We moved apartments recently and realized we own way too much stuff. So my wife bought us a book called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing"
It was an interesting read with a simple message: Discard anything in your life that doesn't bring you joy. The result will be naturally be a less cluttered physical space. But also, according to the author, Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo, the process of de-cluttering physical space will bring clarity to other aspects of life such as relationships and business.
It's hard for me to judge whether it works or not, because I can't seem to get rid of my miscellaneous items, or"komono." The thing I got stuck on was my boxes of mini-DV tapes. My footage is all backed up on hard drives, but I just like knowing that I have all of my pre-memory card filmmaking career from 2004-2011 on the original tapes. They mean so much to me. They represent a craft that I feel so lucky that I got to do for so many years. They represent learning. Exactly 845 hours of learning. That's how many tapes I counted. They are now stored in 4 big carton boxes and 3 old shoe boxes.
In a way, they tell their own story without needing to be played. They are just like an old love letter or an old photograph. They are Instanostalgia. Some of the tape jackets are stained with blood and black, sweaty ink smudges. Others have red dirt and/or sand in them. Some of them are cracked from a car accident I was in in Iraq. Others are meticulously documented with every memorable shot or interview scribbled on the Sony or Panasonic branded paper stock. Some have just one or two words: Earthquake, Cuba, Bibi int, Hamas rally. I knew what it all meant.
I don't think I'll ever throw away these tapes even though I'll probably never play them again. The films that came out of them now live on websites like the nytimes.com and Amazon Prime. I like knowing that if the web somehow ceased to exist, these tapes would still be playable. But more importantly, they represent something greater, both personally, but also, in a sense, for mankind. They are a tiny sliver in the long history of technology. Darn. It looks like I'm condemned to clutter. I'll be shlepping these 845 dust collectors with me the rest of my days.