Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ode to Persian Rugs

The Hungarians have a . . . well, how shall I put it? We are known for liking pretty, opulent things. Aesthetic complex? Although I don't see why it is such a terrible crime to have a chandelier in a bathroom. It's my bathroom, after all. How does that impinge on anyone else? 

Creating a beautiful home, daubed in bright paint and bird-themed throw pillows, is a lovely hobby. One's surroundings are a balm to the soul, an uplifter of the spirits. Every time I walk into the living room (from which kinfauna are banned), I sigh in delight. For reals.
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/eb/4d/9f/eb4d9ff9ed9899241fe7735eccb737d9.jpg
Mario Buatta is Ma's favorite decorator.
There is a school of Jewish thought that frowns upon such attachment to physicality. Yet are we not also told that this world is for enjoyment? I heard in a shiur that simchas yom tov for men is in the food; for women, it is in clothing and bling. Good thing too, since I'm not partial to red meat. 

Currently, "minimalism" is in; sleek, functional, modern houses full of sharp corners and cold floors, not a cuddly spot to be found. There's that tidying-up book from Korea that went platinum. People are eager to toss out the unnecessary. 

Yet I am not the only one to find such an outlook unappealing ("The Oppressive Gospel of Minimalism" by Kyle Chayka). 
Part pop philosophy and part aesthetic, minimalism presents a cure-all for a certain sense of capitalist overindulgence. Maybe we have a hangover from pre-recession excess — McMansions, S.U.V.s, neon cocktails, fusion cuisine — and minimalism is the salutary tonic. Or perhaps it’s a method of coping with recession-induced austerity, a collective spiritual and cultural cleanse because we’ve been forced to consume less anyway. But as an outgrowth of a peculiarly American (that is to say, paradoxical and self-defeating) brand of Puritanical asceticism, this new minimalist lifestyle always seems to end in enabling new modes of consumption, a veritable excess of less. It’s not really minimal at all.
Have you noticed that minimalism allows only comes in white and gray? Why can't being minimalist be cerulean blue? Does minimalism mean that it can't be attractive at all?
Today’s minimalism, by contrast, is visually oppressive; it comes with an inherent pressure to conform to its precepts. Whiteness, in a literal sense, is good. Mess, heterogeneity, is bad — the opposite impulse of artistic minimalism. It is anxiety-inducing in a manner indistinguishable from other forms of consumerism, not revolutionary at all. Do I own the right things? Have I jettisoned enough of the wrong ones?
That's why I'm lame at cleaning out drawers or closets; there could possibly be a use for this item in the near future. It always seems that as soon as I donate something I come up for a use for it next week. 

For me, clutter can be delicious. Providing it passes the Hungarian "pretty" test.  

2 comments:

Daniel Saunders said...

I heard in a shiur that simchas yom tov for men is in the food; for women, it is in clothing and bling

Hmm, I think the same source (the Rambam, IIRC) says that for children it's sweets... Also, the men are supposed to buy the clothes, not just hand over the credit card. Be careful what you wish for!

I live in enforced minimalism, as I live in a tiny flat (actually a converted garage) and my landlord doesn't let me put anything on the (white) walls. I do have various things blu tacked to the cupboard doors though, mostly stuff to inspire me (print outs of emails from friends, stuff about not being a perfectionist, a long quote from Doctor Who). The only pictures are family photos on top of the cupboard - too high, but there isn't anywhere else I can put them. I think I favour something between stark minimalism and clutter. Definitely lots of books and wooden book cases. I used to favour dark woods (mahogany, oak), but am currently fond of pine.

Anonymous said...

Everything ok? Been quiet lately... Or just regular busy?