And somehow, we as a culture may have stopped or are afraid to teach ourselves that pleasure is dangerous and that some kinds of pleasure are better than others and that part of being a human being means deciding how much of active participation do we want to have in our own lives. … It is a really (sort of) exciting opportunity to decide whether our relationship to the world is going to be fundamentally passive and infantile or one that is (sort of) active and hard and takes more work.

— DFW, in conversation with Wisconsin Public Radio’s “To The Best Of Our Knowledge” program, 1996.

As Duane Elgin has famously defined it, voluntary simplicity is ‘a manner of living that is outwardly simple and inwardly rich,… a deliberate choice to live with less in the belief that more life will be returned to us in the process.’ According to the most prominent historian of the Simplicity Movement, David Shi, the primary attributes of the simple life include: thoughtful frugality; a suspicion of luxuries; a reverence and respect for nature; a desire for self-sufficiency; a commitment to conscientious rather than conspicuous consumption; a privileging of creativity and contemplation over possessions; an aesthetic preference for minimalism and functionality; and a sense of responsibility for the just uses of the world’s resources. More concisely, Shi defines voluntary simplicity as ‘enlightened material restraint.’
Voluntary simplicity , furthermore, does not mean indiscriminately renouncing all the advantages of science and technology. It does not mean living in a cave, giving up all the benefits of electricity, or rejecting modern medicine. But it does question the assumption that science and technology are always the most reliable paths to health, happiness, and sustainability. […] Voluntary simplicity, then, involves taking a thoughtfully sceptical stance in relation to technology and science, rejecting those aspects which seem to cost more than they come to, all things considered.

— Samuel Alexander: Reimagining the Good Life Beyond Consumer Culture (Paper, link)

Citing David Shi, The Simple Life: Plain Living and High Thinking in American Culture and Duane Elgin, Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life that is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich

The way we represent ourselves online has devolved from the quirky, personalised, HTML webpage-homepage of the 90s to the somewhat modular but still strange presence of a MySpace page, to the completely formatted and market-friendly presence of a Facebook page… What we’ve done is [we have] moved from personal, human, open-ended self-expression to completely market and computer-friendly, regimented and conformist expression. And that is because we have turned the net from a venue for self-expression to a way to render ourselves up onto the market.

Douglas Rushkoff, from Stare Into The Lights My Pretties

Also, zverina.com, the quirky, HTML home to an email newsletter I willingly receive and look forward to.

First, it aims our focus at the root cause of Anthropocenic climate change – an accelerated mode of existence that is impossible without fossil fuels. Indeed, I might amend Aldo Leopold’s land ethic of 1949: ‘A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community.’ It is wrong, Illich and I would argue, when it moves faster than the speed of a bicycle. If we found ways to eliminate inefficient acceleration, we would lessen the snarged victims of the world, but there would also be some obvious beneficial cascading effects.

Gary Coll writes on the ethics of roadkill and our need for speed. (Aeon, Link)

 

Jef Mallett’s Frazz (like Calvin and Hobbes, all grown up and riding bikes to work) at GoComics. Many gems in there.

See La Belle Verte (The Green Beautiful) and Down from the Mountains, from 1996 and 2017.

The Green Beautiful explores the idea of an utopia holding a fine mirror to our broken reality. The film is silly and self-aware. Down from the Mountains is the tale of a family separated by mountains and money. A mother in Verte quips ‘but they don’t have lipstick’ in a moment that refuses to linger with delusions of grandeur. In Mountains, the mother of six holds banknotes against the light as she double-checks the sum she is paid for peppercorns and wonders if it wouldn’t be great if she didn’t have to.

From LSC, a no-frills explanation of alienation

Chris Ware’s Last Saturday over at the Guardian. Three years new.