Emily and I have gone through many, many parallel obsessions. We share a love for legitimate LES punks, comfortable "fat american" clothing, conceptual art, efficient alarm clocks, smoking newports (well i'm a baby and can't really), moccasin boots, kate moss, ebay, driving around, inadvertently funny rap lyrics, body modification, bauhaus, doodling, and sweetie boys. However, nothing compares to the overwhelming drive for minimalism we have been consumed with over the past year and a half.
Someone once said that "minimalism is at constant war with real life;" maybe that's why I like it. It's an impulse born out of anxiety disorders, and on a superficial level creates an environment free from stress. There is a definite high resulting when an OCD or otherwise psychologically warped person is in the thick of an activity directly relating to their problem, and throwing everything you own out is pretty fucking good.
Emily told me that when she was in the first, admittedly violent throes of this spartan phase, her dad asked her if her bare room indicated that she was moving out. I don't like orchestrated minimalism, where there is one flower laid on a steel table, surrounded by mies van der rohe chairs or some phillipe starck shit. I like the kind of minimalism where everything is beat up, worn in, well loved, and with a great history behind it. The combination of old elements and the echoes of a near empty room reminds me of traveling or moving to a new house - change being something that terrifies me, it seems healthy to live with its trappings on a daily basis. Minimalism has also helped me overcome one of the more obvious expressions of my obsessive compulsive disorder, that being my unstoppable pack-rattiness. From the time I was a kid, I saved everything. Almost literally. Throwing things out that I only thought I needed has proved to be incredibly therapeutic.
Orchestrated minimalism, the kind you see in the apartments of Karl Lagerfeld et. al., also distinctly smacks of consumerism to me. It is the tasteful kind - better, i guess, than tacky nouveau riche stuff, but not by much. What is usually the case is that a maid comes in daily to keep the place looking for spotless. For me, the look is less important than the physical lack of things (oxymoron?). When your possessions are few and special, anything you throw together will be beautiful, as opposed to someone who collects crazy knicknacks and just sticks them all over the place with no personal connection whatsoever.
I guess this is why going to new houses always frieks me out. I can't deal with the Lladro angels, fake French toulouse lautrec posters and patisserie signs, ironwork purchased at Home Depot, plastic plants - stuff designed to look intimate and wonderful (and whose origins are definitely so) but that is actually cold, fake, mass-produced, and terrifying. The echo of tiles and space in McMansions doesn't signify transition to me, but rather an emptiness that may never be filled.
But yeah, I hate mindlessness anywhere, and i'm sure it exists in NYC, london, tokyo, africa, the south, Latin America, and everywhere.