I've just spent an hour or so washing my husband's office's windows downstairs.
Hard physical labor. Gets a sweat up. (By the way, Madame Clean says, crack out the white alcohol vinegar, and plain water, and use a little elbow grease, instead of all those... hydrocarbon derivatives that have mushroomed like little Hiroshima clouds since we got hooked on the hydrocarbon addiction. White vinegar (CHEAP, CHEAP !!!) does the job every bit as well ; I shall go into this maybe later in yet ANOTHER post on the metaphysics of cleaning, with a special mention for the politics of "the cleaning lady and money". It is one of my favorite subjects...)
While rubbing away (scientifically) methodically, I got to musing on one of Sigmund Freud's pronouncements, somewhere back there in his magnum opi (can't give you a quote... maybe it's in "Results, Ideas, Problems", HIS musings about anything and everything that came to HIS mind, and he was a very curious man, in every sense of the word.)
He speculated on a form of "psychosis" of the housewife, one whose primary symptom was monomanic devotion to housecleaning.
I love Sigmund. He is one of my favorite authors. He allows me to indulge the sin of incestual attitudes -- he can be in turn, lover, father, son, and with no guilt (on my part), because, of course... death (his..) has taken us out of the realm where we need to worry about any consequences of THIS KIND of incest... Tout bénéf, as we say in French...
As much as I enjoy being led down the primrose path by Sigmund, on occasion, THIS is ONE primrose path that I will not go down.
Cut back to window washing.
As I was washing, I NOTICED... all the areas of the room that I was NOT cleaning (and that were dirty, inevitably).
There is one thing about cleaning. If you really do it conscientiously, you can get depressed NOTICING ALL THOSE SURFACES that escape a cursory inspection. Those surfaces that you have to be down on your hands and your knees ALREADY CLEANING in order to see. There is nothing... ABSTRACT or THEORETICAL about those surfaces when you are cleaning them, I assure you.
One right after the other. The idea of infinity pops up and starts boggling your mind. When the sweat breaks, you realize just how REAL MATTER is, and HOW MUCH it is AGAINST your cleaning it. (Think carefully about the word "against". It is very interesting.)
Once you start noticing those surfaces, well, you come FACE TO FACE with that metaphysical question... JUST HOW FAR AM I GOING TO GO BEFORE I DECIDE THAT THE JOB IS DONE ??
What is... "clean" to you ?
This is a very... difficult question.
Because, in order for your place to be really clean, you would have to WORK FULL TIME AT IT (AND THIS, EVEN WITH THE MACHINES, MY FRIEND).
Obviously YOUR idea of what clean is, is probably NOT my idea.
And the dictionary will be of NO HELP deciding this question, will it ?
Back to Freud.
I suspect that Freud's diagnosis was motivated by 1) the fact that he never saw his mother, or the household help devote their full time attention to the cleaning problem. 2) the evolving position of women at the time had gone far to dissociate women from household work in the social body. 3) at ALL periods in time, household cleaning is a denigrated activity with negative connotations for everybody involved (almost...).
After musing on the question "how far will I go ?", you might consider the other questions :
WHO will clean what i don't ? (Ahem... THE CLEANING LADY WON'T, and you and I know it. She... isn't paid to clean what you WON'T or DON'T clean.)
And WHEN will it get done ?
The European Union has added an unexpected twist to this metaphysical problem.
In fussbudget, no risk fashion, it has decreed that cleaning ladies, for example ARE NOT ALLOWED TO climb onto footstools or whatever, to wash windows, or anything that might be a little difficult to access.
Too dangerous. In typical European Union fashion, it has laid REGULATORY legislation. (We say "pondre" ; it's not nice, but then the legislation is not particularly nice, and many people in European countries are getting fed up with the European Union's legalistic solutions to every problem that crops up in daily life, including cleaning...)
Kafka, anybody ?
This gives me a good belly laugh.
ANYBODY who could ever have thought that WE OR OUR SOCIAL BODY were rational, well...
Tintin, as we say in French.
Occasionally I talk to the people on my loony forum, and try to dispel their illusion that there is a... NORMAL attitude about the metaphysics of cleaning.
Like... they seem to think that normal people have clean houses..
What does THAT mean ??
i know that if I get down on my hands and knees, and start looking at those surfaces, well...
When is the job done for YOU, dear reader ?