In his quest to be anti-materialistic, Josh has just 75 possessions. If you had to limit the things you own to 75 items, what would they be?
After much consideration of this issue (it is something I have been thinking about since I first read the book several years ago now) I have come to several conclusions.
a. It is obvious that he is a teenager, in more than one way, but specifically linked to this point is the fact that he has none of the trappings of independent adult life such as a house and it’s inherent objects i.e. crockery, furniture, cutlery etc. As an adult this could only be achieved as 75 personal things. Having said that, I rent my place so technically I don’t have any of those trappings, the kitchen stuff is for the most part, part of the rent or my housemates, the furniture I physically own consists of; a desk, two bookshelves and a CD rack (the latter of which I am currently hoping to rid myself of in the near future – see part c for the explanation). Therefore the items of furniture in my flat that I use but don’t actually own, do they then count?
b. I have 3 keys to my house… 3! I rent my place and they are the keys I got, if I want to get into my house… hell if I want to get into the yard and into the building, never mind the actual flat where I live, I have to use all three keys. Plus I have a key for my mothers and one for my best friend as a backup and because sometimes I feed her cats. That’s 5 out of the 75 in keys alone! It’s a farce. Or do I just say #x (arbitrary number) keys? Thank goodness I gave Gran’s key back for the time being!
c. I completely agree with the basis of his theory/manifesto, that we, as a culture/society, are materialistic to the extreme. We are too fixated on ‘stuff’ and ownership. This is only perpetuated by marketing, big business and advertising both in the print and visual media, aimed at the masses for the benefit of the few (those creating the adverts). However, as I mentioned in point a) I think that Josh/Larry is overly idealistic, not a bad thing in and of itself of course, but like Communism and Socialism I’m not certain his self-prescribed limit is entirely plausible in practice. Sad and frustrating but possibly true.
However, I refuse to be defeated, every time I read the novel or even think about it, I am moved towards an immediate need to divest myself of ‘stuff’, of my material possessions. For example; I am making great efforts to digitise my entire CD collection so as to be able to then get rid of the physical collection as an unnecessary dust collector, especially since I listen to the physical CD’s so infrequently. By putting their tracks onto ‘Dax’ and having backup copies on ‘Lenara’ I am eliminating the imagined need for the actual items. Off to Oxfam they can go then.
I am always going through that which I own in order to expunge any unwanted or unneeded items. I try very hard to be anti-materialistic, I am anti-consumerist (I avoid adverts by not having television etc, these things have been covered here before, no reason to rehash these things). However, I have one downfall, and it’s a biggy I admit. Books. They are the one type of ‘thing’ I find it hard to strip myself of. Even though I am a huge proponent of libraries (I am definitely a frequent flyer as far as they are concerned and am a member of 5 in total, across the country) and I do use readitswapit.com and trade a lot of my books, but that still means I am replacing them, or rotating them if that’s what you want to call it. I’m a self confessed reading addict, plain and simple.
So, 75 items, personal things, given that I am doing the whole independent adult living thing, unlike Josh.
In this first instance I’m not certain if I am counting books, because a) this is a thought exercise, b) how the heck would I choose and c) half my list would be books, which might defeat the object slightly, and make it so that I can’t go out in public due to lack of clothing or some such.
It’s difficult thinking of this one in summer also, trying to work out what you are actually going to require during the colder months and things like that.
Also, do things like shower gel etc count or not? In this instance I have counted them but I’m not sure whether they could technically be classed as a ‘possession’ or not?
9) Shirt (button down)
30) Swimming costume
38) Shower gel
46) External drive
47) Lava lamp
48) Fairy lights
49) Rabbit (toy)
53) Markers pens
55) Barnsley library card
56) Leeds library card
57) Work library card
58) Bank card
61) Bang (game)
62) Cat statue (mini Bast)
63) Photo album
64) Fried Green Tomatoes (film)
65) Little Women (book)
66) Strangers in Paradise (comic series)
67) Firefly (series)
68) Thief of Time (Pratchett)
69) Boy meets Boy (Levithan)
70) To kill a Mockingbird (Lee)
71) Rent (film)
Oddly, when I come to actually thinking about it, I’m hard pushed to think of 75 possessions I deem necessary or what have you it took a lot longer than anticipated that’s for sure, 72 is as much as I got and some of the ones at the end of the list I am not so sure about. In the end I put books and films on there after all, pretty much choosing my classics.
I find it intriguing that barring one item they all would pretty much fit in a backpack (pretty much anyway). Also the list is probably rather dependant upon my mood, if I did this in a year or two would the answer be the same or even similar?