Tuesday, March 20, 2012

An Ordered Desk, An Ordered Mind.

Some folks seem to thrive on emotional chaos. I'm not one of them. Emotional upset brings me to a standstill. I become an automaton, going through the motions, getting my work done, but nothing else. I'm not creative when I'm emotionally upset. I feel and work best when my emotions are stable and thus able to be focused on a particular task, like teaching a class or writing a story.

On the other hand, I don't subscribe to the notion that an orderly mind is always desirable, in the sense that mind represents one's ability to reason.

A friend of mine once made a comment about my cluttered desk being a sign of a cluttered mind. His own desk was a model of order, thus demonstrating his "ordered" mind. I told him, well, that's all well and good if one 'does' something with an ordered mind. If an ordered mind helps you solve real-world, or theoretical problems, then that's good. But if an ordered mind simply creates more order, that seems to be less than desirable.

In fact, I told him, the great advances in science and philosophy come out of confusion. When there is no order, the mind tries to impose order, and that's how hypotheses are formed and theories supported. How many years did Charles Darwin spend living in a state of mental confusion as he tried to sort out the problems of evolution? And yet, great order came out of that chaos. It just took a long time.

I believe I won that debate. How about you?
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25 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think you won.
I still like an organized desk though. Otherwise it's too distracting.

Charles Gramlich said...

Alex, I once had a much more ordered desk but eventually succumbed to the knowledge that it just wasn't going to stay that way.

Merisi said...

You win! :-)

Charles Gramlich said...

Merisi, thankee. :)

sage said...

My desk is anything but orderly. Thanks for giving me justification for not straightening it up!

Keith said...

A disordered desk reflects a locally high level of entropy. Since entropy is not only natural but according to the second law of thermodynamics will increase over time, we can only conclude that an orderly desk is unnatural.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I don't know what reflects what. I do know I can't work with too much clutter blocking the energy flow. On the other hand, I don't want to be OCD, so I let a little clutter around the edges.

And it sounds like you won that debate handily.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sage, glad to help.

Keith, absolutely.

Paul, I do keep a narrow area clean.

David J. West said...

I'd agree you won that. My own desk would have to be cleared a bit to do any writing with pen and paper.

Jess said...

You're a winner! My entire house in Louisiana is total disorder. It all came about when I started printing out everything I wanted to save from the Internet--all the great articles I'd come across. And emails from friends because no one writes letters anymore. :( And all those writer's magazines I can't dispose of, etc, etc. Since we're living lean in Oklahoma for a year, I hope to accomplish a lot. A test. If I'm successful, I'll go home and light a match! And btw, just read Days of Beer and loved, loved, loved it. Laughed 'til I cried. I left a review on Amazon.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, the debate's in your pocket. I think too much order can be distracting and counter-productive (Paul mentioned OCD). I'd rather go with "A cluttered desk, an ordered mind" than the other way around which is more true in my case.

Deka Black said...

I like to use a example based on Michael Moorcock's Multiverse: The desirable thing is Balance.

SQT said...

I've always been an order-out-of-chaos kind of person-- so I think you win.

Charles Gramlich said...

Jess, thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed Days of Beer. I had fun with it.

Prashant, it works for me.

Deka, agreed.

SQT. Indeed. :)

The Golden Eagle said...

Yeah, I think you won that one!

G. B. Miller (aka G) said...

I think you won as well.

While I can swing both ways when comes to a desk/cube, which usually depends on my mood at a given moment, I usually find that if my desk stays organized for an extended period of time, I have a tendency to get into a wee bit trouble.

You know, like writing short stories, blog posts, editing, etc. etc. etc.

Cloudia said...

we need fertile wild places inside - great things come from there.

We love Lana & Yourself like family. Our hearts, prayers, and best hopes are with you both, friend

Travis Cody said...

I'd award you the round, certainly.

ivan said...

There has to be depth to Darwin.

Upon publishing The Descent of Man, he considered not only himself, but other authors as fools for having attempted to write a book. Lol.

Charles Gramlich said...

Golden eagle, thanks.

G., sometimes organizing is used as a way of avoiding other work. I've done it myself.

Cloudia, thank you very much.

Travis Cody, I'll accept your vote.

Ivan, I'm coming around to that way of thinking.

Ron Scheer said...

Putting my work area "in order" is a sure sign that I'm procrastinating.

laughingwolf said...

lol... you win, as do i

if there is a level place, no matter the size, around my desk, magically, it seems, it's soon occupied

come to think of it, i seem to pile stuff ON stuff, to the point it's several feet high... yet i know what's all there... go figger

Elaine Ash said...

Some of the most out-of-control people I've met have super-orderly environments. They can't control anything else, so as long as everything around them is neat and orderly, they feel "in control." Meanwhile, life is a mess!

Rudolph Aspirant said...

It makes me feel good to declare you the winner, because I just have found here a very good excuse for myself as to why 2 months after I moved into my new appartment I STILL have not unpacked all of my stuff, and I even have a couple of plastic bags & small-medium cardboard boxes right smack in the middle of my living room, getting yesterday even a bruised knee in the process of tripping over one of them ! Actually my work desk at the office, which is NOT known to be the most orderly one in the building is more neatly organized than my new appartment.

Snowbrush said...

"When there is no order, the mind tries to impose order, and that's how hypotheses are formed and theories supported."

I take a somewhat different view, being a person who would never have a cluttered desk for very long. My view is that your view is entirely correct, but it hardly wins you the debate. Instead, it proves your friend's point rather than you own, because whereas he has already done all those glowing things you mentioned that one does in the presence of disorder, you yourself haven't even started.