We recently opened a reader survey. We’ve received 71 responses so far, which I think is pretty good. The survey can still be completed here.
This post will undoubtedly be a little dry, but since the results are collectively yours, I’d like to share them with you and offer a few musings:
Most readers rate the printed magazine ‘Good’ (4/5) or ‘Brilliant’ (5/5), which is quite a complement. The main suggestions for improvement were ‘more articles about practicalities’ and ‘more esoteric, historical or philosophical pieces’, with very few people lusting after fiction or poetry. This suggests we’re largely doing the right thing and you can expect more of the same in future issues.
Most readers rate the blog as ‘Good’ (4/5). Most (30) advise we change nothing about the blog, but significant minorities want longer (10) and more frequent entries (14). Four people suggested we ‘kill the blog’, which is fair enough.
Leo Babauta is the founder of the Zen Habits website and books and (more pertinently to this post) the website, Mnmlist. His sites have thousands of readers. I caught up with Leo by email and asked him a few questions for the advanced minimalist:
Q: After minimalism, do you find yourself treasuring the things still in your possession or do they weigh upon you as stubborn things that wouldn’t wash away?
Leo: I don’t think about them much. The things in my possessions are just things. They are there because I need them, not because I love them. I have a T-shirt because otherwise I’d be cold, not because it’s beautiful and gives me joy. Going outside and playing with my kids gives me joy. Minimalism is a way for me to let go of thinking about things so much.
Q: Do you feel that digital entities (mp3s, eBooks etc) constitute clutter in the same way that physical objects do? Should we try to save virtual real estate as well as physical space?
Leo: A few years ago I moved from organizing all my files into folders, to forgetting about them and using search to find what I need — this includes mp3s, documents, emails. Search eliminates the need to organize, though you can purge if you’re using up too much space.
More important than worrying about digital files is being aware of digital buying. If you buy things mindlessly because it’s easy — apps, music, movies, ebooks — that’s mindless consumerism. That’s something you should become aware of.
Q: I converted to minimalism as a personal preference but I find myself thinking more and more about the green benefits of reduction. How relevant is the environmental issue to you?
Leo: It’s at the heart of minimalism. Environmental problems have become so overpowering because we have let corporate consumerism become more important than how we treat each other, how we live with nature … than living in general. Minimalism is striking back against that. When you let go of corporate consumerism, you let go of the need to overconsume, to buy horrible amounts of things and waste so many natural resources.
Our stint at Expozine found us made useful local friends including a few retailers.
Special thanks to Billy for accommodating us.
The next issue of New Escapologist is dedicated to Bohemia. Since there’s a bit of consternation about what we really mean by ‘Bohemia’, let’s try and nail the thing:
Bohemia is a state of mind: a threadbare but vibrant Utopia in which one can prioritise the tenets of creativity, love, merriment, experimentation and arousal of the senses. The people who believe in Bohemia and practice Bohemianism are called Bohemians.
What often comes to mind is the archetypal Bohemian of history: the Nineteenth-Century starving artist, living in a drafty Parisian garret, prone to flights of Romantic fancy and fits of over-indulgence. This is a fair image but these attributes are symbolic of the above-mentioned tenets and Bohemians can be found throughout the Twentieth Cenury (the Surrealists, the Dadaists, the Hippies, Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation William S. Burroughs, George Orwell in Paris and London and possibly the Punks) and surely in the present day.
This weekend, Samara and I attended the Expozine small press fair in Montreal. Sam was selling her colouring book, Shanti’s Book of Panties and together we sold copies of New Escapologist Issues One, Three and Four.
It was a brilliant experience. I’ve never seen so many dealers and consumers of independent media under one roof. I’m told it is the biggest event of its type in North America. Almost everyone to whome we spoke was enthusiastic about Expozine and indie media in general. A journalist called Jeremiah had a very positive outlook, explaining that many of the big, exciting cultural movements – the Surrealists, the Beat poets, John Lennon, the Merry Pranksters, movements in jazz – began as single events such as this one. These happenings become legend. A nice outlook, I thought.
A 1957 episode of Hancock’s Half-Hour has just appeared on the BBC iPlayer. It can be enjoyed until 17th November but I imagine you can stream it elsewhere too.
This episode – The Wild Man of the Woods – is a great satire of back-to-the-landism and those of us who petulantly choose to go against societal norms. He’s taking the piss out of us but it’s healthy to be reminded of one’s absurdity from time to time. Enjoy!