We’re supposed to live with dirt

A classmate once told me that had germs been visible to the naked eye none in our face-area would be visible at all. It’d be so covered with bacteria there’ll be no part of our faces left to be seen.  I remember how we laughed over the ghastly picture it presented to our imagination, but at the same time sobered by its truth.

I once again put off the the urge to transform my room into a spick-and-span condition. I’d just have to  continue hoping that no one come to visit me for now — my room’s state of disarray is embarrassing. (In case an unexpected visitor does drop by my saving grace is that my room doesn’t smell. Aside from maintaining ventilation I’ve followed some people’s tip to leave coffee grounds in open containers at a corner of the room. Also whenever I remember to do so, which isn’t too often, I wipe portions of the walls near the stove with vinegar-and-water solution. I don’t use air fresheners.)

Gye Baek ep11 (1) Gye Baek ep11 (2)Gye Baek ep11 (3)Gye Baek ep11 (4)Gye Baek ep11 (5)Gye Baek ep11 (6)Gye Baek ep11 (7)Gye Baek ep11 (8)Gye Baek ep11 (9)I have too much clutter. The books are all over, piled or stacked, on shelves and on the floor. Binders and folders line up on the shelf and on the floor. Boxes are under the table and stacked over the door. Condiments and pots and pans are beneath the teevee table. Of my 2 tables, only one-third of one has a cleared space, the other has one-fourth only. The window sill has an array of plants on big yogurt canisters. I don’t conceal the trash containers (1 for general trash, 1 for plastics, 1 for metals, 1 for paper). Since I have to be non-dependent  I decided it best to save little things that might be useful for “emergency” situations, like strings and bottles and card-boards and canisters. (However, I recently decided to discard some and resolved to not add into the collection anymore.)

I feel I ought to get more organized but the truth is that for me it’s less stressful to let things be than to go against the law of entropy. I just haven’t thought much about it but I may be “lazy” by nature — because the decades of academic discipline (waking up at 5 or 5:30 AM on school days since 8 years old) have not really “disciplined” me. I procrastinate. I focus according to interest and mood. I must have an inner motivation otherwise I yawn every minute. My brain now refuses to take in lists of vocabulary because I don’t have to take quizzes anymore. I can sit up for 8 hours straight on an interesting topic I’m surfing about but I have to get up from my seat, out of impatience, after every page of reading from a book that I “must” look into in preparation for a class.

I remember the saying “cleanliness is next to godliness”, the one drummed into us by our elementary school teachers. I guess for us then the bottom line of that was self-discipline. Whoa. I haven’t thought of that one for a long time now. So, what of it now, have I gone far from being “godly”? Hahahaha.

I learned from a Bavarian senior that even until today the Hausfrau (housewife) isn’t as looked-up to as the Karrierefrau (career woman). For many the housewife is someone “lazy”. I’m inclined to think that this absurd belief stems from the industrialization era, when concepts of just-in-time and bundy-clock precision had to be catered to in the name of “development” and, of course, profit. Hence, money. Hence, prestige. How can the housewife be associated with laziness? That’s absurd. By common sense argument her job (or the househusband’s) is the most crucial in any society.

What I am sure, though, that for now I find myself agreeing with Brian A. Haggerty’s “…there remains the fundamental question of why efficiency should occupy such a place of importance in society.”* He’s discussing a bit on how we are obsessed with, among other things, efficiency — so much so that we discard those that we find “inefficient”, like those who are of no use anymore in the industrial arena, specifically the aged.

I am inefficient in organizing my room so that it stays visitor-presentable all the time but then I think of my intestines that need bacteria in order to function. To what extent do I “clean up”? I think of the decomposers of the rotting things in the soil, and in my large intestines. I think of the ever-present germs in my oral cavity. I think of faces I’d meet on the streets (and mine in the mirror) had bacteria been non-invisible. Dirt is part of life.

In my part of the world body “odor” is suppressed. We’re efficient in it so much so that a breaking of this norm, to a certain generally accepted intensity, is considered an act of misconduct and is reprehensible. The morning full-bath is an understood must, and if possible one can’t be found to not have taken a bath before going out of the house for the day’s business. One isn’t free to smell bad. Everyone seems to disapprove of it.

I didn’t disapprove at all at Cho-young sniffing after Gye Baek (episode 11). Humans do smell. — Why shouldn’t Gye Baek smell? Why am I not free to be smelly? When and how and where did it ever start that the scent of a human is associated with negativity? How has it happened that something as natural and as “common sense” as the smell of a living human body be an avenue for discrimination? — It makes little sense to me. Each one has a particular smell and it is a mark of individuality, of particularity, of personhood — why should it be suppressed? Why are we so obsessed with the efficiency to not-smell/smell-“good”?

Which reminds me of my none-too-white teeth. Hahahaha. The craze to make the teeth white is frightening. I put turmeric in my food. I drink coffee and tea. I’m afraid I’d be punishing my enamel if I brush too hard and too frequently. I’d rather have “colored” teeth than stop using turmeric. Then there’s the matter of shampooing the hair everyday. Crazy. Even the prestigious maiko (geisha-in-training) washes her hair once a week.

———————————-

*”Out of the House of Slavery: On the Meaning of the Ten Commandments” (1978) p.81.

Note: Thanks a million to the site where I got my snapshots from.

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