Everett Bogue is well known as one of the popularizers of the minimalist movement, who from 2009 to 2010 showed thousands of people how to be happy by living with less. Then a few months ago his posts took a new turn, discussing the evolution of technology. Two main themes recurred in his writing: the idea that you can build a second self online, and that tools like Twitter are all you need to gain cyborg-like superpowers from technology.
I couldn’t decide whether Everett is crazy or a genius, so I asked him for an interview. He said no. So I gave the worst sales pitch possible. “I mean a different kind of interview,” I told him. “I’m talking tough questions. I’m not going to go easy on you.”
That actually seemed to perk Everett up—minutes later we had it scheduled. I’m openly skeptical of Everett’s ideas, and this is the first interview he’s done with an open skeptic since the launch of his new site.
The whole interview is a bit long for one post, so I’ve broken it in two. The first part focuses on why Everett left minimalism for cybernetics and why he chose to tear down his old work. Tomorrow, I’ll follow up with Part II which will focus on the more, er, cyborgy stuff.
Without further ado, the interview!
Drew: In The Art of Being Minimalist you talk about the value of destroying your life’s work and starting over. You now say you’re past minimalism, but you’ve taken down your blog and books and started over. Isn’t that the same thing?
Everett: There’s been a good deal of confusion about why I stopped writing about minimalism. I’ll do my best to make this response as simple as possible: I think that minimalism (the movement) was a phase in the evolutionary trajectory of technology. We were becoming augmented humanity — but we weren’t close enough to realizing that we’d started to merge with the machine.
The decision to destroy my work is an experiment in second self design. I want to see if success in the Net stems from a collected body of work, or if it dwells in the spaces in-between all of the data.
It’s too early to tell, but so far the trajectory of the support for my work has continued onward and upward, regardless of cleaning out the closet.
I believe that in order to evolve faster (which is my personal goal) we need to stay mindful of what how much data our second self maintains. Far Beyond The Stars was an amazing experience while it lasted, but my work made an evolutionary leap in November 2010 that made it hard to recognize the person who wrote there in the mirror.
You once talked about how minimalism made you calmer, and you wrote in a very calm, soft-spoken style. Your recent posts crackle with zeal and seem very swept up in your new ideas. Have you lost that calmness?
I get excited by my work. Re-hashing the old work was easy, and hence the ability to stay very grounded and centered in it. Now that I’m involved in the development of dimensional language, learning advanced cybernetics, and evolving our understanding of just how human the machine is becoming, I can’t restrain my enthusiasm sometimes. I jump out of bed at 5 a.m. to start writing.
I’m constantly reminding myself to take the time to meditate on the ideas and practice on the mat, it’s the only way to stay centered in the chaos at the edge of human evolution.
Throughout your earlier work you talked about how minimalism has changed and improved your life. You’ve told your readers that minimalism will make their lives better, and thousands of people have taken you up on it. Now you’re saying minimalism was not what you were after. Do you worry that you’re letting people down?
When you’re standing at the crest of a valley, looking down at the town below, you only see what you see. You settle down, and think that this is all there is to life. Minimalism! Great! Then one day you get bored and climb up the other side of the valley, peer over the edge, and realize there’s a whole frakking city on a beautiful beach filled with tan Brazilian models on the other side. Maybe you should have explored more before declaring minimalism the end all be all of humanity.
Minimalism, as as movement, is an evolutionary step towards augmented humanity. When you develop skill in mental cybernetics, you stop recognizing your stuff. Freedom becomes living with the technology that taps you into The Cloud.
You also have to take yourself back a year ago, people were calling me nuts for writing about minimalism (who would ever do that?!). Heh. This is has all happened before, it will all happen again.
In Minimalist Business you say that every minimalist business needs a blog, and that newsletters aren’t as good. But you’ve switched to a newsletter-only format. Why?
Letter.ly isn’t a newsletter, in the sense that I described in Minimalist Business. A newsletter is one of those things you see on marketing blogs about how to market blogs about marketing, which promise you free everything if you’d only opt-in to receive emails selling you things.
Letter.ly is layered access. When I started writing about advanced mental cybernetics on my blog, I had grandmothers who weren’t on Twitter stumbling across the content. They got very confused, and for some, it burned their brains in a very bad way—ripping them through the space/time continuum.
In order to fix that situation, I had to make the decision to only bring the hi-def data transmissions to people with a commitment to actually learn and understand the material.
You have to decide to go into business school before they let you in, and then you have to finish the education. While what I’m doing isn’t college, you’re not going to understand advanced economics until you’ve taken the 101.
In The Story of Minimalist Freedom Success you show us the first glimpse of your new ideas – you talk about researching the evolution of technology as a project you took on to help get out of a slump. What made you choose that topic?
After writing Minimalist Business, I fell into what I like to call “The Void.” I’d become super-successful online, but there was something missing. I wasn’t being challenged anymore. When I’m not challenged, I start by immediately getting self-destructive.
So, I began practicing Yoga every single day in order to clear my mind and focus on what was important. As my practice deepened, so did my understanding of the deeper implications of the evolution of the Net. This led me to the current research, and eventually blew my mind wide open as to where we’re going with all of this.
I didn’t choose the topic, instead it chose me.
You speak very bluntly about how you earn your income, which is through your online presence. To a lot of people, deleting Far Beyond the Stars and talking about cyborgs seems like hype. How do potential customers know if this is legit? With something this fringe, how can they know if it’s worth their time?
Deleting Far Beyond the Stars isn’t hype, if I wanted hype I wouldn’t change my blog address. I’d write a post called “27 Simple Ways to Earn 10k in Passive Income a Month”, which is what all of the smartest marketers know very well is what everyone on the Internet will pay for—because they buy get rich quick e-books like lemmings.
There are no get-rich-quick options on the Net. What is an option is aligning your second self with your own true nature.
I can’t tell you if Augmented Humanity is worth your time, I also can’t tell you if my Letter.ly is worth the time. I’m not trying to sell anyone on these ideas, I’m simply putting them out there to support the experience of those who are evolving faster.
Everett’s new book Augmented Humanity: Second Selves, Mental Cybernetics and the Future of You can be found on ebookling. Stay tuned for Part II of the interview tomorrow when we talk about cyborgs, cybernetics, and his definition of mental superpowers!
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