Happy new year to everyone from Mindpluckd. Thank you all for your feedback on the minimalism and simplicity of the site. It sparked a thought in me to write about Minimalism and the origin of the concepts. There is so much to learn about minimalism and I have tried to cover all such thoughts surrounding the idea of minimalism. So here it goes;
Minimalism as a concept is mostly used in music and art. According to Merriam-Webster, in the 1960s, a few composers, including Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and John Adams, began writing music inspired by the music of India and Southeast Asia, often with a quick pulsing beat and chords that are repeated quickly over and over while small changes are slowly introduced. Minimalist art, which began appearing around the same time, tries to strip away all personal elements, often leaving only pure geometric forms; you may have seen the plain silver boxes of Donald Judd, or the straight neon tubes of Bruce Nauman. In literature, the stripped-down fiction of Samuel Beckett and Raymond Carver is often considered minimalist. Minimalism simply means ‘having no more than required’. I think ‘Politician’ is the antonym – just saying.
For us to truly understand minimalism and how different it is from being spiritual and start giving all we have, let us shed light on minimalistic music and arts. Minimalist music is characterized by a strong and relentless pulse, the insistent repetition of short melodic fragments, and harmonies that change over long periods of time. It helps build a strong emotion – curiosity.
Minimalist art is driven by some key ideas that were drastic and often the minimalist artists distanced themselves from the Abstract Expressionists by removing suggestions from their art or metaphors of any kind. This denial of expression coupled with an interest in making objects that avoided the appearance of fine art led to the creation of sleek, geometric works that purposefully and radically eschew conventional aesthetic appeal. This has influenced Architecture in many ways as well.
Concepts like minimalism are recent concepts and have inspirations strongly driven by music and art. Google’s pure android and Apple’s iOS have been great examples of minimalism of the modern day. As smartphones started to evolve in the early 2000’s the developers started adding more and more features to the phone and exploit the computing power to the fullest. The firmware usually ended up having a lot of bloat and deviated from the main idea of simplifying usage. This is the reason why Apple iPhone was such a huge hit. Steve Jobs made it simple for a common man to use a smart phone while the Java and Symbian based Nokia’s were getting more and more complex. However, Nokia moved on to Windows which was minimal but did not work for various reasons. Perhaps the best example of minimalist concept gone too far. Companies like Samsung and HTC to this day do not provide users with the minimalist experience because their customers demand – exuberance.
Best example for a car manufacturer with minimalist car designs is Volkswagen. The Beetle is the highest selling car in the world. The car as such didn’t receive any major design changes for decades. FYI for you petrol heads, Toyota Corolla sold more than the Beetle but it involved many generations of the car and sometimes a whole new car that used a Corolla badge. So the clear winner is Beetle.
What impressed the world is the simplicity of the Beetle. It was aerodynamic, decently powerful and was comfortable. Americans would reject the car if it didn’t have big powerful V8 but they wholeheartedly accepted the Beetle. To this day, VW cars have simple and purpose oriented designs which has continued to impress customers.
Humans are weird sometimes, we spend so much time to invent things that are highly complex and get addicted to it. Then spend double the time to simplify it and by then a new invention would have emerged which is more complex. Why do we switch? – Curiosity. Why do we get addicted to it? – Fun/Happiness. The driving factor is and always will be happiness. We were happy with video games and then TV video games rolled out and the world went crazy. We had to connect numerous cables get the video game cartridge cleaned and it was the same exercise every time we wanted to play. We simplified it and hence playstations/xbox came up. Even our smartphones can be graphics that complex devices earlier could not. Technology is getting minimalistic. We don’t use applications on the phone if the application file size is too big.
We are subconsciously driven towards minimalism. But two things always obstructs the idea of complete minimalism – curiosity and satisfaction. Curiosity drives innovation and innovation drives change. Our satisfaction levels change as the world around us is constantly changing by evolving technologies and innovation in various fields.
Minimalism – as a way of life
Till now we only shed light on the material world and the minimalism applications to the objects around us. Let us look inside now and ask if we are minimalists by character. According to me, minimalism with respect to character is closely relatable to spirituality. Spirituality has never been about God and Worship, if you really spend time in reading about spirituality you will understand that it is about finding yourself.
Some of you may already be minimalists by character. Thinking about the past and constantly worrying about the future is the complex abstract design of the human mind but a minimalist knows how to simplify it and concentrate on the necessary. As defined earlier, minimalism is to ‘think no more than required’. Mind is the most powerful thing ever and successful people will vouch for it. They have mastered the qualities of minimalism and to concentrate thoughts on one single goal at a time.
While another question will arise – how can requirement be quantified or specified? This is where diversity plays a role. Each and everyone one of us have different views of requirement. Requirement changes with affordability and the intent to spend. Our life’s journey is about understanding what we need. Sooner we understand, sooner we can focus all our will towards it.
A highest level of a minimalistic ideal is to not expect. Expectation is the thief of joy and joy is the ultimate objective of minimalism.
Concepts about minimalism can never be concluded but can be further questioned. Factors like Curiosity, Satisfaction and Affordability continue to affect Happiness. The algorithm to arrive at happiness is constantly changing. Let us drive for simplistic views to life and not clutter our thoughts with complex designs. Let us listen to music that makes us happy.
Art and music of minimalist genre drive this simplicity and the depth of thoughts in such designs. Curiosity in people when answered or overcome gives rise to satisfaction. This is what marketing and promotion techniques offer to corporates – emotions of the customer. Minimal advertisement and media campaigns are found to be more effective than the ones which have too much going on.
Let us be curious but not let curiosity take over sanity. Happiness is attained mostly by experiences and hence let us spend time and money on such experiences. The highest joy is in making others happy as it declutters our own mind. It opens up various emotions that help us grow happier by the day. No matter what concept we can think of like minimalism the ultimate objective is to be happy. Being happy for a long period of time shows that you are minimal.
Let us rewind and see the longest period of time we were happy for. That phase after which a situation took away that happiness. Let us deep dive into such situations and consider other ways to react so that we can sustain happiness for a little longer. Let us have a conscious approach to life.
Courtesy: Music facts: Merriam-Webster and All Music. Art facts: The Art Story.