Marie Kondo and other decluttering gurus promise that shedding our stuff will solve our problems. We commit to cleanse diets and strive for inbox zero. But minimalism has richer, deeper, and altogether more valuable gifts to offer.
... those two kinds of minimalism — sleek lifestyle branding and enforced austerity — don’t quite convey the enormousness of the subject Chayka explores in this slender book ... The book itself is like an exercise in decluttering, as Chayka cycles through different ideas in order to find those he wants to keep ... generates more questions than it answers — which is only appropriate, considering that the 'deeper minimalism' Chayka pursues is more about vulnerability than control ... Reading Chayka’s book put me in mind of a longing for less stuff, and a longing for more support.
...a new book by the journalist and critic Kyle Chayka, arrives not as an addition to the minimalist canon but as a corrective to it ... Along the way, he offers sharp critiques of thing-oriented minimalism. The sleek, simple devices produced by Apple, which encourage us to seamlessly glide through the day by tapping and swiping on pocket-size screens, rely on a hidden 'maximalist assemblage' ... His dual response to the all-white apartment is one of the only moments in The Longing for Less when Chayka acknowledges his attraction to superficial minimalism, but that attraction pulses throughout the book. The writing has a careful tastefulness ... In a way, Chayka’s book replicates the conflict he’s attempting to uncover—between the security and cleanliness of a frictionless affect and the necessity of friction for uncovering truth. He does have moments of productive discomfort ... Chayka best conveys the unnerving existential confrontation that minimalism can create in his capsule biographies ... This is, in the end, the most convincing argument for minimalism: with less noise in our heads, we might hear the emergency sirens more clearly.
Chayka suspects, astutely, that minimalism can be used not just to make complex experiences simpler, but the other way around ... Chayka’s odyssey through the modern minimalist tradition is worthy of a stand-alone text. His study of the 'blank spaces' explored by the painter Agnes Martin, the architect Philip Johnson, the composer Julius Eastman, and many others is an exercise in grace and fidelity ... Thanks to Chayka, cultural opportunists will not have the last word.