By Leo Campos
Kipple is a fundamental concept in the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick which was made into the movie Blade Runner. It is basically a restatement of the Law of Entropy, where "kipple" means disorder. The interesting thing here, subtle as all of PKD’s concepts are, is that "kipple" seems to be the fundamental reality with non-kipple being the absence thereof. It certainly seems a pessimistic conclusion, but fitting for a dystopian future as painted by the author.
Anyone who owns children of any sort: pets, husbands or actual small humans will be familiar with the Kipple Law as stated above. Our household consists of two cats, two children and two adults. There is an impossibility of keeping anything ordered for longer than about 15 minutes, especially if my smaller child walks into a room. I am beginning to believe that he is some sort of human equivalent of Taz, the Tasmanian Devil from the Bugs Bunny cartoons - a less grumpy version, but one with equivalent destructive powers.
Then there are the cats, whose sole job it seems is the production of fur. They are generous souls and willingly spread their wealth all around the house. They are also aesthetes and will try to rectify any fur imbalances - that is, they will congregate on the cleanest room and proceed to bring it to the same level of furriness as the others.
My older son is a plopper. You know the type - 'Plop!' goes his school bag about one step in the door. "plop, plop" go his shoes about a half a step later. "Plop" goes his jacket a few steps further.
You bring clean clothes to his room and place them on the bed, so he can properly hang them, and "Plop" to the floor they go. There are two piles of clothes in his room a clean one and a dirty one - often it is hard to tell the difference. And equally often I lose patience and throw everything in the wash, only to be confronted by an annoyed 10-year old.
"Where's my favorite shorts?"
"Don't know,” I say.
"They were in my room"
"Were they put away?"
"They were on the floor," by which he means they were "organically organized."
"Well I took all the clothes from the floor and put them in the wash."
"But they were clean!" an exasperated tone in his voice.
"How was I to know?"
This usually ends the conversation, because frankly I have the "patience of the prophets" when it comes to this topic.
We are all constantly, it seems, creating, even exuding, disorder. Much of what the work of the spiritual life is about fighting these natural tendencies, it is very much a work against nature. When it comes to human life, alone or in community, kipple does indeed drive out non-kipple.
This can be seen in our theologies. One fundamental reversal is the claim that evil is the absence of God. It would seem that from the Kipple Law above it would make more sense to claim that God is the absence of evil. Clearly, if we were going to base our theology on dispassionate observation of the world and of history, it does seem to make more sense to say that all of civilization is a fight against natural barbarism, natural chaos and anarchy. Civilization is an artificial construct which can only be maintained through artificial means.
This is why we need revelation. It turns out this picture is fundamentally wrong. In the deep reality of Creation it is God who exists, and all that is not God does not, or to put it more poetically “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1).
As we go through our days, diligently combating kipple, we can be certain that this is godly work, and is God’s work. The Opus Dei, it seems, has a lot in common with house cleaning.
Brother Leo Campos is the co-founder of the Community of Solitude, a non-canonical, ecumenical contemplative community. He worked as the "tech guy" for the Diocese of Virginia for 6 years before going to the dark side (for-profit world).