I am on my way to becoming a minimalist. Would you ever consider it?

I found the article below intriguing.....

So what is this whole minimalism thing all about? To tell you the truth, it’s quite simple: to be a minimalist you must live with less than 100 things, and you can’t own a car or a home or a television, and you can’t have a career, and you have to be able to live in exotic hard-to-pronounce places all over the world, and you have to start a blog, and you can’t have any children, and you have to be a young white male from a privileged background.

OK, we’re joking. Obviously. But people who dismiss minimalism as some sort of fad usually mention any of the above “restrictions” as to why they could “never be a minimalist.” The truth is that minimalism isn’t about any of those things, but it can help you accomplish many of them if you’d like. If you desire to live with less material possessions or not own a car or a television or to travel all over the world, then minimalism can lend a hand. But that’s not the point.

Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.

That doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with owning material possessions. Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff. We tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves. Want to own a car or a house? Great, have at it! Want to raise a family and have a career? If these things are important to you, then that’s wonderful. Minimalism simply allows you to make these decisions more consciously, more deliberately.

There are plenty of successful minimalists who lead appreciably different lives. Our friend Leo Babauta has a family and six children and lives in San Francisco. Joshua Becker has a career he enjoys, a family he loves, and a house and a car in suburbia. Conversely, Colin Wright owns 51 things and travels all over the world, while Tammy Strobel and her husband live in a “tiny house” and are completely car-free in Portland. Even though each of these people are different, they all share two things in common: they are minimalists, and minimalism has allowed them to pursue purpose-driven lives.

But how can these people be so different and yet still be minimalists? That brings us back to our original question: what is minimalism? If we had to sum it up in a single sentence, we would say, Minimalism is a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

Minimalism has helped us:

Eliminate our discontent
Reclaim our time
Live in the moment
Pursue our passions
Discover our missions
Experience real freedom
Create more, consume less
Focus on our health
Grow as individuals
Contribute beyond ourselves
Rid ourselves of excess stuff
Discover purpose in our lives
By incorporating minimalism into our lives, we’ve finally been able to find lasting happiness. And let’s face it: that’s what we’re all looking for, isn’t it? We all want to be happy. Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself. Thus, it’s up to you to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous in your life.

Through our essays we intend to present to you ideas of how to achieve a minimalist lifestyle without adhering to a strict code or an arbitrary set of rules. A word of warning, though: It isn’t easy to take the first steps, but your journey towards minimalism gets much easier—and more rewarding—the farther you go. The first steps often take radical changes in your mindset, actions, and habits. Fret not, we want to help; that’s why we’ve documented our experiences, so you can learn from our failures and successes, applying what we’ve learned to your own situation, assisting you in leading a more meaningful life.

Source: http://www.theminimalists.com/minimalism/

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I agree with you. But really you have a sort of minimalist philosophy there without knowing it. I'm not saying you must subscribe to a certain label about yourself, but from what you've described, I would say you are very much a minimalist.

Minimalists have created some of the best music, art, literature and cinema in modern times. My favourite minimalist classical work is Shostakovich's 5th symphony. Phillip Glass and Arvo Part are also minimalists (though one can argue a lot if Glass's music is so minimalist it's the repetition of the same thing all the time). Consider giving them a listen.

Kurt Vonnegut and Roald Dahl (his adult works) were also minimalist. Cutting out the padding, getting to the point, letting the reader fill in many of the blanks.

Minimalist philosophy, as well, has it's grand moments in works like Dao te ching, the parliament of the birds and, closer to modern times, the works of Blaguer and some of Boghosian's works are minimalist. They are well worth the read.

As for cinema. Can you think of minimalist films?


I love Philip Glass. This is the first track of the soundrack to Mishima by Glass. Please listen to the buildup, but absolute musical magic happens at 1:28!

Thanks for that Unseen, I had forgotten about that one.

I think Mishima would count as a fairly minimalist movie as well. A limited number of characters. Even the outdoor scenes are done on a set. It's a great little movie about one of the most interesting writers of the 20th Century.

He was a Japanese novelist who pined for the days of the Samurai. He was drawn toward reactionary militarist causes and in the end proved his fidelity to his ideals through a ritual suicide ending in his decapitation by katana.

There's a minimalist documentary coming out soon....

I'm not familiar with how literature can be considered "minimalist" though.....Never thought about that....hmmmmm

Kurt Vonnegut wrote a lot of books in a minimalist style. One of my top 5 books of all time is by him (Cat's cradle), which by the way, is a sustained critique of religion, superstition and indifference, is extremely minimalist. His "Breakfast of Champions" and "Slaughter House 5" are less about religion but still rather minimalist. By minimalist I mean the padding in the narrative is mostly absent (descriptive text, digressions, excessive use of adjectives, multiple plots, describing the thoughts of each character) and the pace is relatively brisk. I find minimalist works express the theme/concept/lesson more effectively than larger books, especially when each new chapter in quick succession clearly deal with the theme unrelentingly. This might explain why Paul Coelho's terrible books are so popular. 

Saramago's last two books were quite minimalist as well...both also deal with atheism. The Journey of the Elephant is just on the border of minimalism and religious critique while Cain (another of my top 5) is clearly minimalist and an utter assault on Christianity. Most chapters lack periods and quotation marks as the narrative flies by. Read it for yourself and you can tell me if you agree.

Minimalist writing? Isn't that what short stories are about. One of the main dictums of writing a short story is "no more detail than is needed to tell the story." 

Some of the films Glass has provided soundtracks for movies that certainly qualify in some sense of minimalism, like Koyaanisqatsi in which there is no real dialog other than that word pronounced by an ethereal voice in the beginning). Even Mishima is pretty minimalist.

Yes indeed Unseen. The one time I truly enjoyed Glass's music was watching those films! Definitely worth a watch. In the most minimalist traditions...the films say everything without saying anything.

I don't see how music can be minimalist.

Classical music can be extremely complex and ornate or very minimalist. Compare the opening of Bach's piano concertos with Rachmaninov's 3rd piano concerto.

Normally in a symphony there are at least 5 different lines of music (meaning one group of instruiments follow the same tone and rythm) and the 5 different lines can be quite different. Think of the Scherzo from Beethoven's 9th symphony and pretty much the majority of Baroque music. Minimalist music reduces this to two or three lines and even then...the lines don't differ from one another much...think Schostakovich's 5th symphony (a work written during the horrors of Stalinism which, even though minimalist has subversive messages of protest hidden within. Minimalist doesn't mean slow or simple, it's more the focus on only a few ideas and limited complexity.

In modern music...you can compare Elektra by Strauss which is extremely complex and highly dramatic with Part's 4th symphony. It's pretty clear which one is minimalist.


Like the king said...Amadeus W. Mozart uses "too many notes" I loved that line from the flick.  

Schostakovich's 5th symphony is stunning, I am surprised I liked it so much....it does get a bit monotone and forceful at times.... Debussy, Ravel and Satie manage to orchestrate one or a few parts so skillfully and beautifully... I do not consider them minimalists but some see them as beginning of the style.


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