One of the many ideas in Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? that you won't find in its movie adaptation, Blade Runner, is the concept, the spiritual warning, the call-to-arms against the relentless, creeping presence of kipple in our lives.
According to Dick, kipple is "useless objects" — say, blunt half-dried Sharpies, Office Depot coupon flyers, last week's Mountain Xpress, etc., that pile up inside a person's house. The trouble with kipple is that it reproduces itself when you're not looking – go to bed with an unlabeled, burned CD lying on your desk, and when you wake up in the morning there will be three, and two will be scratched.
In Electric Sheep, believers in the prevailing religion of the day have turned kipple into a kind of futuristic demon. Lives are spent on this terrestrial plane fighting off its influence – a fight that all inevitably lose. "No one can win against kipple," explains one believer. "Except temporarily and maybe in one spot." A balance between kipple and non-kipple can be struck, but once you die, the kipple takes over. Anyone who's ever been to an estate sale knows this.
But the real reason it is vital to check its presence constantly and refuse to let it get a leg up in our household, is that kipple drives out all non-kipple. All that is of value is driven out, if kipple is not kept in check.
This is especially true for junkers. They are kipple's keepers – sifting it to find the few valuable grains of worth in a Sahara Desert of debris, and then dispensing with the detritus. To junk for funds is to take things in on spec, and spec only pans out a small percentage of the time. But speculations pile up and the junk of value leaves quickly – every sale in effect increases your stock's net worthlessness.
Every junk store, secondhand shop, thrift store or flea market is a temple of kipple and an ode to failure – 90 percent of stock in a thrift store or antique mall will never sell, will never even be looked at. It simply sits on a housewares shelf and multiplies itself into eternity.
With these thoughts in mind, I finally recently decided to face my dangerously kudzued, kipple-ated attic.
The impetus for this expedition is an upcoming neighborhood yard sale that will be taking place this Saturday, Sept.19, when the folks from the Olney Road and Vermont Avenue areas will throw their kipple into the streets for the good people of Asheville to see and share. No early birds!
I have one of those attics that is half-finished, with actual floorboards and half-assed paneling on the rafters, almost a second floor but not quite because the ceilings are too slanty. This space has served many purposes over the last ten years – library, writing retreat, recording studio, storage space for all of my mother-in-law's possessions (twice, both times awesome), computer monitor graveyard. You get there by stepping out onto my back porch and going up a flight of stairs, which makes it a distinct space from the house proper. Its liquidity of purpose eventually rendered its functionality vague, and for the last few years it's served as a dump zone for efforts in ground level kipple-control. Magazines, paperback books too good to pass up at a quarter, unwanted Christmas gifts, old T-shirts, miles of oxidized speaker wire, furniture too nice to be curbed, interests adopted and abandoned — if it was brought in and then couldn't be faced, up into the attic it went.
Now it needs to leave. I have learned to no longer bring everything into the house that looks interesting or may have some kind of value. But not bringing it in is not enough – the stuff is breeding. There is NO WAY I had, back when I actually owned a VCR, 20 unlabeled videotapes, all stopped at their exact midpoint. Is there?
So here I am, shamelessly and happily kippling up valuable newspaper space by plugging my yard sale – this Saturday! We're on the corner of Olney and Maple Crescent. Huge! Multifamily! Estate! Vintage! No baby stuff! Other folks will have stuff out in the area, so your "score potential-to-mileage" ratio couldn't be higher. And forget what I said about it all being junk. It's all GREAT!
The only trouble is, the attic is currently too crowded to price and process all this stuff. In order to get it to the yard, I have to bring it back down to ground level. So now it's down here, all around me, slowly breeding. Hopefully there'll still be a house by the time of the yard sale, not just a big pile of kipple.