Stream of Consciousness Theatre presents: Minimalism

As usual when Sunday night comes, right about 11pm, I begin thinking (read: panicking) about, “What subject am I going to write about tomorrow?” which usually leads to several several hours of research (read: procrastination rituals) which ranges from chipping away at my night stand book, youtube video essays, and reddit comment threads all in pursuit of the weekly question.

This almost never works. Almost.

Last night I viewed (re-viewed? I can’t remember after a while) an early video essay by the brilliant nerdwriter called “The Diderot Effect”.

The Diderot Effect –  a social phenomenon related to consumer goods that comprises two ideas. The first posits that goods purchased by consumers will be cohesive to their sense of identity, and as a result, will be complementary to one another. The second states that the introduction of a new possession that is deviant from the consumer’s current complementary goods can result in a process of spiraling consumption.

Source: Wikipedia

Being a minimalist, I was chuckling along through the video thinking “you consumer suckers, identifying with the things you own, what are you, new?” and then my ego smacked me across the face when I began thinking more deeply about what minimalism means to me.

Minimalism, for me, has been a reaction to an extreme event.  A very very bad day.   Kind of like the Joker’s monologue explaining his origin in “The Killing Joke”

the killing joke one bad day

Source: The Killing Joke Graphic Novel

It reminded me that I am not free from identifying with my possessions and maybe even more so given the things I’ve chosen to hold onto.

The minimalist as an art movement has been around since Goethe’s sculpture Alter of Good Fortune

However it didn’t take a hold of the literary world until 1913 just before the outbreak of The Great War as a characteristic of the Modernist movement and would remain influential across art mediums into our modern age.  This reduction of all distracting elements in the arts feels like a collective psychological reaction to a world changing at an increasing rate,  in the case of the modernists it was a reaction to a increasingly geo-political hostile environment.  Again in our modern age, in the information age where we’re bombarded with overwhelming amounts of information from our screens.  In an age where everyone has equal access to be heard and the individual is paraded as a hero for being an individual the only way a person can actually get attention is to make extremely precise and minimalistic pieces, the minimal amount of information presented stands as a stark contrast to the confusing array of incoming data.

A fellow wordpress blogger commented on this phenomena

Today, writing seems to be following along the lines of “saying more in fewer words.” The idea of conciseness has entered new levels, and it can be seen in both positive and negative lights. On one hand, the concept could encourage writers to pump their sentences with concise, skillful imagery that does its job well, thereby eliminating unnecessary fluff. After all, a minimalistic approach is rarely a bad one. On the other hand, long, thought-out pieces of writing are discarded more often than not, and great pieces of work are looked over without a second thought. Is the evolution of formatting worth the consequence?

Source: Formatting your Writing: A Matter of Life or Death by Hannah at 2bornot2bwritingtips

Her concern is extremely valid, especially when we consider the “headlines phenomena” we see increasingly in the media where sound bites make or break a politician, convey the importance of a tragic event or not, and my favourite (one I am occasionally guilty of) the reddit titles for articles being taken for face value rather than reading the entire article.  This phenomena is even commented on by today’s xkcd comic “Honey Pyramids”.

I think it’s an important subject to be aware of, something that is never far from my mind, but I’m extremely interested to hear from you.  How do you feel about The Diderot Effect? How guilty of the “headline phenomena” are you? What are your thoughts on the newest minimalism movement?

Please leave a comment below if you have thoughts on the subject and if you liked this post, please share and follow.  For more on the subject of personal minimalism, check out the book “The More of Less: Finding the Life you want Under Everything you Own” by Joshua Becker.

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Getting Acquainted with the Neighbloggerhood(1)

Happy Friday folks,

First order of business: I realize about four people might have expected a post yesterday based on my announcement last Thursday(2) however after giving it some thought and a change in my work schedule, it seems like a Monday/Friday posting schedule would be more practical.  Now back to the regularly scheduled program.

I’ve been on here for a bit now, found some really cool blogs to add to my reader, and garnered a (very) small following and something I’ve considered is that I don’t really know much about my fellow floggers(3) and I’m really interested in making a personal connection for fun and profit(4).

What’s your favourite book?

House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski I’ll never forget the first time I met this book (yes you can meet books, books are people too #booklivesmatter).  It was the fall of my senior year (high school) and I was in the second most disappointing class of my scholastic career(5), advanced creative writing (it was disappointing because of the teacher I had was…not fit to be teaching sub 18yo individuals).  One of the projects we had was a book-report presentation on our favourite book and this girl I sorta had a thing for but was way too “alternatively cool”(6) for me man.  I was a freak too, still am #freakforlife, but way too fucking shy to be worth more than the last square on a roll of toilet paper.  Anyway she began presenting this book, House of Leaves (HoL) and she was having trouble describing the general story other than “This is a really freaky story, man. Like ‘I couldn’t read it before bed’ scary”.  After class I went to some book store and found the black beauty just sitting there. Last copy.  It took me 3 months to get through the first read. With all the annotations, the extremely dense prose, and the extremely experimental frame-story with in a frame-story with in a frame-story story telling style it was my first real hard read.  Also, looking back, my first post-modernist book.  MZD’s monolith-esque tome was the first book to show me “you can break the rules in writing, it’s a brave new world”.  That was about 10 years ago.  I’ve re-read the book more than 15 times since.

Honourable mentions:

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

All the Pretty Horses by Cormic McCarthy 

What’s your favourite body part?

I really like hands. Being a stick figure I’m envious of the banana looking appendages at the ends of human arms.  I don’t know why I like hands however I can remember precisely when I began noticing them.  I was seeing this girl, years ago, who had a knack for knitting and one time I was just watching her knit and I noticed there was something different about how she held her needles.  It’s really hard to explain but I think she was double jointed in every joint of her fingers because her fingers were bending in ways I’ve never seen before and I found that observation to be extremely profound and was deeply attracted to the length of her long artistic fingers and how they gracefully locked string into string onto needle.  Ever since I’ve found my self looking at hands and marveling at their complex beauty.  Nice hands are nice.

Honourable mentions:

Hair (on the head)

Back/torso (like the back of the torso, the front doesn’t do much for me unless you have like really nice obliques…then me might have to be friends)

Legs (specifically calves)

If you were reincarnated into an animal/drink/ice cream flavour, what would you be?*

  • I have to give credit for the ice cream flavour bit. Source

Animal: Dog.  I’ve never fathered a dog(7) but I’ve lived with several dogs and I love them all even the poopy little ones who peed everywhere all the time.  Also, as strange as this may sound, I always kind of identified as a dog but not in the furry way. When I was a kid and I got excited, I would wag my tail and as an adult I enjoy going for walks in the park and rides in the car(8).  I’m also colourblind, smell sensitive, and enjoy getting my head scratched

Which celebrity do you get mistaken for?

This has been like the running joke of my life.  It changes depending on my hair and I change my hair a lot. Also I’m pretty sure I have one of those “generically good looking” faces that is easily forgettable but also easy for people to see who/what they want However, they’ve always been obnoxiously flattering (and not even most of them have been come-ons either) so here’s a list:

Johnny Depp

Orlando Bloom (when LOTR came out and I had long blonde hair)

Matt Damon

Daniel Radcliffe

Jack Kerouac

And more but I really can’t remember.  It’s almost like every single time I meet a new person or group of people, someone says “Hey, did you know you kinda look like (insert celeb)?” or “Hey, come check out this kids face.  Doesn’t he look exactly like (insert friend I’ve never met)?”

At what age did you become an adult?

Never. Fifth grader for life.  Seriously though, I’ve struggled with the question “what does it mean to be an adult to me?” quite a bit in the last few years especially with 30 right around the corner.  I matured early, but entered some form of social arrested development when I started drinking and drugging and have decided in sobriety that it’s time to begin catching up on the parts of my life that I let fall by the wayside for the last 10 year because I was too fixated on being a work-holic/drink-aholic.  So I guess, I began the process of becoming something resembling an adult this year in the eve of my 27th year.

Where’s Waldo?

Some say he’s still out there somewhere…

So here’s the rules of the game:

  1. I’m tagging all 4 of my wordpress followers (you are my favourite people on wordpress).
  2. Answer the questions, post on your blog.
  3. Tag some friends(9)

Brittany and Arpil @herestwenty

Don Maciver @donmacieverpoetry

The folks at Royal James Publishing @royaljamespublishing

annette @outsideofacat

Footnotes:

  1. Surprisingly, this word actually works with the prefix “neigh-” meaning “near” and the suffix “-hood” meaning “state or condition being” ergo the new word could be defined as “nearby bloggers” aka “the regulars I see and follow and want to know more about”.  Though the word doesn’t have quite the mouth feel of a viral-prone word like “meh”.
  2. SQUEE! My first self-referential citation!
  3. I tried to combine “blogger” and “follower” into a new word however I think I missed the mark.
  4. Still working on the “profit” part.
  5. The first being Anthropology of Native American Spirituality.  Subject matter and reading material: spot on; the teacher: not so spot on.
  6. She was a hardcore punk with a devil may care attitude and on the verge of burn out because she wasn’t being challenged enough.  She was also really hot.
  7. I’m really against the slavery language we use towards our furry children/friends.  I believe animals are much more intelligent than we give them credit for. Example: Prairie Dogs have such a complex language, they can communicate to their fellow dogs what sort of animal is passing by and if it’s a human whether it’s a human they know or a different human based on the colour of their clothing.  I talk to animals, plants, insects, anything living as if it were an adult human being worthy of my respect.  The only people I talk to like a child are adult humans who demonstrate a necessity for simplistic language.  Show respect to your fellow non-human companions, and see what happens. You’ll be surprised.
  8. Also, like a dog, I don’t drive. So rides in the car are like something I really enjoy, even if it’s just accompanying a friend on an errands run.
  9. Not sure if I’m doing these tags right.