Archive | March, 2012

Zero things

31 Mar

There are many fascinating funeral traditions and highly diverse burial customs to be observed around the world, and through many ages past. Aboriginal peoples in South America, especially inhabitants of the Amazon, follow the custom of burying or burning all the possessions of the deceased. That means a person’s things die when they do. They are not passed on to be of use or value to others, as is typical of, for example, European cultures, which accumulate things (maybe 10.000 things, as we saw here). Nor are they buried with the dead to serve them in the afterlife, as we believe ancient Egyptian cultures, amongst others, did, providing opportunity for grave robbers or later cultures (or Indiana Jones/Lara Croft) to claim these things. They just cease to exist, if they are buried, they may push up daisies… sort of like an Ultimate Recycling. If we leave aside the reasons for the moment and focus on the relationship between people and their things (and others’ things) thats a radically different model to live by. How would our relationship to our things change, if we were to adopt such a system?


The ten thousand things

30 Mar


Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind become still.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.
The way of nature is unchanging.
Knowing constancy is insight.
Not knowing constancy leads to disaster.
Knowing constancy, the mind is open.
With an open mind, you will be openhearted.
Being openhearted, you will act royally.
Being royal, you will attain the divine.
Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao.
Being at one with the Tao is eternal.
And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.


Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness.
All can know good as good only because there is evil.
Therefore having and not having arise together.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short contrast each other:
High and low rest upon each other;
Voice and sound harmonize each other;
Front and back follow one another.
Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing, teaching no-talking.
The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease,
Creating, yet not possessing.
Working, yet not taking credit.
Work is done, then forgotten.
Therefore it lasts forever.

Can you get it down to 100 things?

29 Mar

There’s this guy called Dave who, “after years of living a life filled with stuff instead of contentment”, came up with The 100 Things Challenge: make do for one year with 100 items. Only 100 items. He beats Simon Evans by a whole order of magnitude: Whitney worked out Simon has about 1.122 things on his poster. And Simon beats the average European by another whole order of magnitude. I think the interesting and valuable thing about the Challenge is how it inspires people and engages them.  So many tried this out for themselves and came up with their own versions – even down to 50 Things – and counting!

Everything you have

28 Mar

They say the average European has 10.000 things. Its pretty hard to find out who they are but according to Simplify they were statisticians at the University of Paderborn in Germany, while Revierflaneur quotes from a catalogue to an exhibition (roughly translated as Which Things Do We Need?) that travelled to about 5 German museums in the mid-nineties. Either way my immediate mental picture is me picking up each of those 10.000 things at some time during any given year, cleaning them, washing them, drying them, dusting them off, maintaining them, repairing them, […] and putting them down again somewhere. Makes me tired just to think of it. So think: Ursus Wehrli. He’s the kind of guy you want to come and sort it all out for you. I mean, look at what he does for Alphabet Noodle Soup. And if you take him to the public swimming pool… Did I mention he’s Swiss or did you guess?


Everything he has

27 Mar

Simon Evans: Everything I Have, 2008. Pen, paper, scotch tape, white out. 60 1/4 X 40 1/8 inches. Can be seen online at the representing gallery James Cohan Gallery. I first saw this over at Barbara Putman Cramer’s sustainable-foodie-design blog Living Antenna. Here’s some more detail.


26 Mar

“Die großen Bedrohungen der Menschheit wie Krieg, Hunger und Umweltzerstörung sind nicht die Folge von Wissensdefiziten, sondern das Ergebnis des Mangels an Moral und gutem Willen.”

Norbert Blüm Freiheit!  Über die Enteignung der Kindheit und die Verstaatlichung der Familie. Eine Streitschrift. In: Die Zeit No 12 vom 15. März 2012, S. 75-76