We humans are affected by all kinds of unexplained, compulsive behaviours, even if we don’t like to admit it. Whether it’s shopping, hoarding, eating, gardening, cleanliness or tidiness, we all have a few deep-seeded obsessions that we use to maintain order within our lives. If something is amiss, dismayed, shuffled up or messy; regardless of how you might feel about the situation, most of us want to dive in and fix it. For example; tidying. Not all of us, but a large majority tend to become unsettled and ‘fidgety’ when something isn’t how we might personally like it to be. Maybe there has been something left on the table or floor that you needed to clean up. Or perhaps the books on the library bookshelf were a bit muddled from all those people taking and/or returning them. There is a certain delight in finishing a mundane task or duty that requires maybe only a little of our brain power, but nonetheless satisfying once accomplished.
Take the Desk Egg by Fred & Friends. This little piece of office stationary plays on this idea that humans need order. Paper clips are one of those fiddly, unorganised stationary that are often never kept tidy or ordered. Furthermore, due to the fiddly nature of the paper clip human beings like to play and interact frequently with them, causing us to have them lying around desks all the time and not being used for its intended purpose. The Desk Egg creates harmony for a disorganised, chaotic object. Looking further at the object itself, the way the paper clips are arranged around the egg serves as a visual reminder of order and calamity – something we humans are always seeking. What’s interesting is how we see order in this object through the white, unblemished, perfectly round egg, contrasted with the disorder of the paper clips. However, the feeling subsides when we realise the egg is symbolic of ourselves surrounded by a sea of disharmony and shows that we are in control. It also serves as a visual reminder of how close we constantly are to chaos and disharmony in life, but at the same time somehow manage to stay within the boundary of sanity and order.
Order and chaos is often synonymous with good and evil. It only makes sense then that we strive to seek the good in everything and steer far away from the bad. This never ending battle with order and meaning in life may be the reason for developing such compulsive behaviours like we do. By maintaining order, it’s like we need to constantly remind ourselves that everything is well and that we’re good people living amongst the evil in the world. We just want to maintain control. That’s what it comes down to isn’t it? Order is just a way of establishing our own control in life. In Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”, the Joker is described by himself as an ‘Agent of Chaos’. In the hospital scene with Harvey Dent, the Joker says to Dent “Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos”. The Joker is a scary character for more reasons than one, but what resonates the most with viewers is his willingness to ‘upset the established order’. We can relate the Joker to evil for those same reasons – Joker = chaos. Chaos = Evil. The scene cleverly illustrates how easy it is for humans to become unstable when order is not maintained. GWATRY01 on the blog site ‘Fovea’ wrote “When faced with a view of the world that we find contradictory to our own, we may become defensive, angry, confused, and frightened.” This ties in well with the character depiction of the Joker because he explores the way humans tend to fear the unknown and we don’t like to entertain ideas or perceptions that don’t agree with our own.
Humans need control. In our search for meaning and purpose in life we force ourselves to perform or act out certain tasks in an effort to deal with something that doesn’t agree with or make sense to us. As part of this, we develop compulsive behaviours to maintain order amongst what we think is a chaotic experience or situation. It seems as though our search for purpose in life is becoming more and more depressing – but lets not dwell on things we cannot control. I think it’s fine to maintain order in our lives, as long as it doesn’t define us. Order and control can be just as destructive as chaos itself. We need to find balance in our lives, not one thing or another.