Everything is aging.
The stacks of books in my room – ebay stock carefully sorted less than a month ago – have begun to fall into each other and form a large muddled pile on which I have begun to lay dirty clothes and newspapers.
Order requires effort to maintain. Entropy is a law of the universe. A system will naturally increase in disorder unless energy is expended to halt the process.
My car is spattered with deep orange possum urine and greasy road dust. I love my old Renault, but at present it looks as decrepit as I feel. Everywhere I settle, there is an immediate accumulation of semi-discarded objects; receipts, nicorette packets, paper bags, coke bottles, plastic doodads … all subject to the slow, steady and eternal rain of dust.
I look at myself in the mirror and see the same thing. I am unshaven, my eyes are rimmed with sleep, my hair is senseless, my clothes are random and speckled with unidentified pollutants.
Clearly, I have failed to maintain these systems. When I regard myself and my decaying environment, I feel an overwhelming sense of futility. I cannot imagine where I will find the drive to set things aright.
As a teenager, I attended a lecture by Quentin Crisp at Melbourne Uni. I took away what I thought was a pearl of wisdom:
Crisp claimed that cleaning one’s room or house was a pointless exercise, as it would merely get dirty again. He had found that after four years the mess finds a plateau and never gets any worse.
Writing this now, I wonder if he was serious, but I took him at his word. Entropy drives ordered systems to chaos – and eventually a state of complete and stable disorder is reached. I believed Crisp when he claimed that the critical period was four years.
But his claim was far from true; there are deeper levels of decay and degradation, dark abysms of filth and debris, nightmarish funnels of choking dust into which the chronically unclean may be sucked with ease. I pity the householders singled out by A Current Affair. The ‘neighbours from hell’ with the ‘filthiest houses in Australia’ … They would sympathise with my plight. Like me, they struggle to source sufficient energy to keep ahead of the laws of nature.
This slow accretion of junk that builds like plaque. Where does it come from? Some of it I do not even recognise … though I know my hands have placed it there …
Philip K Dick, in his wisdom, described it as ‘kipple’. The ‘chickenhead’ John Isidore in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? lives in the abandoned suburbs of a future San Francisco. His apartment falls ‘day by day into greater entropic ruin.’ Things ‘sag in mutual ruin, victims of the despotic force of time. And abandonment.’
‘Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders or gum wrappers of yesterday’s homeopape. When nobody’s around kipple reproduces itself … if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it.’
The first law of kipple: ‘kipple drives out non-kipple’. ‘The entire universe is moving toward a final state of total, absolute kippleisation.’
So, am I doomed? Am I already defeated in this war? Or will I find the energy to impose order on my existence?