When Minimal Isn’t Enough

by Randy Murray on December 16, 2013

Minimalism isn’t about having or doing the very least. It’s about having or doing things simply, when simple is best.

I enjoy simplicity, but I also dearly enjoy extravagance and blowing the top off when it’s called for.

You can watch a movie on your phone, but in my opinion you are not practicing minimalism by doing this, you’re degrading the experience far below the point where it remains the full work of art you started out to enjoy. Movies are designed for a specialized environment. When you start stripping away the elements that the team of artists designed, you begin to diminish it. Movies and theater are about letting the artists shape your experience. When you take over control and say, “no, I don’t care about the sound or the picture or some other factor—I want to do it this way instead,” then you are doing more than simplifying your life—you are destroying the experience.

Movies are about a BIG experience. Substituting small or reducing any part diminishes them.

My standard is pretty high for movies, but this approach applies to a number of activities.  Sometimes a bit of street theater, a backyard puppet show, can be moving and life changing. Or it can be tedious. You can see the local middle school production of “The Book of Mormon” or you can make the trip to NYC, pay the shocking ticket prices, and see it there in all its glory. The discount slab of meat on sale at the supermarket can be a filling dinner, but it can also be tough and bland.  And, frankly, I don’t much like watching movies on a TV in a living room, either.

For myself, I enjoy living a quiet, simple life. And then, every once and a while, I need to be reminded of the wonderful, the possible. Sometimes maximal is called for.

That helps me determine where to draw the line. What I once thought extravagant may be just right.

And that’s the key. The minimal for some movies is an IMAX 3D theater and a full crowd. Sometimes circumstances really do call for a $200 bottle of whisky, a dry aged angus steak, grilled to perfection, and a bespoke suit with a silk tie with a freshly starched and pressed shirt.

Sometime soon I hope to be seated in a filled theater experiencing live opera. It’s expensive. It takes planning and preparation. It requires my focus and attention for an extended period of time. It is, in my opinion, the minimal experience. It is not the same thing to listen to the music at home through my headphones. That is a different thing altogether.

Going to the theater, the opera, the movies, are all about the experience. They’re experiences that we need. And that simply cannot be done on a four inch screen and through tiny stereo speakers.

In these times extravagance is simply minimalism from another point of view.



When Minimal Isn’t Enough by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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