Monday, August 16, 2010

Considering The Cult of Less

The Wife and I are still inundated with stuff.  Yard sale troubles, tenant troubles, and house maintenance  troubles all have us wishing we could slim down more than ever.  Just this morning we were talking about how little we'd want to take with us, if we were to sell it all and move on to, say, an abandoned stone castle in the south of France.

So I can certainly understand the impulse behind the "Cult of Less."

Here's the Boingboing article, the BBC article, and the Cult of Less website.

It's amazing, when you think about it, how much modern baggage consists of CDs, DVDs, and books.  (At least we don't have so many cassettes and VHS tapes any more.)  All of that stuff can go on hard drives, now, or stream into our laptops from the "cloud".  The books seem to be the toughest hold-out, which is funny when you consider how easy they should be to digitize.  Just about the only complaint I have about my nook is how few books are available for it.  A couple million titles sounds like a lot, but I haven't been able to find Graham Greene on there, or Nabokov, or even very much Gene Wolfe, so I still find myself clinging to a lot of dead tree like an anachronism, at least until I finish a paperback and give it away.  (I like to follow Tyler Cohen's example of giving away all the books he loves, and throwing away the books he doesn't like, so they don't waste anyone else's time.)

You can only take the Cult of Less so far, though.  And it's a young man's cult, surely.  Some of those guys are giving up on housing, relying on friends with couches to put up with them when they need a place to sleep.  Which I imagine would be every night.  This must foster, at least, an understanding of good manners.  You'd better make a lot of friends, and you'd better be nice to them, if you expect to find a warm place to rest.  But there is no way around the fact that somebody, at least, must be paying the  taxes on the walls that keep the weather out.  We can't all own nothing, as liberating as that might feel.

(This also brings to mind a quote by Dave Chappelle:  "If men could f*** women in a cardboard box, they would never buy a house.")

And try being a member of the Cult of Less and having children.  I can't even imagine the burden of all those baby clothes, diapers, toys, cribs, insurance policies...

Still, The Wife and I are childless, and could theoretically get by with very little.  A few changes of clothes, a couple of laptop computers, and maybe the one car.  Four walls around us, or maybe the hull of a boat, could do for the rest.  I might even hang on to my Olivetti Lettera typewriter.  It doesn't take up that much room.

What is the absolute least you would take along, if you had to fit it all into a couple of suitcases?

1 comment:

  1. Great post, and I now live on less, much less but it took years to let it go. Last survivor of my imed. family I gained everyones personal belongings and of emotional fear let nearly none of it go for some time. The baggage can be overwelming. After over 20 moves with children and now none at home, I have pared recently down to three rooms from 3thousand square feet of house. It never felt so good! My husband and I have no real debt other than electric and daily living. We own no credit cards, and because of your wife, have returned to local shopping and skills we had forgotten of our youth. yeah Donna! Thanks again. My clothing is only a few changes after all you can only wear one set at a time anyway and this leaves room for the monthly dress challenges and other sewing projects and shoes are what is nessasary. If the stores had to rely on people like me to survive they would not last a week. Paring down is the best thing everyone can do, as it cleans your space, releases you of burden, and refocuses ones real need from want. Not that it is not ok to want, but it leaves one open to explore new areas such as 1956. People should be growing and exploring new all the time not burdened and held down by their stuff. I will say you sound over welmed not by your stuff so much as stress of life at the moment. Take time to sit and prioratize your situation and take it one area at a time. Tennents are troublesome at times and that is why land lords are so cautious. You are in a beautiful cottage, and if you look at it as your home for life, even if you travel or live other places for a while it will bring you peace knowing it is a perm. place to lay your head. It alone can bring you peace and warmth.