Headiness of Spring Cleaning

Wolfgang Tillmans

I had a highly complicated scaffolded reaction to a spring cleaning talk that I’m attempting to unravel.  It led to a revelation, and that I’ll try to unravel too.  It took place in a series of metaphors – which made me happy, because I have trouble with stark simplicity.   The metaphors laid out in synagogue yesterday situated the concept of housekeeping to an egg within an egg – fine in itself, as it went from messiness to holiness in a single jump. I delighted in that lofty jump, although I came to a roadblock with the structure that Rabbi Flam sketched out.

How to convey.  Listening to the rabbi’s first mention of housekeeping – this is the season of removing flour, crumbs and junk from the kitchen and cleaning the home for Passover – I felt slightly queasy.  Order = holiness? Here, we part.  If you’re Venus, I’m Mars.  I’m simply compositionally different.  But something spoke to me.  As I was cleaning kitchen shelves this morning, listening to a comedy news show and reflecting on how Jews clean with a feather for Passover, about my mother, about the history of housekeepers, mental hygiene and the like, I came to certain clarities about my own nature. 

I looked at my curated notion of decorating – the piled magazines on a bronze table, books on the wooden antique bench, the stacks of travel pamphlets, the drawings, boxes, etc.  The proliferation of contrasting patterns, the color.  Curious photographs. My structure has its own particular structure. 

This paradigm of my house – all those wandering rooms filled with bright, conversational curiosities – also resembles my mind. Having given up the fiction that I might become a neatnik, or “organized,” I can only thin and balance this thriving chaos, the paradoxes and prisms of thought where voices and objects are somehow part and parcel of each other, part of a metaphor that contained the banal and cosmic, in synagogue and in my mind and hasn’t quite thinned out yet.

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