Contributing to the clutter?

Our world is cluttered. Like the notice boards in old corner shops or the nineteen-eighties corridors of universities, where nobody ever took anything down, the internet suffers an endless layering of information. Not that it’s all bad. Increasingly, we search for things and depend on them being eternally (maybe) available. At other times, however, it seems that the build-up of questionably useful material will never end. At what stage does the world reach an overload of ‘stuff’: a saturation point of posts, pages, photos, videos, news, online books, courses, marketing and the like?

Brian Clark is a US writer, entrepreneur and founder of many companies. I heard him speaking on a podcast the other day. He has a test. He applies this test before he puts anything into the world. Brian Clark asks himself: ‘Does this need to be out there?’ I don’t think there’s a moral or altruistic motive along the lines of cutting down on the internet noise but, rather, more concern about keeping his own presence ‘slim’. He sees value in maintaining output that is essential, valuable and contributory. If the information is not providing a means for advancement, he would err on the side of leaving it on his screen and not letting it loose in the public sphere.

To what extent does this apply to us as artists, writers, bloggers and emailers? ‘Does this need to be out there?’ Are we generating stuff that is merely momentary with an expiration date that renders it useless in a matter of days? And, even if that is the case, perhaps it doesn’t matter anyway.

A recent blog post from Seth Godin reminded us of the editing principle that every sentence needs to serve a purpose. ‘It doesn’t exist to take up space, it exists to … move the reader from here to there.’ I am turning over in my mind, now, how art (and particularly my art) including writing (and particularly my writing) moves the viewer or reader from one place to another.

There’s nothing necessarily serious or stifling about these concepts. Entertainment, distraction, simple enjoyment and the drawing of attention are ‘moving’ processes. It would be an unmitigated disaster if all information had to be making a point, hammering an opinion or whatever.

So, does this blog need to be out there? It certainly needs to be out of my head. Would an old-fashioned notebook or journal be a better, and less world-wide-cluttering, space for the writing? Do the paintings I work on today need to be out there? Maybe a personal sketchbook instead? These questions don’t require answers from anyone else. They are for me to muse on. They are considerations for me to apply to each piece before it’s released. ‘Am I putting out there only the best I can do, only the most important, only the most effective in taking the receiver to some new place?’

Until later and, hopefully, happy journeying,


One thought on “Contributing to the clutter?

  1. the try in the why

    what exactly is clutter?
    a modern form of bread and butter?
    the spread in the sandwich of life,
    greasing the contents, spread by the knife
    that cuts and carves and smoothes the bumps
    into slippery smoothness, from tasty lumps?

    although, perhaps clutter is like an impediment,
    like a murky, opaque precipitation of sediment,
    like a stutter, that clouds and buries meaning, or so that’s what we had been lead
    to believe and now, perhaps like no time before, it’s time to shed
    this self-imposed, derisive point of view,
    and take look and hear, and a feel, and take actions anew

    is clutter
    simply a stutter?
    a repeat of an utter,
    like a very fast splutter,
    a, a double kick to the gutter,
    form of original intent,
    because with it meaning becomes bent
    with the actions
    of distractions?

    is clutter an expression neither good nor bad,
    possibly a bit confusing, sometimes sad,
    and expression to emit,
    or sit,
    by, and be on the receiving end of,
    yet really too impactful, so that it can inspire creative improv,
    to see through?…
    to the final point and actuality,
    of what needs left behind, and which rests with purpose and finality?

    is clutter like water,
    which ought to
    be life giving, but if too, too much will drown and kill,
    the will?

    can clutter form smog?
    can it slow us down and bog
    our movement forwards to a creep and crawl
    even with our headlights on high beam, and best intensions not to hit the wall
    of like traffic it creates
    before it abates?

    and are we sometimes lulled into complacency driving home in that smog
    so happy to pause, and rest, from being stuck in the log
    of other people’s glam?

    is clutter weighing down old nostalgic memories,
    in fear of being lost in the debris,
    of our ever lengthening, complex, fast lives, in expanding populations
    who can’t keep up with recording the stories and essences of ancestral relations?

    is the clutter the fierce material of stealthy oppression by the over powerful few,
    meant to drown the masses in their own stew?
    drown them so they self feed,
    in petty greed,
    and don’t see the bleed,
    of the planet’s blood, breath, spirit and soul,
    as those same few, rip us off, and to shreds, tearing at our beautiful earth, from the whole?

    can clutter serve and give rise,
    as steps and switch backs up mountains, that lift trails to highs?

    when we declutter,
    do we utter,
    in double
    the step, following step, that lifts us up the rubble?

    and as our footfall smooths a path,
    can it cast
    out, impeding clutter, to last
    long enough for others to see a trail and a way
    and find the hope to stick with it, and not to stray
    and slack
    and allow clutter to re-creep in,
    to win?

    with my two hands and feet
    I think it neat
    to lift up and move what I can,
    each day, to create and serve, and swerve, as human:
    as I make new paths and trails
    I too, make many human fails,
    yet behind me, always are other voices and feet
    kicking the clutter rocks aside in the heat,
    and the monsoon rains swish down annually
    washing feeble efforts, to new, sturdier arrangements, with precipitous glee:
    is it the try
    that opens the blue sky,
    and pace
    of space,
    of human race?

    TMB Jan 2020


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