“Cleanliness is next to godliness.” My wife Joan would replace cleanliness with “being organized.” Nothing to her is more important than having things in their proper place_ physically, socially, and mentally.

It is true that organizing puts items into a possibly useful pattern. But what principle of organization is the right one? There it all falls apart. Alphabetic order is not much use if you are laying out a machine to assemble. Chronological order doesn’t help if you are picking a soccer team.

The real problem is that those who want to organize assume that whatever principle we use should be simple. In reality that is not so. Life is highly organized – if it were not it would just be a stinking puddle of chemicals. Yet any doctor will tell you how far from simple your body and health are.

I do not deny that organizing is a useful tool. It can help bring a little sense out of chaos and let us gain some control over our environment. As in all things the problem lies in taking it too far, letting any given organization obscure the original whole.

Existence has infinite intersecting organizational principles. Picking one of them to develop a story or textbook is going to be not only inadequate, but also blindingly wrong.

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