Abstract

In Purity and Danger Mary Douglas constructs a universal theory of dirt. Dirt is dirt because it stands in binary opposition to order. This universalism is questioned. To clearly show that dirt needs not offense against order, an empirical case is presented where the dirt in question is dirt by the fact that it is order. The case in question is junk mail. To theorize how order can be dirt, the paper draws upon Karl Popper’s attempt to situate creative life between the extremes of pure order and pure chaos. Some moral implications of this is discussed in relation to Zygmunt Bauman’s essay «The Dream of Purity».

Keywords: Mary Douglas, dirt, chaos, complexity, spam