isaac Mizrahi swimwear by Target — but hadn’t (and still haven’t) learned how to dispose of them. We were caught between an older generation that bought a princess phone in 1970 for $25 that was still working and a generation that bought $600 iPhones, knowing they would have to replace them within two years. We had the princess phone and the iPhone, and we couldn’t dispose of either. We were burdened by our stuff; we were drowning in it.
I happen to know a couple of worlds — well, Six Subsectors — that would provide happy homes for all this technological junk. It could be very profitable, with the right entrepreneurial trading crew with a working starship and top-notch bargaining skills.
(Many purchasers couldn’t care less about the technology: it’s the valuable metal and plastics that makes their eyes shine. “Know Your Market!”)
During her lecture, Marie demonstrated how the body feels when it finds tidying joy. Her right arm pointed upward, her left leg bent in a display of glee or flying or something aerial and upright, her body arranged I’m-a-little-teacup-style, and a tiny hand gesture accompanied by a noise that sounded like “kyong.” Joy isn’t just happy; joy is efficient and adorable. A lack of joy, on the other hand, she represented with a different pose, planting both feet and slumping her frame downward with a sudden visible depletion of energy. When Kondo enacted the lack of joy, she appeared grayer and instantly older. There isn’t a specific enough name for the absence of joy; it is every emotion that isn’t pure happiness, and maybe it doesn’t deserve a name, so quickly must it be expunged from your life. It does, however, have a sound effect: “zmmp.”
Traveller is a pen-and-paper game, so I will never see a Vilani couple dance.
I am left guessing that it would be intensely mathematical, precise and elegant: something like European ballroom dancing, the classical Balinese styles, and the ancient East Indian or East Asian styles.
(Most Islamic cultures used to dance… until about 30 years ago, when Our Saudi Allies decided to use their oil wealth to spread Wahhabism.
I patiently wait for the day the oil runs out.)
As the Vilani are a communal/collectivist people, there wouldn’t be much of a focus on particular “stars” or “talented artists”: the Vilani loathe individualism, and have a ferocious case of Tall Poppy Syndrome. Sure, in marriage ceremonies and the like, the favoured couple may be allowed to shine for a bit, but the focus is on the community’s celebration of the marriage, not the union between the man and woman.
Joy is the only goal, Kondo said, and the room nodded, yes, yes, in emphatic agreement, heads bobbing and mouths agape in wonder that something so simple needed to be taught to them.
Replace “joy” with “tradition and consensus” for the Vilani.
While the desired Vilani result of Tradition, Consensus and Prosperity can be said to be joy, I think a better world would be contentment. “All is at peace, all are safe, all is right with the world.”
(Insight: both the real Japanese and the fictional Vilani are collectivist cultures, but the details differ… and the details matter.)
At Conference, I met women who organize basements. I met women who organize digital clutter. I met women who organize photos. I met women who categorized themselves as “solopreneurs,” which, what’s that now? I met a woman who organizes thoughts, and please don’t move onto the next sentence until you’ve truly absorbed that: I met a woman who charges $100 per hour for the organization of thoughts.
“Sounds like something an entrepreneur from the Imperial Core would come up with.”
“Well, Vland, actually.”
“The OLD Imperial Core, then.”
“The Vilani were always good at making money.”
“True enough. But I bet anti-psionic Inquisitors from the Imperial Ministry of Justice would like to ask a few questions. Just to be on the safe side, you understand.”
“So, if she’s a fraudulent charlatan, no problem. But if she uses psionic techniques or tools to empirically prove that the thoughts are really organized…”
“…it’s lobotomy time!”
“You know, the Imperium is a lot weirder than my civics expert program taught me…”
Finally… THE RAGE!
I heard the word “detritus” pronounced three different ways. I met a woman in camouflage (though the invitation begged us to confine ourselves to our native business-casual), who carried a clipboard and called herself Major Mom, and instead of an organizer she calls herself a liberator, like in Falluja.
“A man’s gotta advertise.”
[Insert: long-winded, wide-ranging discussion on gender and sex classification. Aslan insights optional, as well as the correct use of the word “man”.
The Tolerance People can leave.
We already know where they stand – the use of power against any public or private dissent of the ever-changing, ever-more-insulting, ever-more-contemptous Party Line – and there isn’t really anything to debate with them. Fortunately, they are not in the slightest interested in ‘discussion’ or ‘debate’, so everyone can avoid wasting their time.]
At the opening-night cocktails/trade show, I stood in front of the booth of a man advertising his cleaning service, which can tidy up crime scenes as well as hoarders’ homes,
God, I love capitalism.
and I asked some women eating spring rolls what they had against Kondo. The nice ones, struggling for something that wasn’t overtly bitchy to say, said they appreciated that the popularity of her book has brought attention to their industry, which still lobbies to be recognized by the government as an official occupation.
And the capitalists cry out for government licensing, so they can get the State to stomp out any additional competition. *Rolls eyes*
(Until that happens, the NAPO women will have to continue calling themselves “interior designers” or “personal assistants”; they would prefer “productivity consultants.”)
Right there. An peek into the Vilani Fascination with Impressive Bureaucratic Titles. From those supposedly innovative, supposedly anti-bureaucratic
Solomani American business professionals, too!
But they also feel as if they’ve been doing this for years, that “she just has one hell of a marketing machine, but she’s doing nothing that’s so different from us,” at least three of them said to me.
“Some people are favoured by the New York Times. And some are not.”
Well, yes. But then again, the Japanese have a strong cultural tradition of excellence and elegant aesthetics that is difficult to find in America….
…and definitely not to be found among Evangelical American Christians.
Just pointing out the obvious.
(I wonder if the same contrast can be found between the Solomani Confederation and the Third Imperium? Probably: many Noble houses love to surround themselves with beautiful things, and the common aspirational Imperial wants to imitate his betters.
In contrast, the Solomani Confederation is Yet Another Dreary Militarized Fascist Police State, with the usual heroic and dehumanizing architecture. You have to examine their genetically engineered lifeforms to find real Solomani excellence.)
Yet each organizer I spoke with said that she had the same fundamental plan that Kondo did, that the client should purge (they cry “purge” for what Kondo gently calls “discarding”) what is no longer needed or wanted; somehow the extra step of thanking the object or folding it a little differently enrages them.
Once upon a time, Christians — yes, even American Christians, believe it or not! — were capable of elegant, graceful living, a life infused with the Holy Spirit. After all, you don’t need to be an animist to respect and enjoy the gift of Creation God has surrounded you with.
Ah well: I guess that the West is bonded with a sterile, materialistic mechanical view of life, regardless of the religion they check in their census form.
“It’s a book if you’re a 20-something Japanese girl and you live at home and you still have a bunch of your Hello Kitty toys and stuff,” another NAPO member told me, which, while not the only thing a professional organizer told me that was tinged with an aggressive xenophobia and racism, it is the only one that can run in a New York Times article.
Yep. Definitely Solomani Confederation.
(And amusingly, this is — in real life — just one xenophobic branch of the human race hating on another xenophobic branch of that same human race. Just wait until the genetic engineers create new branches of the human species!)
Finale: People Are Interesting
I went abroad for a year to Israel after high school. While I was there, the boiler in my house in Brooklyn exploded and a soot fire destroyed all our possessions. “Everyone is O.K., but there was a fire,” my father said when I called.
That father would make an excellent Traveller personality!
I think the NAPO women have Kondo wrong. She is not one of them, intent on competing for their market share. She is not part of a breed of alpha-organizer “solopreneurs” bent on dominating the world, despite her hashtag. She has more in common with her clients. But when it comes to stuff, we are all the same. Once we’ve divided all the drawers and eliminated that which does not bring us joy and categorized ourselves within an inch of our lives, we’ll find that the person lying beneath all the stuff was still just plain old us. We are all a mess, even when we’re done tidying. At least Kondo knows it. “I was always more comfortable talking to objects than people,” she told me. At that moment, I could tell that if she had her way, I would leave the hotel room and she would spray her spray and be left alone, so she could ask the empty room if she could clean it.
I am not as introverted as Mrs. Kondo… although you have to have some introversion to write a ~3000-word blog post tying together a fictional universe, modern politics, various religions and a particular totalitarian nihilistic ideology (“waves to the Cultural Marxists”), psionics, a non-existent interstellar culture, genetic engineering, and the wonders of capitalism.
Still, if a modern Animist can ask an empty room if she can clean it, a modern Christian can offer up a blog post to Jesus Christ, that it be used for His glory and His kingdom.