Indeed, where does this need for cleanness come for? Perhaps you belong to the group of people who regard cleanness as an imperative? Nevertheless, even if you cannot imagine your daily routine without dusting, washing up the dishes, personal hygiene and spatial hygiene, it is highly unlikely that the reasons for such need seem more transparent to you than the reasons for their own tolerance of uncleanness (or dirt) are unintelligible to other people. The obsession for cleanness goes hand in hand with the desire for order - namely, for many people, cleaning is the synonym for order, therefore, cleaning to them means tiding up, arranging things in the right place, despite the indefinite question: what is the right place for an object? One thing is clear: if you practice the cleanness rituals without a high degree of guilty conscience or if you practice them in order to overcome a guilty conscience, then you belong to the group of socialised people because the culture and its institutions act in a way that they impose a guilty conscience about uncleanness. All cultural segments that offer ready-made models for proper life point to this and they are most evident in the advertisements, which constantly compete in saturating the market with products that successfully help the struggle against uncleanness. In other words, the conventional culture sanctions its citizens to believe that the values of cleanness are part of the civilised people’s habits. There is another group of people who have a guilty conscience caused by cleanness. Unfortunately, this feeling, though not rare, is not supported by cultural institutions, including the church. As such, this group of people have no choice but to quietly endure their contradictory drives for uncleanness because the culture refuses to channel them. Women especially nourish the habit of cleanness - statistics reveal that in the life of a heterosexual couple it is the woman who is the stronghold of hygienic habits, whereas the man adopts a more careless, indifferent and at times even an aggressive attitude towards cleanness. For many women, dusting is part of the self-cleaning ritual. Cleaning as a result of nervousness or neurosis is a common type of female struggle against anxiety. Such habits are not accidental. In her book Purity and Danger, Mary Douglas treats these issues from an anthropological point of view for the first time: “Absolute uncleanness does not exist, it is formed in the eye of the beholder.”, - she wrote - “We feel uncomfortable about uncleanness not because of fear, let alone awe or terror of God. In addition, the variety of our hygienic habits cannot be explained with our notions for the life-threatening diseases. Uncleanness is a breach of the order…”2
Territorial issues related to the phenomenon of order and disorder are treated as controversies, at the very least. Many of us, for instance, are ready to agree with the theoretical postulates of globalisation such as strengthening the humankind, transforming all people in a single unique and equal global force, which is no longer torn among each other by mutual wars and conflicts but it aims to become an ethical formation, an astral force that will explore time and space and humanise the universe. If this is the case, why do, then, all visions of global life, Huxley’s Brave New World, Zemjatin’s We, and Orwell’s 1984, that deal with unified and normative world, a world of ultimate order, describe cleanness as sterility, a hygienic numbness and a counterpoint to our own experiencing of humanity? We are not discussing the levelling of cultural differences but rather purifying the differences between the cultural filth and tribal reek, i.e. banishing (both culturally and physically) the uncleanness of our lives and implementing the ultimate fatal Orwellian cleanness. The territory of cleanness is obviously an easily manipulated territory, a territory that lies on a property that has already been inaugurated. Cleanness is always managed by an owner. It makes use of business managers that operate with it thus becoming part of the realm of the subject’s economy. Who is the owner?
Uncleanness, in other words, guarantees the failure of every subjectification as well as the rigidity of the order. For instance, when a bank clerk issues cheques, he requires that you put the same signature you used to sign your name with yesterday, and this seemingly naïve administrative request is a process of identity stabilisation, materialised through the signature. For years now I have found this a traumatic experience, my signature is never the same as the one I signed yesterday; a poem I have read in the morning makes me different from myself i.e. what I was yesterday. The bank does not even take into consideration the possibility of an interim transformation and often kindly asks from the clients to ‘act’ or perform their signature, kindly offering another cheque for comparison. Culture demands from its subjects to be stable; its institutions want to see the stabilised subject in us once and for all. Consequently, faced with such cultural expectations, people highly value and often admire stability as a characteristic in other people. Most of the emotional articles give simple advice: find a stable partner because “People eventually end up with honest people”. Stability, therefore, is perceived as a synonym for honesty. A friend of mine complained that his wife used to be a wonderful person when he met her but is no longer the same person after several years of marriage. Our social perception and our social valuation of other people are greatly based on the belief that today a subject should be the same as he was yesterday. Neither repositioning reduces the sin of betrayal of one’s own stability. These expectations are derived from the way an agreed culture works, a culture which can easily count its subjects and place them on a map. All cultural institutions are included in this struggle for stability: schools, prisons, hospitals, marriages etc., to list few of the favourite places of Michael Foucault. Many years ago, the news that state officials in San Francisco were allowed to have sex change operations was announced, including the fact that a large part of the expenses would be covered by the social insurance i.e. the state budget. Though liberal in nature, this example only proves that the state silently agrees with our metamorphoses only if its apparatus is large enough to categorise them i.e. control the changes. Transsexuals are welcome, even stimulated to exercise their human rights, as long as the sophisticated state administration can have a reciprocal insight in the conversion and the culture can minimize the revolt against the order by allowing seemingly greater freedoms.