Lesson: MINIMALISM (in progress)

Part 4.

a. The previous text made mention of a book by Marie Kondo. What do you know about Marie Kondo?

A picture of Marie Kondo giving a talk at a conference
Photo by WebSummit, via Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)

b. If you need to find out more about Marie Kondo, read this explainer text.

Of all the influencers and lifestyle gurus of the social media age, how many have managed to get their name into the English language as a verb?

One individual who has attained this mark of iconic status is the Japanese author and tidying coach Marie Kondo, otherwise known as KonMari: numerous webpages now offer advice on “How to Marie Kondo your wardrobe in an hour“, “How to KonMari your health“, and even the intriguing “I Marie Kondo’d my love life“.

Kondo evidently touched a cultural nerve worldwide with her bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (first published 2011; English translation 2014). In an era saturated with shiny things to grab and capture our attention – endless entertainment, limitless shopping, a constant stream of notifications from apps – the simplicity and optimism of Kondo’s message was appealing: “clear away clutter so you can live the life you want“.

Perhaps the most famous piece of advice in the book is to keep only items that “spark joy” – this joy is defined as “a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising.” All other belongings should be “discarded, with gratitude”: given away to someone who will find joy in owning them.

Since the first, iconic, book, Kondo has gone on to write several more, as well as presenting a Netflix series devoted to tidying and training an army of tidiness consultants.

Especially controversially, Kondo now sells household items via her site, leading to insinuations that the KonMari empire now contributes to clutter and waste, far from helping to reduce it. However, Kondo insists that she is not, in fact, a minimalist: the main focus – whether KonMariing your home, life or relationships – should be less on discarding unwanted items and more on holding on to those you love.

c. Respond

Think of 3 questions to ask classmates, based on the text you’ve just read. These should be questions to help you find out something about your classmates and their opinions, not factual questions about the text.

For example, the following question is suitable for this task:

  • Do you have any belongings that spark joy in your life?

The question below isn’t what we’re looking for in this task:

  • When was Marie Kondo’s book first published?

-More on Part 4-

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