Don’t you wish you were free, Lenina?

Don’t you wish you were free, Lenina?”

“I don’t know what you mean. I am free. Free to have the most wonderful time. Everybody’s happy nowadays.”

He laughed, “Yes, ‘Everybody’s happy nowadays.’ We have been giving the children that at five. But wouldn’t you like to be free to be happy in some other way, Lenina? In your own way, for example; not in everybody else’s way.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” she repeated.

Exchange between Bernard Marx and Lenina
Aldoux Huxley, Brave New World

Don’t you wish you were free, Lenina?

Heavy handed? Yes, but it makes the point. This is why I’m a minimalist. I want the freedom and flexibility to pursue my own definition of happiness. To like what I like, to live as I choose to live, and not be pressured to conform. To not do things because everyone else does, to buy things because everyone else has them, to pretend to be happy because I’m expected to act like I’m happy.

Brave New World is always worth a re-read. No, it did not literally predict the future, but I think metaphorically a lot of the themes still resonate with the things that have gone off the rails in modern society.

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HUBRIS 11 April 2021: Check Out My Podcast!

This is Hubris: 11 April 2021 Edition, the newsletter where I think I’ve written something worth reading. Today I want to talk about the new podcast, and give you some updates on other projects!

unqualified with berin kinsman

UNQUALIFIED is a podcast about minimalism, defiance, and inner peace. The first two episodes are out now! In the first episode I explain what I’m trying to express by doing this podcast. The second episode explores why minimalists have so much to say about such a seemingly simple concept.

For the moment the show is exclusively on Patreon, but you can listen to the first to episodes for FREE without having to become a patron. There are 4 additional episodes already recorded and scheduled, with more on the way.

Project Mushroom Update

The search for new studio space is in a holding pattern right now. I expect to get some news in the coming week, so that we can move forward. Things like the podcast will be a lot easier to produce, and sound better, when we have a dedicated space to do it. I moved ahead with launching it this week because the timeline on this can’t be nailed down. If I put everything into a holding pattern until certain things are resolved, I could be sitting idle for months.

For the moment, I’m focusing on decluttering and organizing. We’re going to be moving at some point. Things need to be sold off, given away, recycled, or thrown out prior to the move, so I might as well do it now. I’m trying to use the waiting time to get as prepared as possible. It also isn’t a bad idea to pare things down anyway. Most people would think I own next to nothing, but I think I own way too much crap.

Project Acorn Update

A strategic partner just threw another curveball at me this week, in the form of updated specifications. Fortunately I hadn’t gotten to the thing that needs to be done differently yet. It’s not a matter of having to do things over, it’s just having to alter the plans a little bit.

While there are some portions of this project that can’t be completed until we’re in the new studio space, there’s a lot that can be done. I’m trying to get as much, if not all, of that done ahead of time. Then once we’re in the new space, I can immediately begin to leverage it.

In Case You Missed It

HUBRIS 11 April 2021

Tempering Minimalism with Gratitude

Katie pointed out an article on HuffPost, about a couple that had to move in with the wife’s parents. The point of the article was, presumably, how rough things are out in the world today. The number of younger people moving back in with their parents was cited. But Katie was incensed. While there was a not to how grateful they were that the retired parents could take them in, the root cause of the situation is what made my wife furious. It got me thinking about tempering minimalism with gratitude, or maybe the other way around.

This couple wasn’t blindsided by a sour economy. No one was unexpectedly laid off. They didn’t lose their apartment because of lost income, or the landlord jacking up the rent. Their situation was 100% the result of their own actions. The author of the article might try to argue that it wasn’t, but let’s look at the facts.

The husband was close to graduating with a Ph.D. They assumed that meant job offers would be pouring in. Based on that assumption, they did not renew the lease on the apartment they could currently afford. She describes it as “crumbling”, but it was a roof over their heads with a door that locks. Even though neither of them had anything lined up, she gave notice at her place of employment. They had no savings to fall back on. Then he got no job offers, the lease ran out, she left her job, and they didn’t have anywhere to go or the means to go there.

Tempering Minimalism with Gratitude

I think that the heart of genuine gratitude begins with acknowledging that the universe owes you nothing. Anything good, anything of value, that you manage to acquire should be cherished. Tempering minimalism with gratitude means appreciating what you have, rather than fretting over what you don’t. Sometimes that requires you to give thanks for things you don’t want, but still desperately need. Like, you know, the crappy apartment or the job you absolutely hate.

That doesn’t mean you should hold onto things “just in case”. It does mean that maybe you shouldn’t put the old bed out on the curb and sleep on the floor if you don’t have to. Maybe wait until you get the new bed. Don’t quit the job you hate unless you have some savings that allow you to take a risk, or already have another jo lined up. Don’t decide you’re not renewing the lease until you know you have another place to live.

There are people who end up in these situations, not by their own choices. We have little control over our lives already. Why relinquish the agency we do have not to take a risk on a solid plan, but to hopes, dreams, and wishes? I don’t think the couple in the article would have made the choices they did if they had considered all of the possible consequences, and held any genuine gratitude for what they had rather than longing for what they didn’t.

Education must transform itself into sociology

All political instruction finally should be centered upon the idea that Auschwitz should never happen again… This would be possible only when it devotes itself openly, without fear of offending any authorities, to this most important of problems. To do this, education must transform itself into sociology, that is, it must teach about the societal play of forces that operates beneath the surface of political forms.”

Theodor Adorno, Education After Auschwitz

There are more things affecting society than which political party is in power. Things like systemic racism and income inequality aren’t a Republican issue or a Democrat issue, they’re a cultural issue. “The societal play of forces the operate beneath the surface of political forms”. That’s the content of the entertainment we consume. It’s the attitudes on social media we put up with. They’re things we accept as normative because they’re pervasive and seemingly always have been.

Critical thinking must be taught. Question authority at every turn. Not just political authority but cultural authority. The sitcom plotlines and the thing the influencer did and the stories that the news chooses to cover. We need to be able to see not just the way things really are, but to imagine where they may lead. And then we need to take action when that scares the hell out of us.

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Education must transform itself into sociology


UNQUALIFIED Episode 2: Why Minimalists Won’t Shut Up

Hello and welcome to UNQUALIFIED, a podcast about minimalism, defiance, and inner peace. I’m your host, Berin Kinsman, and today in UNQUALIFIED Episode 2 we’re going to talk about why minimalists won’t shut the hell up about minimalism, and why there are so many books, blogs, and podcasts on the subject. You’ll get to see my cynical side, understand more about why I see minimalism as an act of defiance, and see why I think spreading the word about minimalism is incredibly important in this jacked-up mess of a world we live in.

Listen now on Patreon!

UNQUALIFIED Episode 2: Why Minimalists Won’t Shut Up About Minimalism

UNQUALIFIED with Berin Kinsman is a podcast about minimalism, defiance, and inner peace. Not all minimalists are Steve Jobs cosplayers in black shirts, mommy vloggers, or decluttering fetishists. There’s nothing wrong with those niches, but that ain’t me and it’s probably not you, either. I want to tell you about my experiences in living with less, offer up food for thought on why you should consider a minimalist life, and encourage you to be mindful about your relationship to the world around you. New episodes released weekly, blissfully concise at around 10 minutes each.

Berin Kinsman is a writer and simple living minimalist. He currently resides in a shared studio space with his wife, the arts educator Katie Kinsman.