Using Minimalism to Reframe Everything
It’s hip to want less
And yet, less isn’t always more.
But in today’s hipster parlance, minimalism is the ready-made versatile motive behind the most egregious behaviors.
From human flaws and shortcomings to innumerable predicaments, we can invoke the power of minimalism to infuse the drab with fab.
And because we’re a grumpy bunch of entitled, pretentious, and pompous creatures who are never satisfied, we do so with wild abandon.
On the bullshit exchange, minimalism is the premium deluxe offering reserved for the enlightened. It is the gold dust with which we can frost a turd and pass it off as a collectible artifact without arousing suspicion.
While we snort at magical thinking, we love nothing more than to witness extreme self-discipline in our fellow humans, if only because we feel quite unmotivated to emulate them.
Minimalism is one such virtue, practiced by those who profess to be content with very little.
More than a virtue, it’s a statement that lets the world know we have unlocked some superhuman achievement level that elevates us above the plebs.
But does it?
Often, less means lack.
As in complete absence thereof. For example, perhaps we don’t have a good grasp of the world beyond our borders because we have been convinced from birth we were exceptional.
In this sense, we’re not ignorant; we’re knowledge minimalists.
This means we put up a metaphysical wall around our person lest alien thoughts should invade our cranium. In 2019 America, this odd national compulsion has gone from mental to architectural with the erection of an actual wall on the border with Mexico.
Lest anyone should dare call us racists, we’re not; we’re ethnic minimalists.
White is so blinding in the sun it turns some of us into intellectual and social minimalists, too.
When applied to human intelligence, spareness and simplicity aren’t necessarily good things.
What if less is a euphemism for none?
Enter sexual minimalism, the preserve of incels and jilted humans the world over.
While we can flip the script and choose to eschew the basic physiological need that is sex, few of us do but many of us go without through no fault of our own.
And the result is often a little awkward if not downright shameful.
Then again, when we lack the social skills to spark interest in a fellow human, it’s easier to declare we’ve embraced sexual minimalism.
It makes us sound noteworthier than we’ve ever been even though our choice of words could be misconstrued as disparaging by our exclusive sexual partner, i.e. our own hand.
In the same vein, emotional minimalism can be passed off as self-control without anyone suspecting we are in fact cold and heartless mutant humanoids.
And no, affective minimalism isn’t a dearth of concern, care, and love.
It just means we’ve consciously chosen our own company over that of fellow animals, human and non-.
Then what happens when less is zero?
A homeless human isn’t a minimalist but some US cities like Seattle seem to think that because you’ve been homeless, all you deserve is a tiny house.
How would you like to live in a broom closet that has no plumbing, moral minimalism notwithstanding?
Material minimalism may enable us to travel light and live simply but please let’s not pretend poverty is a lifestyle choice.
Similarly, someone who tells you, cheeks ablaze with embarrassment, that they only eat one meal a day is likely hungry so don’t start on the virtues of intermittent fasting, please!
As for spiritual minimalism, it’s a thriving practice that does away with the need for outer representations of ourselves.
Instead of gods and goddesses, we worship at the altar of the self.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.