Tag Archives: materialism

All that we keep

This week I’ve been devoting considerable mental bandwidth to wrestling with yet another paradoxical facet of my human nature. On the one side is my desire for simplicity. I did a stint as a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka years back, that’s how much I dig the minimalist lifestyle. But this ascetic existence didn’t really work out for me in the end, as I also love stuff. Not a lot of stuff, but nice stuff. It’s hard to be a renunciant with a Brooks Brothers card, but it is possible to reconcile this contradiction in a way that allows us to enjoy all the pleasures of material wealth, without indulging in it for its own sake. Continue reading

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Life the Movie

You’re not who you think you are. This, according to movies like The Matrix, Fight Club, the Bourne Identity, The Truman Show, Lost Highway and many others. Not only are you somebody else, but you are actually living “in a world where nothing is as it seems”, to quote one of the most popular movie trailer lines. This theme of alienation reflects our modern disconnectedness with ourselves, each other and especially with the natural world. The stories are popular because they provide an entertaining look at our own delusions, where we confuse our own identities with a diploma, a brand name, a job title or a neighborhood. Continue reading

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Getting & Spending

Having spent my last 16 or so Christmases in Asia, I don’t feel its commercial impact the way I did in the U.S. I honestly don’t miss it. This year we bought a good-sized potted conifer and put it on a small rug in the den by the fireplace (the one we’ve yet to use). My wife and I will exchange small gifts and invite a bunch of friends & neighbors over for a barbeque (it’s around 25c during the day this time of year in Northern Thailand). I know it’s popular to bemoan the fact that Christmas has become so commercial, but I believe that Consumerism is a modern religion and that Christmas in the West perfectly expresses it. Continue reading

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