December 23, 2004

The aesthetics of simplicity

Category: Personal — Biella @ 6:07 am

So I never thought that I would have steady Internet-acess in PR but as it turns out there is an open wireless connection in my mom’s “jardin.” It is a little weird to be surfing as the birds chirp, the coqui’s sing, and the bees try to drink your delicious morning cafe. But I am not complaining. It probably, along with short stints in the ocean, has helped me retain my sanity being that running errands in PR is totally maddening. But all of the major errands are now complete, with some the minor ones still loomming as they always will.

In the meantime I am doing a little work for my course next quarter and I ran into the site that ck help start and build connexions and I was reminded at how wonderful of a place it is. For example, something as simple as A Primer in Modern Intellectual Property Law which not only has great content (check out the side links) but aesthetically, it is arranged very well. Pleasing to the eye and easy to find information.

As of late as I run otherwise mind numbing errands and do domestic work, the question of aesthetics has been on my mind. Aesthetics has probably been the dominant issue in my mom’s life. The arrangement of a room, of even the ceramics on a table mattered like nothing else. She would spend hours fixing stuff so that is appearance was truly perfect. It was an obsession that worked well because our surroundings were always really nice. She had an uncanny ability to achieve what she called “la harmonia.”

About 4 years ago I came home for an extended period of time because I was sick and not getting better in the states. I found that my mom had stripped down her house to the bare minimum. She had one cup, and about 2 of everything else: 2 forks, 2 plates, 2 towels, etc. Evertything else was packed up, out of the way.

At the time I chalked it up to my mom’s general eccentricities, attributing it to some new found zen state of her aesthetic development. Little did I know at the time that this was the first serious sign of her illness, already she was having trouble differentiating things so she was simplifying her life so that the clutter of things would not get in her mental way. It is strange to think that her general obsession in life was an underlying neurological condition that eventually fully exploded around 4 years ago and has become steadily worse.

While here I have filled the kitchen with food and I generally take care of all the cooking and cleaning so she does not have to worry about the ordinary clutter I bring with me. Before I leave however, I will pack up everything extra and leave her with the bare essentials: a couple of utensils, plates etc. The fridge will be emptied out and her house will be transformed again to zen simplicity out of sheer necessity.

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