Enthusing about litter: the potency of potential use

Again littering is a rite of passage. It colours the landscape and becomes an index of passage. Richer paths become bright with the litter of gaudily painted juice boxes. The more popular the path, the brighter the ceremonial avenue is lined with the ephemeral traces of passage. If it is a place of congregation, the litter can take one staggering proportions, spilling out.


Litter is never far from the people. If this is judged then you do not understand the point. The West which is adept at removing what it considers filthy from its sight, only to let it poison the world in far more insidious ways, cannot bear to see litter. In Jamaica, there are many people like that. But many more who nevertheless litter the place up. What should we think of litter? Some litter attracts rats and other vermin. That is bad. And hygiene is a cogent argument for order and cleanliness. But litter here represents a more complex order. It marks the passages of daily life, and the traces of it visible. The litter is present. Much of it is harmless, and being spread around where people are, it does not infect us visibly. It prevents even larger dumps. It is recycled, be it slowly, where it has marked the end of a thirst, or the end of a packet of cigerattes, or the end of the life of a car. Keeping our litter visible and well spread keeps us near to our consumption. Litter are the exhibits of consumption, they remind us of it. Advertisements proclaim consumption, litter preaches consumption.