Minimalism means living without ballast. Culture and art historian Heike Derwanz notes that he is phenomenally guided “by people leaving the excess of social and media space” and drawn to the personality or individual. Since minimalism characterizes an orientation towards naturalness and sustainability, it can therefore also be characterized as a “cocooning” strategy. Psychologically, he does not turn the people of contemporary culture into the essentials of their personality, but how to say “from the outside”.
It is about absorbing the “essence of life” and living in the present.
In the 18th century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau advocated a “return to nature.” 100 years later this was implemented in America by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), the son of a pencil maker. In his work “Walden or Life in the Woods” (1854), the poet, philosopher, topographer and teacher describes his two years of simple and independent life in nature. Human wealth can be measured by the things “that man can do without losing the good spirit.” In terms of luxury and comfort, the wisest would always have lived a simpler and poorer life than the poor: “No one was poorer than they. […] “Philosophers in foreign wealth, no one is so rich in domestic wealth.” Thoreau lived Spartanly in a small wooden hut for two years, two months and two days, in which he wanted to find out if life with nature was possible and if thought flowed more. freely, if the ballast of civilization is dispersed. In the 20th century, this socio-political attitude is reflected in Mahatma Gandhi’s lifestyle and dress.
Thoreau is being rediscovered, especially by the younger generation.
Sebastian Guhr, born in 1983, who studied philosophy, American studies and literature, published the novel “Mr. Lincoln & Mr. Thoreau ”, where he describes the conflicts between nature and society, but also the mastery of crises and the meaning of social and political engagement:“ Humanity comes from a garden, but at one point a market has replaced the garden. . “Then people became greedy and discovered the power of their elbows.” The focus is on two opposing characters: one believes in laws as a lawyer and politician and embodies order and reason, the other believes in freedom instead of laws and stands for feeling and “Wild Thought”: More than a thousand miles away, in east coast, Thoreau strives to live as independently as possible. “He takes care of his life, his health and his mental health. “Yes, he wants to create a healthy environment for his reflection.” When the IRS puts him in jail for one night, he writes an important essay on the task of disobedience to the state, which Abraham Lincoln reads and which Lincoln cannot accept. He leaves to meet Thoreau. Although Sebastian Guhr builds a literary fiction, it also makes us aware of our particular reality: technology and nature, thinking and doing, reason and emotion. The original sources served as the stepping stone for the author – and when he had to make a decision, he preferred the literary solution to the historically correct one.
The theme continues today in the context of leadership and management – especially in the debate about the unholy alliance between turbo capitalism, digitalisation, the mania of growth (sustainability) and the importance of inner feelings. “We need to overcome the dualism between nature and technology, and not just think in binary terms, no longer just in units and zeros, but as in nature, allow and value everything in between,” says the edited human volume. . resource expert and entrepreneur Werner Neumüller. People who once followed the natural rhythm of nature are now often required to function like a computer machine. Therefore, all contributors to the book criticize “pure minds” who use nature to express, elevate, or transcend themselves. “Nature apparently initially developed the feeling of the intestines with very concrete purposes. She wanted people to be able to make relatively accurate decisions very quickly and even in unfavorable conditions. But this (survival) instinct rarely plays a role in most decision-making processes in the company “, writes the investor and startup expert Alexander Stoeckel, for whom intuition is something that can be learned when feeling and reason are in harmony.
All approaches from fiction and reality have one thing in common: they are committed to rethinking holistically about the future and making it worth living, reconciling people to nature. Meditation can also help you observe your thoughts or “go out” for a short time to give space to your inner voice. Most people find silence in nature – but it is important that they are truly present and meet it with good energy.
- Henry David Thoreau as an icon of environmental activist
- Minimalism: Is it the only obstacle today to give up?
- Heike Derwanz (ed.): Minimalism. A reader. transcript publisher. Bielefeld 2022.
- Sebastian Guhr: Mr. Lincoln & Mr. Thoreau. Novel. Marix Verlag, Wiesbaden 2021.
- Thoreau, Henry David Walden, or Life in the Forest . Cologne 2009.
- Henry David Thoreau. Stroller in the woods and rebel. Biography of Frank Schaefer. Suhrkamp, Berlin 2017.
- Intestinal sensation in management. The role of intuition in business, society and sports. Edited by Alexandra Hildebrandt and Werner Neumüller. Springer Gabler Verlag 2021.