Notes & Queries on a Minimalist Framework

Steps toward a more rational life-style

Some one recently asked me, what is a "minimalist" framework. Being a job interview, I was not prepared for this kind of question, but it did cause me some reflection afterward, and for me to ask myself what I meant by this. Perhaps he thought less of me for this, or for lacking a clear answer, as he never called me back for the job, one way or another.
What is a "Minimalist" Framework?
I would define a minimalist framework as one that is independent of the huge leviathanesque Capitalist World System, in which one's habits, life-choices, life-style, perception of needs, and sense of status and well being in the world, is not dependent upon false advertising, commercialism, hype, double or multiple standards, or the exploitation of oneself, others, or the environment. 

I would identify a minimalist framework as essentially a non-violent lifestyle. It is one in which we seek to cultivate good habits that do not bring harm to one's self, one's community or one's environment. We can be a pacifist and essentially non-violent in the world, even if we step once in a while upon a bug (by accident) or we sometimes deliberately swat an annoying fly who does not belong inside. 

We must gain a living, we must live, but we do not have to have our values, our standards of living, or very sense of happiness and well being, be manipulated by others who have only profit and exploitation in mind

Hugh-tips for Cultivating a Minimalist Life-style
I would say a minimalist framework is the cultivation of a life-style that is not only non-material (hence, hopefully, a bit more genuinely spiritual) but also I would say vastly simpler and uncomplicated. Fetishism and the compulsion to have and mindlessly consume, to always seek immediate gratification, is essentially as unhealthy as it is a road to unhappiness and discontentment--one can never be finally satisfied if one's "needs" are always met upon demand.

Here are some Hugh-tips for cultivating a minimalist way of living, especially for the class-conscious consumer (I would put them in some kind of order, but I think maybe they don't need "ordering"):

  • Sell one's SUV to a scrap yard and buy a new hybrid vehicle
  • Cut up extra credit cards--keep only one or at most two for holidays and emergencies
  • Plant trees whenever and wherever possible
  • Cultivate a green thumb lifestyle
  • Become a suburban gardener
  • If one wants something, put it off at least a month or two, and see if one still wants it so bad
  • Give extra trees to neighbors to plant
  • Mulch one's garden clippings
  • Earthworm one's vegetable garbage
  • Drive a smaller car
  • Eat slow food slowly
  • Eat more chicken, less cow
  • Eat fish, fruit and nuts, and fewer candy-bars and TV dinners
  • Xeriscape one's yard
  • Put in drip irrigation systems
  • Read a book rather than watch television
  • Turn off extra lights
  • Open the windows more
  • Acclimate oneself to the transient temperatures of the day and the night
  • Dress appropriate for the weather
  • Dress to unimpress
  • Collect used books
  • Spend more QT with one's family
  • Turn off the computers
  • Slow Down--put off until tomorrow what you need to do today
  • When in doubt, don't
  • Eat simple and basic things
  • Drink more water, fewer beverages
  • Save one's pennies, nickels and dimes in a piggy bank: "From the Pocket to the Piggy"
  • Life's usually a big joke, so laugh it all off
  • People are normally stupid and are not meant to be taken seriously
  • Build a bird feeder and hang it up in your newly planted backyard tree
  • Get a nice hand can opener
  • Get a nice hand coffee grinder
  • Be a skeptic and an "unbeliever"
  • Question everything and anyone


Affluenza and the Addiction of "Maximization"

If we are to better understand what is a minimalist lifestyle, we might benefit from contrasting it to the things it is not, and the things it is intended to counter-act in the world. I would call affluenza the obsessive-compulsive neurosis of modern living, made possible in  world in which over-consumption is not only easy to do, but often hard not to do. 

Of course, affluenza is more than just about over-consumption of fast-food and big automobiles. A consumer based society, that tries to maximize production and consumption, mandates and constrains patterns of habitual over-consumption regardless of indirect or long-term consequences. We are beset by commercialism as well as by the reciprocal expectations of others as to how to achieve status in our world--by the kind of car we drive, how we dress, who we associate with, what we can or cannot conspicuously consume, etc. It is about the never ending quest for status acquisition, the competition for success in the eye's and mind's eye of others, and the attempt to feel good about oneself and one's world through a form of vicarious fetishism.

Affluenza also translates into a kind of never-ending status quest, a kind of no-holds-barred socio-political competition for position and status, often at almost anyone's or everyone's net expense, and it is about working hard at not working too hard. The appearance is greater than the substance, and appearing to be busy and hard-working outweighs actually being busy and hard-working in a non-distracted and non-dilatory sense.

The dividends of successfully managing a case of affluenza can be large--a large home, a large life-style, a large ego, and a large pocket-book. But affluenza can also be terminal and run amok.