Delete My Facebook Account? But What About My Memories?

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I recently imagined a conversation between famed declutter-er Marie Kondo and the notoriously disorganized poet Elizabeth Bishop. “Do they spark joy?” Kondo would ask, while Bishop, as instructed, considered scraps of paper, used cocktail napkins, and notebook pages on which she’d written bits of text in her shaky alcoholic’s hand. “I don’t know yet,” she says.

Kondo and Bishop are diametrically opposed on the question of ephemera. Kondo’s minimalism is all about detangling meaning from material; Bishop is the poet laureate of stuff. Her best work came from the scrap heap, literally. She was always scribbling, she said, “in someone else’s house, or in a bar, or standing up in the kitchen in the middle of the night.” She was a panicked person, a survivor of childhood traumas and many lost loved ones; she wrote things down with the frenzy of someone grabbing everything they can as they flee…

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