Friday, July 15, 2011

Running Toward Emptiness

I've been on the journey toward minimalism for the better part of a year and a half now. It was a natural inclination that found a window of opportunity when I was recovering from surgery last year and was definitely inspired and encouraged by TR. She is my touchstone of simplicity among other things.

I woke up this morning thinking about minimalism, thinking about the journey to simplicity, and specifically thinking about what my next steps will be. I've got new carpet coming into the apartment on the 29th. To facilitate that I need to move everything off the old carpet onto the portions of the apartment that are hardwood or linoleum. Since I've minimalized it's all actually going to all probably fit in the kitchen.I may move some of the longer term storage stuff out to the storage unit near my carport. I've flagged half a dozen items of furniture to go.

And I'm about to start when may be close to the final run to simplicity. As I approach it I feel like I felt when I donated my Encyclopaedia Britannica. I feel attached to the things I'm going to sort through and donate. Though there is no real attachment when I think about it it's all an illusion. One of my other personal touchstones as I've gone through this process has been sort of the utilitarian approach to it. I made sure the value of things based on whether or not I use them. It takes some effort but I've learned to set aside my assigned value. I'm learning to understand that just because society or someone else thinks something has value doesn't mean it actually does.

So that brings me to the point where I'm standing right here, right now. Having spent the day in contemplation, having searched for some sort of theme, some sort of inspirational reference, I decided to take an approach that will limit what I retain. Two of the areas where I'm going to do some healthy purging are my movie collection and my books. Now, I haven't touched my movie collection yet. I have previously purchased a lot of books. The book part of it is going to be fairly easy, the reality of many of these books is as much as I like them I don't use them.

And it's that same reality that's going to let me purge a big portion of my movie collection. The truth of the matter is two thirds of my movies I will in all probability never watch again. I'm going to try and restrict it even more, I'm going to try and keep only 50 movies at the most. I'm going to aim at keeping 50 movies and 50 books. I'm going to aim at keeping one five shelf bookcase. I'm going to try and get the entire collection into it.

Honestly, I expected to be hard. Donating the Encyclopaedia Britannica's set was not easy. I really struggled with that for several months. But in the end utility wins out. If I'm not using it what value does it truly half. Most of the movies you can buy for five bucks to for 10 some cheaper some may be a dollar or so more. And of course it got almost no resale value two bucks at best. So why let them take up the space in my life? Purely and simply they need to go.

TR said something the other day when we were talking about a related subject that's actually given me some fuel for this last purge. We were talking about the changes of technology and she had commented that everything of course is going digital and that includes our movies and music. That was an inspiring thing to say. DVD's are going the way of videotapes, they are nearing the end of their run. Regardless of my attachment to them their value falls every single day.with on demand and streaming they've rapidly becoming irrelevant.

So here I sit, on the edge of another short journey of simplicity, coming closer and closer to my goal of minimalism. I'm actually kind of excited about it. I think that the end of this cycle of purging I'm going to come very close to having maybe 10% of what I had when I started two years ago.

Now there is one thing that I'm keeping, one item that I'm clinging to. That item is my comic book collection. My collection of comic books and graphic novels and trades. I'm going to parse through it in the coming months, simply because it needs a good pruning. But that's a pruning I actually routinely do. Like novels some comic books are read once and forget. When it comes time to forget them you simply forget them. Comic books and graphic novels are one medium that has yet to successfully migrate into the digital world. Oh, you can find all kinds of scanned works on the internet. But, a big part of the older of comic books and graphic novels is the format.with that format comes a certain look, certain feel, certain texture.

TR and I had talked about that in regards to regular books. I'm a big fan of my Kindle, I do probably 80% of my reading on the Kindle.but there are certain books we need the actual book. There is a substance to a book that's lost in the digital media. Again, it's texture, it's scent, it's look, it's feel. All of those contribute to the nature of books themselves. It's definitely a Neo-Platonic kind of thing.the shadow of the book is not the book itself. Electronic text is just a shadow of a book. We can learn a lot from that shadow, that shadow can be very revealing, but in the end there is some substance, some invisible essence, that resides in the form of a book. There is a purity in a book, appeared either doesn't exist in electronic text. Poetry, art, philosophy, great literature – all of those best reside between the covers of a book. Does my lifelong love affair with books reveal itself? Good, it should.

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