People justify hoarding as curating and recycling, deeming odd objects beautiful and useful. Sometimes they act as if history were at stake.
Andy Warhol, “straddling the border between eccentricity and pathology,” the authors write, would periodically sweep everything — cash, artwork, apple cores — off his desk and into a cardboard box. He stored hundreds of these “time capsules.”
Hoarding has been linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder and its variants, and Irene, who displays contamination fears, probably meets criteria for O.C.D. But studies show that the genetics of hoarding differ from the genetics of obsessing. And while obsessionality is painful, Irene finds enjoyment in acquiring and revisiting her holdings. It is this pleasure in objects (think of Debra and the postcard) that distinguishes hoarding, in Frost and Steketee’s view. They suggest that hoarders may “inherit an intense perceptual sensitivity to visual details,” and speculate about “a special form of creativity and an appreciation for the aesthetics of everyday things.”
I liked the “Consumed” column about the “Hoarders” show on A&E, and noted duly the Vice article on shithole remediation (not really about hoarding, but god, those photos). I can’t really watch the Hoarders show or deal with all the rando old hoarders who go to my family’s church (is Greenwich village a hotbed for hoarding or is that just my personal impression?) because getting that intimate with their problems makes me uncomfortable and sad. I’d rather see these people as symbols of late capitalism or as fascinating psychological mysteries than get up in their nests of crazy.
Unless, of course, that nest is Andy Warhol’s, and its beautifully-preserved apple cores are in a museum archive. If the line between “normal,” American consumption and hoarding is pretty thin (or if, as Walker says in his column, “our ability to dispose of the evidence properly is what makes us normal), the line between archiving and hoarding is even thinner. In that there is no line, only a distinction between whose shit is worth preserving and whose shit is not.
Earlier this month, Chris Lagarde was working with a group of student volunteers in a marsh in Bay St. Louis, Miss. They discovered an entire house submerged, believed to have been pushed roughly 300 yards from its original location by Hurricane Katrina. Lagarde says he’d seen painted wood in the water for the past two years and thought it was part of a house.
ADAMS: So you’ve been driving around for years now, looking at this piece of wood in the water, and how did you figure out it was a house?
Mr. LAGARDE: Well, I actually got the opportunity last week - some kids from the University of Idaho had come down. They I asked them if they were interested in walking through the marsh on boards, and they said, yes. They were foolish enough to tell me yes, and they were actually the first ones to get on top of the house, and they started screaming at me: Mr. Chris, it’s a house, it’s a house. And of course, I’m still thinking it’s a shed. And I’m like, what do you mean, it’s a house? It’s a whole house.
ADAMS: Chris Lagarde, talking with us from Bay St. Louis. He drives around and looks for whatever he can find to help with in that city. Thank you, Mr. Lagarde.