Category Archives: Simplicity

On simplicity, frugality, anti-consumerism, and other ways to save your hard-earned writer’s paycheck

Review: The Art of Discarding and Goodbye, Things

nagisasasaki (None of these are affiliate links; they’re simply provided for your convenience.)

As I look forward to another move this summer, I’ve sought fresh decluttering inspiration two new-to-the-U.S. books on decluttering and minimalism: The Art of Discarding by Nagisa Tatsumi and Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki. Although neither offers new insights to experienced minimalists, I found Goodbye, Things to be the most motivational of the two and a good complement to other works on decluttering and minimalism .. and not just because his comment “I can move out of my home in thirty minutes” (Sasaki, 2017, p. 162) sounds so promising.

I picked up The Art of Discarding by Nagisa Tatsumi with some excitement, since it was the book that inspired Marie Kondo, whose book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up I read and reviewed shortly after its English-language publication in 2014. Unfortunately, Discarding suffers the same problem any early work within a genre suffers — the information in it now feels stale after reading Kondo’s book, which so skillfully incorporated and expanded on Tatsumi’s insights. Although I did learn a little more about Tsukomo-gami and the Japanese perspective on the souls of things from the introduction, in general the advice here is pretty run-of-the-mill for anyone who’s already read a few works on decluttering, especially Kondo’s.

One can certainly see the origins of many of Kondo’s insights here, though; for example, Tatsumi titles one section of her book ” ‘Sometime’ never comes,” just as Kondo titles a section of her bok “Unread books: ‘Sometime’ means ‘never.’” Yet there are differences, however; places where Kondo moves beyond her inspirational mentor. For example, Tatsumi advises readers that perfection is impossible: “But even I can’t claim to stick to all this advice all the time. Just take the points that feel right to you and implement them as far as seems reasonable” (Tatsumi, 2017, Loc. 881 or 1618 [Kindle]). By contrast, Kondo argues, “It is not hard to tidy up perfectly and completely in one fell swoop. In fact, anyone can do it. And if you want to avoid rebound, this is the only way to do it” (Kondo, 2014, p. 20). But in general you’ll find more similarities than differences between these books. It’s also worth nothing that Tatsumi is focused on “discarding” — by which she means throwing away or recycling (Loc 1469 of 1618) — whereas Kondo sees decluttering as the first step toward wholesale lifestyle revision (Tatsumi, notably, has nothing to say about folding strategies or sparks of joy).

I hesitated a few days before buying Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki for two reasons. First, I’ve never been a fan of extreme minimalism and was glad when the minimalist movement broadened, and second, I’d read enough about the new Japanese minimalism online in the summer of 2016 that I wasn’t sure the book was going to offer anything new. When I began reading the book I cringed, because it starts with a series of photos of extreme minimalists’ living spaces and backpacks of possessions; exactly the sort of barren spaces that make most non-minimalists recoil and never want to read a minimalist work again. But it got better, and if you’re looking for a book to inspire you to declutter, I’d say this makes an excellent complement to Kondo’s Life-Changing Magic, especially if you’re wary of the “sparks joy” criterion. It’s also a good addition to other books, such as Peter Walsh’s and (written all the way back in the 1990s) Don Aslett‘s useful books on decluttering.

Sasaki is an extreme minimalist, and that lifestyle’s not going to resonate with a lot of readers (although it’ll probably set a few afire with minimalist passion). But his introduction is an interesting set of speculations about why we accumulate clutter and how it affects us, touching on issues such as existential angst and social value. His “55 tips to help you say goodbye to your things” and “15 more tips for the next stage of your minimalist journey” are short and very readable, boil down the wisdom offered by other writers (including Kondo, Petri Luukkaisen’s My Stuff documentary, and the unattributed Derek Sivers, who advised in 2009, “If you’re not saying ‘HELL YEAH!’ about it, say ‘no.’”), and sometimes thought-provoking.

Just as I found Kondo’s advice to hold an item and ask if it “sparks joy” to be an unexpectedly useful way to get in touch with my feelings about things (INTJ here….), I found Sasaki’s comments about accumulating stuff to project an image or to cling to a past self a useful reality check (Miss Minimalist blogged about “fantasy self” clutter in 2011, although Aslett touched on the same concept in his 1990s books). Similarly, I liked Sasaki’s exhortations to view stores as our personal warehouses and the city as our personal floor plan — not always realistic options for those who aren’t fairly well-to-do and living in an urban environment, but a useful reminder that none of us are obliged to accumulate all the paraphernalia required to entertain at home if we don’t want to. Finally, Sasaki discusses throughout the book the amount of time and energy that seeing, working around, and thinking about Stuff took up for him, and I completely sympathize. I realized years ago that I work better in an environment that focuses me on my goals and offers little other visual distraction. I’m looking forward, in fact, to better organizing my environment after this summer’s move so that writing things like my novels and this blog will come more naturally than they have in my current living space. (As it happens, I’m writing this post in my university office, which is much better-suited for writing than my home!)

In addition, Sasaki’s comments about letting go of gifts, memorabilia, and inherited items are similar to Kondo’s and Peter Walsh’s but may be much-needed reinforcement for those still struggling with sentimental clutter. Of course, as an extreme minimalist, Sasaki pushes beyond Kondo’s advice when, in his “15 more tips,” he  suggests “Discard it even if it sparks joy” (Sasaki, 2017, p. 145). However, like most contemporary minimalists, and despite his own extremes, Sasaki emphasizes that everyone must understand their own motives for wanting to declutter, and that every minimalist’s minimalism looks different. Very true. Because as much as I hate clutter, I’ve got a closet full of Faire and steampunk costumes that aren’t going into a donation pile anytime soon.

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Minimalism: Where It’s Been, Where It’s Going

kongobujiBack in 2008 I began writing occasional posts about minimalism. I wrote about why I don’t like television, even though I’m a media scholar (or maybe that’s why); about the emotional strain of going through my very non-minimalist mother’s possessions after her death; about objects  and ownership in terms of magical thinking; and about the relationship between photographs and fear of ephemerality. Then in my early 40s, I explained why I found extreme minimalism  — often touted, it seemed to me, by young men and women in their 20s  — problematic (my post pissed off ex-minimalist blogger Everett Bogue) and listed my own moderate “rules for stuff“. I also pointed out that minimalism isn’t necessarily all those great things that minimalist bloggers like to tell you it is.

I haven’t blogged much about minimalism lately, in part because one of my own minimalist choices has been to avoid blogging if I have nothing significant to say. However, recently I’ve been thinking about how the minimalist lifestyle movement has changed in the last seven years and what its future might be, and I’d like to offer my reflections to others for consideration.

I believe the minimalist lifestyle movement has matured quite a bit since the ’08s, in part because those early, extremist minimalist bloggers have either moved on or mellowed out, and in part because a greater diversity of voices have joined the discussion — people of different ages, ethnic backgrounds, nationalities, and marital and parental statuses are now blogging about their experiences (Miss Minimalist’s Real Life Minimalists feature is a good way to get to know some of them). I remember when Joshua Becker and Leo Babauta seemed to be the only minimalist parents who were blogging — and not surprisingly, both were moderate voices among the extremist majority. Now most minimalist bloggers happily acknowledge that there’s no one-size-fits-all minimalism. Lifestyle choices that work well for young, single professionals, such as digital nomadism, tiny houses, and bare rooms, may not seem as attractive when spouses, children, and/or dependent parents enter the equation. Moreover, extreme minimalism doesn’t work well for certain jobs, hobbies, or choices; for example, art, sewing, canning/preserving, home-schooling, and the like all require a fair amount of paraphernalia, even though those pursuing them may still be minimalists in all other respects. (The book Essentialism reminded us of the importance of organizing and streamlining one’s activities to achieve one’s goals and offered a useful term, “essentialism,” that sidesteps some of the “stuff” baggage tied up in “minimalism.”)

Over the years, the minimalist lifestyle blogosphere has also engaged in healthy self-reflection, some of it occurring early but more kick-started by Everett Bogue’s infamous 2011 “Fuck Minimalism” post. Various writers, minimalist or not, have noted that obsessing about stuff is in itself a form of materialism, and that minimalism may be counterproductive for the creative. Some minimalists have realized that discarding objects that don’t “spark joy” is problematic if they discard so much that they don’t have what they need anymore — for example, it’s not cheap to replace an entire wardrobe. Other critics have suggested that minimalism is a bourgeois perspective promoted by several powerful corporations  or pointed out what appears to be a class/wealth bias among minimalists. Numerous minimalists have reflected on these criticisms, some objecting to the characterizations and others cautiously agreeing that adopting a minimalist lifestyle implies the choice to not adopt that lifestyle, a choice denied to the poor. We are seeing the movement catch on in different countries and hearing more about downsizing/rightsizing as Baby Boomers enter retirement and begin to shed their possessions — which, it seems, their kids don’t want.

The beginning of the (neo)minimalist lifestyle movement is often pegged to the Great Recession of 2008; that’s certainly, from what I’ve seen, when it really took off as a lifestyle choice in the blogosphere. Now that the recession is over (or so I hear from the news), will the minimalist movement wane? Is the move toward moderation correlated with the gradual easing of the recession?

Despite the fact that this year Millennials (now 18-34) overtook Baby Boomers as the U.S.’s largest living generation, they are still underemployed and saddled with more debt, much of it education-related. That ought to pose some challenges for advertisers; they will want Millennial dollars, especially as Millennials enter the family-building, house-buying ages, but they may find that Millennials don’t have the dollars to spend. Those Millennials who do, though, will need to brace for the upcoming onslaught of messages aimed at them and at their children. Minimalism may be hard to sustain under those circumstances.

On the other hand, Baby Boomers (now 51-69) are entering retirement, most of them with nothing near adequate savings to maintain the lifestyles to which they’ve become accustomed. This suggests first, that they will no longer be attractive to advertisers (which is why I think the advertising shift will move to Millennials), and second, that they may become minimalists whether they like it or not … leading us back to that issue of minimalism vs. poverty. They may find minimalist writings useful, but those minimalist bloggers who are still relatively young might need to take into account the fact that the elderly may have physical limitations and health conditions that preclude extremely Spartan living conditions (climbing up a ladder to a bunk bed in a tiny house, for example, might be impossible).

And then we have Gen Z (now 0-20), which grew up with the Great Recession and has internalized economic uncertainty. Will this generation embrace minimalism as one strategy for ensuring financial safety? Possibly. The oldest are only now starting to enter the workplace, so we’ll have to see what happens, but I’d guess that many may swing toward their own version of extreme minimalism, just as a number of Millennials did at that age.

The minimalist lifestyle movement isn’t going to die out  — there have always been people who’ve chosen to be minimalists  — but I believe we may see fewer Millennials espousing it as they enter their thirties and forties, traditionally ages of accumulation. Those who blog about minimalism might want to more proactively address both Baby Boomer and Gen Z readers, two demographics that will soon be looking for help dealing with their differing, but equally challenging, financial prospects.

(….And in the meantime, we skeptical, self-reliant Gen X’ers [now 34-54] will make do, as always, kthxbai).

Photo Credit: Bell tower of Kongobuji, Japan, by Dru Pagliassotti

The Next Step in Minimalism

orchid_sd2_After simplifying one’s environment, the next step may be to simplify one’s mind.

To create open space in one’s house, one must declutter the house — remove all the unnecessary Stuff. Then, suddenly, space appears.

“In the same way, to bring about contentment we need a consciousness that is like creating space. It’s not about having more, accumulating more. Rather it is about letting go of this and that. When we let go of everything we see that the space we want to create is already there.”
—Anam Thubten (2013) No Self, No Problem: Awakening to Our True Nature. Boston: Shambhala, n.p. [Kindle Edition].

Decluttering our environment requires us to give up our attachments to Stuff. Sometimes that’s difficult; we have deep emotional, psychological bonds to some of our Stuff that we need to detach from (the souvenir is not the trip; the heirloom is not the lost loved one) in order to let our clutter go.

Decluttering our mind is similar. It means giving up our attachments to Self: e.g., the stories we tell about the way we were in the past, the way we are now, and the way we will be in the future if only we do this, or refrain from doing that, or can achieve something else. Thubten reminds us, however, that “there is a big difference between giving up everything and giving up the attachment to everything.”  [emphasis added]. Perhaps we can’t entirely forget those stories; I suspect it would be difficult to do that and operate in the normal, everyday world. There’s a tradition of the “mad monk” for a reason! But I imagine we can avoid letting those stories direct us or limit us while acknowledging that we have believed in them in the past, and that others may still believe them about us. Oh, well. Accept it and move along.

Self is a form of Stuff.

Those of us who have been successful at decluttering our Stuff might want to take up the more daunting challenge of decluttering our attachment to Self next.

Image Source: Skydancer (Jo Pagliassotti).

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Daily Loss

tao_circle_black_400x400Pursue knowledge, daily gain
Pursue Tao, daily loss

Tao De Ching

As a professor, my head is often too full — reading books and accumulating knowledge is part of my profession, and I can’t easily call a halt to it at this point in my career, although I have been growing more particular about what I choose to put into my head.

As a person seeking simplicity, I keep attempting to pare down, to lose.

I have been deleting more and more of my past posts on this blog. Most of them simply tracked my progress as a writer — sales, rejections, marketing issues. Who cares, now, about what stories I sold eight years ago?

Whenever I take another really significant step toward simplification, I feel a moment’s nausea as a lifetime of social conditioning rebels against the thought of letting go. I wonder when I will finally be able to let go in peace?

Uncluttering Facebook Updates

clean-facebook-wallAm I the only person who periodically unclutters her Facebook timeline?

I was wondering that this morning while I went back and deleted some of the less-significant status updates I’d written, such as grumbles about being on campus grading over the weekend or comments about articles I found interesting at the time. I figure Facebook posts are the same as physical belongings and digital files — if you don’t love ‘em or use ‘em regularly, get rid of ‘em.

I suppose I could purge the whole thing … how often do I go back and look at those convention photos from two years ago, anyway? … but so far I haven’t reached that stage of digital minimalism. I don’t really mind having old posts sitting in my timeline; I just think they ought to be periodically curated.

But maybe I’m just strange that way…?

Image Source: Le Free Logiciel

Cheating on My Love Affair with Minimalism

horribleAt a convention recently another writer raised an eyebrow at my steampunkery  and asked, “Do you have a whole closet full of costumes?” I stammered a little and then reluctantly confessed to having made a couple of incompatible lifestyle choices.

You see, for all my years of pursuing minimalism, there’s one part of my life that remains less than minimal — my “special events” wardrobe.

Day-to-day, you’ll find me in jeans, black v-neck tee, and boots. That’s my Uniform, plus a blazer when I’m teaching or a flannel shirt around friends and family. I have a handful of blazers, flannels, and boots, so it’s not utterly boring, but it’s certainly limited and doesn’t take up much closet space.

But then if you go to, ahem, the other side of the wardrobe, all of the sudden you’ll be confronted by cloaks, vests, corsets, overcoats, ascots, gloves, belts, hats, goggles, masks, replica weaponry, and the velvet doctoral robes that get yanked out twice a year for the university’s opening convocation and  commencement ceremony.

Sometimes I fantasize about getting rid of it all — usually around the time I’m packing to go to a con! — but….

Not yet.  :-)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

indexI don’t read many books that give me new perspectives on decluttering and minimalism anymore — the last one was Greg McKeown’s Essentialism, which was useful more for its focus on managing one’s expenditure of energy and time rather than on sorting through one’s physical possessions. However, the new U.S. edition of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up offers advice that’s just different enough from most Western decluttering hints to have given me fresh inspiration to do another re-evaluation of my Stuff.

This is a touchy-feely, emotional book, which ought to raise the eyebrows of anybody who knows me, because I’m definitely not a touchy-feely, emotional person. Nevertheless, the author’s advice — “take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’” (p. 41) — made a difference in how I viewed what I owned. I went through my bookshelves and wardrobe again, handling each item individually and deciding whether it made my heart lighter or carried with it any lingering sense of guilt, obligation, or sadness. I ended up hauling away to Goodwill a startling number of bags full of things I was holding on to more out of a sense of obligation or of slightly guilty nostalgia than because I actively wanted to own them now, as my life is in the present moment.

In its essence, Kondo’s rule of joy isn’t much different from William Morris’s oft-cited advice, “Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful,” which has been my guideline for years. But it turns out that there’s a subtle difference between touching/knowing and believing. Kondo’s book helped me understand that I can believe something is beautiful and appreciate its appearance in situ yet still feel no actual joy in its ownership. Once I began unlinking my intellectual/aesthetic appreciation of owning certain objects from any actual physical sense of joy or pleasure, I realized I owned a number of things that I considered beautiful or interesting but that made me feel subtly uncomfortable to be around — and that, for me, was a revelation.

I don’t subscribe to all of Kondo’s advice. I do fold over the tops of my socks and don’t see myself neatly coiling them as she recommends all any time soon — and I firmly believe in hanging my clothes rather than folding them. However, I agree with Kondo about the pointlessness of keeping paper, and I liked her advice on not keeping spare buttons (although I kept the spare buttons I could match to the blazers I wear on a weekly basis). I also appreciated her constant linking of person, possessions, and home in terms of relationships and respect; she gets more animistic than I’m comfortable with in a few places, but at a fundamental level I agree that we ought to take care of our possessions, whether it’s to please their spirits or simply to show ourselves and those around us the respect of a neat, clean, and open environment.

Some of the lines I highlighted:

“Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.” (p. 21). Later, toward the end of the book, she discusses the effects that decluttering can have on a person’s mindset and lifestyle. Nothing unusual here, except that it was another reminder to me that my desire to declutter my physical space usually indicates a deeper desire to declutter my life/mental space; and while physical decluttering is, I think, a necessary first step, it’s only a first step.

“It’s extremely stressful for parents to see what their children discard….” (p. 48). This rang very true to me! Kondo warns that parents (and I might add siblings, friends, roommates, etc.) get nervous when you start decluttering and can inadvertently undermine your efforts with their comments or might appropriate your discards for themselves, cluttering their own lives as a result. As Kondo says, save them the stress and be considerate of their feelings — keep your decluttering private. She’s not encouraging deception, but she’s reminding us that not everybody understands the concept of living with less.

“Not all clothes have come to you to be worn threadbare. It is the same with people. Not every person you meet in life will become a close friend or lover.” (p. 60).  This helped me give up some of the more expensive clothes I’d bought but ended up never wearing. A lot of things, and people, enter our lives. We can’t expect to keep them all. Treat them with kindness and respect and let them come and go freely and without guilt or regret.

“The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not ‘things’ but a means for conveying someone’s feelings.” (p. 107-108). This is a useful reminder that it’s OK to give away a gift; it doesn’t mean you’re belittling the consideration behind it. Kondo adds, “surely the person who gave it to you doesn’t want you to use it out of a sense of obligation” (p. 108). I’m not sure that’s always true — I think some people are a little more selfish than that — so I’ve always told people that they’re welcome to discard of any gift I give them with no hard feelings.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up gave me some fresh insights into myself and my relationship with items, something I hadn’t thought was possible anymore. I’m sure a number of people will read it and be left cold by her quasi-magical approach, but others — especially those who resonate to emotional, relational advice, but even occasionally an over-intellectualizing reptiloid like myself — will find her advice (re)motivating.

 

Minimalism Maintenance

essentialismNature abhors a vacuum, and so do friends — ever since renting a large house with a housemate, it seems that more and more of our friends’ odd pieces of furniture and glassware have taken up “temporary” residence here. So much, in fact, that I’ve created a list of “stuff to give back” that I’ll be checking when I finally move out. (As an Air Force brat and longtime apartment dweller, my assumption is always that I’ll be moving each year! It’s a pleasant surprise if I don’t.)

Minimalism certainly requires maintenance. I’ve been practicing it for over 15 years, and if I didn’t carry out periodic purges to stem the clutter creep, I’d still be overwhelmed. It’s amazing how much Stuff (including digital files and time commitments) accumulates, even when you are consciously doing your best to keep life simple.

One of my maintenance practices is to read books and blogs about minimalism, simple living, and the like. They seldom have much to teach me — after 15 years, I know how the process works — but they do offer affirmation that I’m not the only person who’s making unconventional choices in an effort to keep out excess, since none of my friends and colleagues share this particular mindset with me.

One book I’ve recently read and appreciated is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I prefer his term “essentialism” to “minimalism” because it better captures my perspective on the practice — that is, it’s not a matter of having or doing less, necessarily; it’s a matter of having or doing enough and no more to pursue your goals. This typically means paring down your belongings, sure — clutter causes all kinds of time wastage — but it also means paring down other distractions, too; voluntarily narrowing your choices and focusing only on those activities that will get you where you want to be. McKeown’s book is, in fact, more about essentialism of effort than essentialism of stuff, which makes it stand out from so many of the other minimalism books I’ve read, which usually focus on Stuff and only later address Effort.

Again, it’s not that McKeown’s book offers much that’s new to those who are already practicing minimalism, but it addresses the issue from a slightly different perspective — it’s primarily about the importance of asserting control over your life choices, work routines, and leadership decisions — and of course it affirms that it’s not crazy to voluntarily eliminate things from your life that most people consider necessary, if doing so helps you focus on what you’ve chosen as your life’s priority.

If you’re a minimalist, or considering it, or if you’re a creative struggling to find time for your passion, I’d recommend reading McKeown’s book. Essentialism isn’t easy, and it does require constant maintenance, but in the 15 years that I’ve been honing my practice — whether under the name of voluntary simplicity, downsizing, minimalism, or essentialism — I’ve found that I’ve never regretted the effort. …For one thing, those books lined up on your right would never have been written without it!

Wabi Sabi Steampunk

wabisteampunkI’ve been struggling for years to reconcile my appreciation for the steampunk aesthetic and my personal need to live in a minimalist environment. I love the rich, baroque look of steampunk but I function best with minimal distractions and quickly become uncomfortable in a cluttered or crowded room.  I love studying a cabinet of curiosities but I don’t want it making visual and cognitive demands on me when I’m trying to work.

Friends often send me photographs of steampunk interiors or furniture because they know my rooms make an aesthetic gesture toward steampunk, or at least industrial, design — I own adjustable ironwork tables, old metal chests, leather chairs, a vintage barrister bookcase, etc. But as much as I delight in those busy, gleaming steampunk interiors, part of me knows that I’d go crazy if I had to live in them 24/7.

What I’d like to see developed is a sort of wabi-sabi steampunk — call it that, or steampunk zen, or minimalist steampunk, whatever you like. They’d all look a little different, but they’d emphasize a reduction in clutter and an opening of space.

Are wabi-sabi and steampunk irreconcilable concepts? Wabi-sabi  has a variety of meanings, but its essence is the natural, impermanent, unpretentious, and antique. Steampunk also has a variety of meanings, but as a visual aesthetic, the areas in which it probably differs most from wabi-sabi is natural vs. industrial and unpretentious vs. gadgeteered.

As far as natural vs. industrial goes, I’d suggest that the heft, weight, texture, and patina of vintage industrial furniture and decor have elements that can be reconciled with the wabi-sabi aesthetic. The scratches, dents, and rust on the 19th-century antiques (real or faux) beloved by steampunk designers bring to mind a sense of nostalgia and age, imperfection and impermanence as much as an old, hand-thrown clay pot or woven basket. Both steampunk and wabi-sabi value craftsmanship and artisanry (there’s a strong DIY maker-culture in steampunk), and they both value materials that weather well, aging with strength and grace. Wabi-sabi may be more rustic than most 19th-century-inspired steampunk design, but there’s no reason why steampunk can’t look away from middle- to upper-class English urban Victoriana toward more modest, perhaps international, 19th-century modes of decor.

More difficult to reconcile are the opposing values of  unpretentious vs. gadgeteered. Without a doubt, much steampunk style is intentionally pretentious and overdone, with a sense of humorous quirkiness in its unnecessary twists and flourishes. By contrast, wabi-sabi prefers the simple and understated, although it values the flawed, “ugly,” awkward appeal of the weathered and/or handcrafted object or environment. The person seeking a wabi-sabi steampunk aesthetic will have to choose steampunk objects with care, looking perhaps for those manufactured with simpler lines and from darker, more worn materials.

I don’t know how feasible it is to mesh these aesthetics, but I’ve been trying to do it in my own home for some time — which is something of a challenge in rented, relatively recently manufactured spaces (distressed-wood floors, natural stone walls, and vintage appliances are well out of my budget!).  Does anybody else share my desire for a more minimal steampunk aesthetic, or am I just strange this way? I’ve started a Pinterest board for wabi sabi steampunk; I’d enjoy getting examples from other people to add to it!

An Edited Life

For some time I’ve been editing old status updates and other people’s comments off my Facebook wall, on the theory that most of them are meaningless after a few days or weeks … and because I’m uneasy about the fact that all that data is being preserved and mined by marketers to refine their consumer profiles. As a minimalist, do I really want to contribute to their cause? Absolutely not.

I do want to communicate to friends, family, and the occasional digital passer-by who may visit this blog.  But I don’t want to make it easy for data-miners to use my information.  So this is my compromise: editing out old posts. After all, is anyone really going to go back to read my “Happy New Year” post from January 1, 2007? I don’t think so. Off it goes, along with well over 200 other trivial updates and comments I’ve posted over the last four years. My goal will be to preserve posts that offer information or thoughts that may, possibly, have enduring interest to readers and to get rid of the rest … just as I edit my writing, my possessions, my activities, and my social network accounts.

Cheers!