Maximalism in an impermanent world: A hoarder’s guide to Berkeley

minimalism_michealdrummond_file
Michael Drummond/File

Impermanence, also known as “anica” in Buddhism, has been the greatest enemy to the modern human mind since its development 40,000 years ago. All of our accolades, creations, relationships and experiences are doomed to succumb to the entropy of the universe. Because of this, human beings may spend their whole lives trying to find life experiences not dissimilar to dramamine to quell the nausea that builds from the relentless carousel of their own subjective reality.

In fact, the prospect of impermanence can be so daunting for some individuals that many just give up and give in to the inevitability of it. They will opt to evade the emotional risks incurred by life by preemptively stepping away from it and instead nurse the horrible disillusionment that arises among all sojourners of this world. Some of these said individuals will never formulate lasting, meaningful bonds with others, terrified of the risks that are entailed. Others will engage in a pastime that has fondly been given the moniker of “minimalism.”

The advocates of minimalism (or “minimalists”) will try to get through life using as few amenities as possible and will throw away all objects that they have determined to be gratuitous within their homes, utterly unhinged by their presence.

Whether it’s an extra shirt or an old desk, these inanimate objects ominously lying in their homes will manifest into mirrors of their own mortality if left in their homes for too long and must be dealt with immediately to mute the ornamentation of modern, First World living. This routine, a ritualistic itinerary of escape from their own species’ futile efforts to collect, transcends the abject tales of capitalism and could be seen practiced in the realm of sound and relationships.

Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect, believes in industrial design that helps dull out the noises of urban life within conference halls and rooms.

Others, such as my currently unreachable dad, view relationships as a way to compartmentalize all of your emotional needs by abandoning people you deem useless and bring no value to your life.

Nevertheless, for those of us who are more equipped to meaninglessly plod through the decaying infrastructure of our own subjective reality by collecting and protecting all of the amenities in our lives, no matter how useless — like many Buddhists would say — we are right where we should be.

For those with the mental fortitude to partake in this great exercise of futility, Berkeley is a great battleground to fight against the horrors of impermanence. If you look hard enough, you will find that Berkeley is burgeoning with programs, nonprofit organizations, local businesses and even abandoned accessories left in the streets for you to pillage and armour yourself against the imperialism of the greatest enemy of all: time.

Detractors of this expression in defiance against time, against the notion of aimlessly collecting everything you can collect until you drop dead, might dismiss the activity as nothing more than a hoarder’s game. However, I myself would simply refer to it as “maximalism.”

Though it perhaps is a game — a classic game of fourth-dimensional Monopoly between you and time. And if you would like to embark on this game, I would highly recommend that you heed to my advice that you continue reading this important piece to find all the best places in Berkeley to provide you everything you need to defeat a concept that has hitherto been undefeated. Good luck.

1) ReUSE

ReUSE, a nonprofit, student-run thrift store, has locations all over the UC Berkeley campus. According to an email from Student Environmental Resource Center director Katherine Walsh, ReUse hands out student necessities, including charging cables for phones and laptops. ReUSE will sell anything and everything else that has been donated for $3 or less. Walsh said ReUSE also gives away readers to students every Calapalooza.

2) Urban Ore

One of the largest thrift stores in the Bay Area and an active member of recycling politics, Urban Ore, located on Murray Street, vicariously lives through the tagline printed on all of their receipts: “To End the Age of Waste.” According to the University of Oregon’s Ph.D. Alumni Listing website for its sociology department, Urban Ore founder Dan Knapp has a doctorate in sociology. Urban Ore offers a wide range of cheap life amenities, including clothes, electronics, windows, bikes, building materials and a large library.

3) Thrift stores

Whether it’s the Goodwill on University Avenue, the Buffalo Exchange on Telegraph Avenue or the Crossroads Trading Co. on Shattuck Avenue — a relatively higher-end used clothing store — you could explore the eccentric wardrobe of the Berkeley community at almost any corner within the salubrious confines of this fashion mecca. There’s even a thrift store called Out of the Closet further down University Avenue that offers free HIV testing and gives 96 percent of its proceeds to HIV/AIDS programs, according to its website.

4) Berkeley Public Library

Sick of reading? Does each subsequent word in this piece make … you … want … to … grab a hammer? Good. Because the Berkeley Public Library offers something more than insight into the minds of old or dead philosophers. You need to check out the Tool Lending Library, where you can rent out any range of construction devices that you may need to build together all of these great amenities that you’ve procured across the great Berkeley expanse to assist you in building the monolithic fortress of random shit to keep out your greatest enemy — impermanence.

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  • JDJ

    “Maximalism”… Genius… Thanks for providing a moniker I can use to describe my reality. You are now my favorite Martin.