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Minimalish [30 Sep 2010|11:36am]

I really enjoyed reading this post on BoingBoing about a good traveling coffee setup, since it's something I've been thinking about a lot myself. I just purchased a travel french press for this reason (won't bother to link to it as I haven't used it yet and maybe it sucks). My concern is less with the quality of hotel coffee than it is with the fact that I often seem to stay with people who don't drink coffee. In those situations I end up feeling very much like — okay, being — a needy addict.

But there seems to be a little confusion in that post about what it means to be a "minimalist." I don't think you can really say "I am a minimalist" when what you are saying is, "I require only a digital scale, a manual burr grinder, a slow-pour kettle, a pour-over brew attachment, a bottle of spring water, and a bag of beans roasted no more than ten days prior, in order to make coffee while traveling."

This is a frequent misuse on BoingBoing and in the tech world. Having a clever or elegant setup to accomplish something does not make you a minimalist; neither does converting your belongings to digital formats. Minimalism is about attachment to things and the multiplication of needs — just because you are able to live in a 100 square foot apartment after consolidating all of your books, CDs, and other bulky objects to which you might be attached on one laptop (in the process, intensifying your attachment to that one physical object and adding many new needs which did not exist before you more fully entered the digital world, such as dependencies on bandwidth, power, and online services) does not make you a minimalist.

Some of the people doing these things are taking other steps which actually are minimalist, like getting rid of books or photos without converting them to digital; my point is just that often those steps are lumped in with others which aren't.

Mobility is a consequence of minimalism, but not everything that makes you more mobile makes you more minimal.

(And no, I'm not a minimalist. I require a Zassenhaus, a Chemex, filtered water, and beans roasted no more than 10 days prior, in order to make coffee.)

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