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robertogreco : asceticism   4

The Oppressive Gospel of ‘Minimalism’ - The New York Times
[See also: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/03/marie-kondo-and-the-privilege-of-clutter/475266/ ]

"“Minimalism” was eventually canonized as an art-historical movement, but the name came to mean something different as it was adopted into consumer culture and turned into a class signifier. What was once a way artists shocked viewers became over the decades a style as delimited and consumable as any Martha Stewart tablescape. The word was defanged, no longer a critical insult and no longer a viable strategy within art — though it never quite gave up its veneer of provocation. Even austerity can be made decadent: To wealthy practitioners, minimalism is now little more than a slightly intriguing perversion, like drinking at breakfast. “One of the real problems with design-world minimalism is that it’s just become a signifier of the global elite,” Raskin says. “The richer you are, the less you have.”

The minimalists’ aesthetic of raw materials and aggressive simplicity leaked into fashion, design and architecture, where it became a luxury product, helped along at times by the artists themselves. Judd’s SoHo loft building is now an icon of sanitized minimalism, open to tourists. His Chinati Foundation, a permanent installation of concrete and metal boxes in and around a decommissioned military base in Marfa, Tex., is a site of hipster pilgrimage. It even appears in Ben Lerner’s “10:04,” a novel redolent of late-capitalist anxiety. The protagonist visits the town on an artist’s residency, where he wanders the desert landscape, parties with young people and accidentally ingests ketamine — but it’s Judd’s installation that provides an epiphany. The sculptures, he writes, “combined to collapse my sense of inside and outside.” Judd’s work “had itself come to contain the world.”

Today’s minimalism, by contrast, is visually oppressive; it comes with an inherent pressure to conform to its precepts. Whiteness, in a literal sense, is good. Mess, heterogeneity, is bad — the opposite impulse of artistic minimalism. It is anxiety-inducing in a manner indistinguishable from other forms of consumerism, not revolutionary at all. Do I own the right things? Have I jettisoned enough of the wrong ones? In a recent interview with Apartamento magazine set against interior shots of his all-white home in Rockaway, Queens, the tastemaker and director of MoMA PS1 Klaus Biesenbach explained, “I don’t aim to own things.”

Minimalism is now conflated with self-optimization, the trend that also resulted in fitness trackers and Soylent (truly a minimalist food — it looks like nothing, but inspires thoughts of everything else). Often driven by technol­ogy, this optimization is expensive and exclusively branded by and for the elite. In Silicon Valley, the minimalism fetish can perhaps be traced back to Steve Jobs’s famously austere 1980s apartment (he sat on the floor) and the attendant simplicity of Apple products. Pare down, and you, too, could run a $700 billion company. A thriving Reddit forum on minimalism debates the worth of Muji products and which hobbies count as minimalist-appropriate, in a communal attempt to live the most effective, if perhaps not the most joyful, life.

These minimalist-arrivistes present it as a logical end to lifestyle, culture and even morality: If we attain only the right things, the perfect things, and forsake all else, then we will be free from the tyranny of our desires. But time often proves aesthetic permanence, as well as moral high ground, to be illusory. And already, the pendulum is swinging back.

Writing in The Atlantic in March, Arielle Bernstein described minimalism’s ban on clutter as a “privilege” that runs counter to the value ascribed to an abundance of objects by those who have suffered from a lack of them — less-empowered people like refugees or immigrants. The movement, such as it is, is led in large part by a group of men who gleefully ditch their possessions as if to disavow the advantages by which they obtained them. But it takes a lot to be minimalist: social capital, a safety net and access to the internet. The technology we call minimalist might fit in our pockets, but it depends on a vast infrastructure of grim, air-conditioned server farms and even grimmer Chinese factories. As Lerner’s protagonist observes in “10:04,” even a dull convenience like a can of instant coffee grounds reaches him thanks to a fragile and tremendously wasteful network of global connections, a logistics chain that defies all logic, one undergirded by exploited laborers and vast environmental degradation.

There’s an arrogance to today’s minimalism that presumes it provides an answer rather than, as originally intended, a question: What other perspectives are possible when you look at the world in a different way? The fetishized austerity and performative asceticism of minimalism is a kind of ongoing cultural sickness. We misinterpret material renunciation, austere aesthetics and blank, emptied spaces as symbols of capitalist absolution, when these trends really just provide us with further ways to serve our impulse to consume more, not less."
minimalism  2016  mariekondo  asceticism  possessions  culture  society  consumption  ariellebernstein  kylechayka  siliconvalley  affluence  inequality  privilege  austerity  greatrecession  donaldjudd  davidraskin  aesthetics  technology  abundance  tidying 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Self-Denial | Submitted For Your Perusal
“A character who needs the accoutrements of worldly success will never be seen by the audience as heroic. Heroes are invariably ascetic, denying themselves pleasures and comforts that ordinary people take for granted.… In war films, the hero often declines invitations to partake of food or sex…. The hero can’t relax, can’t have fun. In westerns … all he owns in this world is in that tiny bundle behind the saddle we see when he first appears. We don’t know if he ever changes his shirt or if he even has a shirt to change into, so minimal are his earthly possessions. In detective, police, mystery, and spy films, the central character usually lives in a one-room apartment … but it’s hard to say the hero lives there – it’s where he flops when he’s overcome with exhaustion.… Like religious and mythical heroes of earlier years, the hero is in this world, but not of it. He denies himself the pleasures ordinary mortals yearn for precisely because he isn’t an ordinary mortal.” —Howard Suber, The Power of Film

[via "@ecourtem @savasavasava I bet there are some, but heroism in film often associated with austerity: http://submittedforyourperusal.com/2012/05/29/self-denial/ "
https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/593125731879755776

part of this thread: “From the trailer, James Bond’s ascetic apartment (at least, I’m guessing that’s what it is) in SPECTRE (2015).”
https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/593122899244011520

which also includes: “Cf. the lighting, austerity, and accoutrements of Steve Jobs’s apartment circa the early 1980s.”
https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/593123128215232512

"@mattthomas @savasavasava Just once I'd like to see a superhero emerge out of cluttered and low-class surroundings."
https://twitter.com/ecourtem/status/593125140080234497

"@mattthomas @ecourtem serves to further that whole hero myth while ignoring the privilege of opting for austerity. kinda tired of it."
https://twitter.com/savasavasava/status/593126308286173185

"@savasavasava @ecourtem Cf. the Buddha."
https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/593126469582397441 ]
simplicity  howardsuber  clutter  film  heroes  asceticism  possessions  buddha  minimalism  2012  2015 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The best general advice on earth « the jsomers.net blog
"These are excerpts (emphasis mine) from William James’s 1890 classic, Principles of Psychology, Chapter IV, “Habit”:

1. The great thing, then, in all education, is to make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy. It is to fund and capitalize our acquisitions, and live at ease upon the interest of the fund.

2. … The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work.



4. No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one’s sentiments may be, if one have not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one’s character may remain entirely unaffected for the better.

5. … be systematically ascetic or heroic in little unnecessary points, do every day or two something for no other reason than that you would rather not do it."
wisdom  advice  asceticism  education  focus  automatism  automation  efficiency  1890  williamjames  via:maxfenton 
october 2012 by robertogreco
The Most Dangerous Gamer - Magazine - The Atlantic
"Thoreau…“With a little more deliberation in the choice of their pursuits,” he proclaimed, “all men would perhaps become essentially students and observers, for certainly their nature and destiny are interesting to all alike.”

Blow clicked off the stereo and turned to me. “I honestly didn’t plan that,” he said.

In so many words, Loud Thoreau had just described Blow’s central idea for The Witness. Whereas so many contemporary games are built on a foundation of shooting or jumping or, let’s say, the creative use of mining equipment to disembowel space zombies, Blow wants the point of The Witness to be the act of noticing, of paying attention to one’s surroundings. Speaking about it, he begins to sound almost like a Zen master. “Things are pared down to the basic acts of movement and observation until those senses become refined,” he told me. “The further you go into the game, the more it’s not even about the thinking mind anymore—it becomes about the intuitive mind."
literature  narrative  taylorclark  miegakure  marctenbosch  interactivefiction  asceticism  storytelling  payingattention  attention  observation  noticing  intuition  myst  littlebigplanet  money  belesshelpful  fiction  jenovachen  flow  tombissell  gamedev  chrishecker  einstein'sdreams  alanlightman  invisiblecities  italocalvino  jonblow  deannavanburen  art  2012  thewitness  thoreau  srg  edg  videogames  gaming  games  braid  jonathanblow  if  cyoa 
april 2012 by robertogreco

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