Significant Objects Meme (9)

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In today’s New York Times Sunday Book Review, the psychiatrist Peter D. Kramer reviews Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things (Houghton Mifflin), by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee. His conclusion:

To those who need to understand hoarders, perhaps in their own family, “Stuff” offers perspective. For general readers, it is likely to provide useful stimulus for examining how we form and justify our own attachments to objects.

“Useful stimulus” — ho-hum. When our own Rob Walker wrote about the A&E reality show Hoarders in December 2009, he was much more direct, even confrontational:

The scariest reading of “Hoarders” is that these freakish piles of stuff it documents simply reflect what plenty of us consume as a matter of course; our ability to dispose of the evidence properly is what makes us normal. “The line between the people on our show, who have very severe cases of the disorder, and, you know, most of the population,” [“Hoarders” producer] Sharenow says, “is kind of thin.”

Ninth in an occasional series.


Joshua Glenn is an editor, publisher, and a freelance writer and semiologist. He does business as KING MIXER, LLC. He's cofounder of the websites HiLobrow, Significant Objects, and Semionaut; and cofounder of HiLoBooks, which will reissue six Radium Age sci fi novels in 2012. In 2011, he produced and co-designed the iPhone app KER-PUNCH. He's coauthored and co-edited Taking Things Seriously, The Idler's Glossary, The Wage Slave's Glossary, the story collection Significant Objects (forthcoming from Fantagraphics), and Unbored, a kids' field guide to life forthcoming from Bloomsbury. In the '00s, Glenn was an associate editor and columnist at the Boston Globe's IDEAS section; he also started the IDEAS blog Brainiac. He has written for Slate, n+1, Cabinet, io9, The Baffler, Feed, and The Idler. In the '90s, Glenn published the seminal intellectual zine Hermenaut; served as editorial director and co-producer of the pioneering DIY and online social networking website; and was an editor at the magazine Utne Reader. Glenn manages the Hermenautic Circle, a secretive online community. He was born and raised in Boston, where he lives with his wife and sons. Click here for more info.

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