From tiny houses to microapartments to monochromatic clothing to interior-decorating trends — picture white walls interrupted only by succulents — less now goes further than ever.
…minimalism’s ban on clutter as a “privilege” that runs counter to the value ascribed to an abundance of objects by those who have suffered from a lack of them — less-empowered people like refugees or immigrants. The movement, such as it is, is led in large part by a group of men who gleefully ditch their possessions as if to disavow the advantages by which they obtained them. But it takes a lot to be minimalist: social capital, a safety net and access to the internet. The technology we call minimalist might fit in our pockets, but it depends on a vast infrastructure of grim, air-conditioned server farms and even grimmer Chinese factories. As Lerner’s protagonist observes in “10:04,” even a dull convenience like a can of instant coffee grounds reaches him thanks to a fragile and tremendously wasteful network of global connections, a logistics chain that defies all logic, one undergirded by exploited laborers and vast environmental degradation.
There’s an arrogance to today’s minimalism that presumes it provides an answer rather than, as originally intended, a question: What other perspectives are possible when you look at the world in a different way? The fetishized austerity and performative asceticism of minimalism is a kind of ongoing cultural sickness. We misinterpret material renunciation, austere aesthetics and blank, emptied spaces as symbols of capitalist absolution, when these trends really just provide us with further ways to serve our impulse to consume more, not less.
Djelibeybi really was a small, self-centred kingdom. Even its plagues were half-hearted. All self-respecting river kingdoms have vast supernatural plagues, but the best the Old Kingdom had been able to achieve in the last hundred years was the Plague of Frog.*
* It was quite a big frog, however, and got into the air ducts and kept everyone awake for weeks.
Exercise Robin Sage is a month-long training exercise focused on blending in in a foreign land and training guerrilla units to liberate their country. Seems pretty tame so far, but surprisingly, not many countries are really down with the whole “let a hundred American troops run around and stir up rebellion in our country for a month” idea. So America decided to simply create its own country to train in. Welcome to the Republic of Pineland, baby!
The People’s Republic of Pineland is an entirely fictional country created for one purpose: to put the USASF through their paces. And when we say it’s a fictional “country,” we’re including the people – the residents are straight up part of the mission. The cities and towns within the 15 counties that comprise the training zone actively participate in the month-long training, with its citizens posing as citizens of “Pineland” in a vast, government-funded, open-air role playing game.
People there take on a large variety of roles, from doctors and shop owners right down to one guy who has to torture other citizens before being killed in a final showdown with the soldiers. They even carry two sets of ID and have their own currency, with an exchange rate and everything. They don’t stop their normal jobs, either – the guy whose job it is to pretend to be a torturer is also a volunteer firefighter in his spare time.