What Can Minimalism Do For Us? ❧ Current Affairs
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What Can Minimalism Do For Us? ❧ Current Affairs

Jun 25, 2023

Kyle Chayka is a cultural critic and staff writer for the New Yorker. Kyle’s book The Longing For Less: Living With Minimalism, is a delightful, profound exploration of the idea of “minimalism.” Beginning with the Marie Kondo phenomenon, Kyle tours world history and culture to discuss everything from Thoreau’s cabin to John Cage’s music to Japanese rock gardens to the sculptures of Donald Judd.

Today Kyle joins to talk about why there have been periodic movements stressing the importance of having “less.” We talk about how contemporary Instagrammable minimalism can actually be quite expensive. We ask whether Jesus was a minimalist. We probe the mystery of why Agnes Martin’s minimalist paintings are so mesmerizing. Nathan is on the record as being a proud “maximalist” who loves ornamentation and chaos (he has even written an article called “Death To Minimalism“) while Kyle is sympathetic to the minimalist instinct, even if he highlights some of its more absurd manifestations (such as the glass walls in the Apple headquarters that were so “minimalist” you couldn’t see them, leading employees to constantly bonk their faces on them).

But the important questions are: what leads us to want to reject the very things that supposedly make our consumer society so “abundant” and fulfilling? What’s behind the Thoreau-like instinct to chuck it all away and do without luxury or adornment? Is the minimalist instinct the right response to a civilization of wasteful excess? If it is, however, how do we determine what is “enough”?

We’re here today to talk about minimalism. One of the blurbs on your book says, “Kyle Chayka, in the longing for less, peels back the commodified husk of minimalism to reveal something surprising and thoroughly alive.” Before we get to the thing you reveal that is “surprising and thoroughly alive,” let’s discuss the commodified husk. What are they referring to there?

I think the commodified husk at the time that I wrote the book, which was circa 2018-2019, was the specter of Marie Kondo. I was definitely responding to that moment of her total media saturation, which included the Netflix show and the books that were everywhere. This is also peak Instagram era aesthetics. Minimalism was everywhere. And then, from the Marie Kondo perspective, it meant cleaning out your house and getting rid of all of your stuff.

I never saw her show, so I saw the moment and didn’t like the sound of her project to the extent that I understood it. She had some things to say about books, and not keeping too many. I, as a person who is surrounded—

Getting rid of books—you could have 40 books.


I think it was 40. That’s what I remember. It could have been less. But, I probably have 300 books around here.

I’m surrounded by books to the point that they’re a safety hazard. There are towers of unstable books all over the Current Affairs offices. I always wondered, though, whether I resented her (to the extent I understood her) for reasons that were rational, or whether what I didn’t like was that she was pointing out something that was true. What did you feel?

I think she hit a nerve. The books wouldn’t have sold so much, and she wouldn’t have been so popular, if there wasn’t some element of truth to what she was saying. By all of her press coverage accounts, she was way more popular in the United States than she was in Japan. So, there was this image of a very austere Japanese woman coming from this cliché East Asian spirituality background telling you that you didn’t need all the consumerist crap in your house. There’s something deeply appealing about that and almost archetypal. I think Americans at that moment were coming out of this phase of peak internet consumption; everything felt new online at that time, circa 2016-2019. Direct to consumer products and Instagram advertising were everywhere, you could suddenly buy anything you wanted to buy online, and I think that caused a hangover after a few years. Everyone just suddenly realized they were addicted to getting stuff on Amazon, and then looked around and saw their full apartments and houses and wondered what the fuck they’re doing and what to do with all this stuff.

Why wasn’t she popular in Japan?

I think because there was an overflow; that market was already served in Japan. She was a professional cleaner and was trained in a particular kind of cleaning in Japan already. There was already this wider class of people in a genre of books about tidying up, and so she wasn’t as unique in that space.

To the extent the minimalism of the period that you are discussing here, is it just a general belief that we order too many things on Amazon and should be a little more thoughtful about what we buy, why we’re buying it, and whether it’s bringing us any joy, or was there something more to it, like an aesthetic of its own or a certain prescribed lifestyle? Tell us more about what this was and is.

I think it was this kind of movement or lifestyle idea. It did go far beyond Marie Kondo. There are a bunch of American bloggers as well who are talking about minimalism, living with less, and getting out of the consumerist mindset. That kind of lifestyle minimalism emerged and bled into the aesthetic of minimalism that had also become more popular, a kind of aesthetic of minimalism. The artistic heritage of it stretches back to the 1960s, which we can talk about, but I think in the 2010s it was a native aesthetic to the multimedia heavy internet, where everything on Instagram looked very austere and minimalist. Clothing design from the generic Everlane and Uniqlo brands was very minimalist. Sneakers, makeup, and furniture were minimalist. It was just the trendy digital idiom of that time. I think plenty of people were attracted by that for quite a while, but then also started to become repelled by it by the late 2010s.

I have very mixed feelings about it because on the one hand, I consider myself something of the embodiment of a maximalist. You can’t see here, but I am surrounded by what can only be described as tchotchkes from every part of my life: little old postcards, toys, artifacts, flags, old advertisements, books, and magazines. And yet, for all of my maximalism, there is that anti-consumerist and even pro-ecological in the sense that we consume too much—it’s unsustainable and destroying the planet—that I sympathize with. Help me work through how I should feel about this.

Yes, it’s a weird paradox. The most ironic thing that I found about the “20/20 rule” minimalism was this idea that you could buy new products that were minimalist, and thus you would feel better about yourself—you could buy the minimalist lamp or t-shirt that you would only need one of. This is added consumption that gives you the veneer of somehow consuming less, probably through the aesthetic. So, when I think about tchotchkes, kitsch, antiques, and stuff like that, it’s all stuff that already exists—it’s material and physical objects that have been circulating through humanity for years or decades and building up a kind of patina that’s not really minimalist, but has a history and a presence. It’s not adding to the environmental damage that manufacturing a new t-shirt or ephemeral furniture will cause, so I do feel it’s ironic that minimalism gives the aesthetic of consuming less, but you’re actually consuming more new stuff.

Thank you, you’ve exonerated me here because I would claim that I have caused fewer new things to be brought into the world and use fewer resources due to my consumption of vintage and old shit, than some of these minimalists.

I always think of the architecture fact that demolishing a building causes more environmental damage than rehabbing the building that already exists. There’s less damaging consequences in keeping what’s already around you rather than buying new stuff, no matter how minimalist it is.

Yes. Every time I go back to my hometown of Sarasota, Florida, another 1920s Florida House—I love these old houses—has been flattened, and a giant white cube has emerged in its place, which is the fashion now. If you go into these houses, people have polished concrete floors and very little furniture. But, there was already a house there!

I have a lot of sympathy for the minimalist aesthetic. I love it. It’s my taste to begin with. But the cement floors are just beyond the pale for me. It’s uncomfortable, so austere, and just seems completely absurd. That’s totally the modern minimalism versus what it might have meant decades ago. The generic glass box that’s pre-made and plopped onto anywhere in the United States is cliché now. It’s not minimalist at all, really.

Minimalism is not really one thing, so I want to be careful about making general statements, but I feel there’s a belief that form follows function. Minimalism is about stripping something down—what is needed in order for it to function—but sometimes it’s an illusion. I think of the bathroom that I had in my previous apartment, which was a very minimalist and pure white. First, the white got dirty very fast, but second, the beautiful shower had just one glass pane, no door, and made a mess. You minimize so much that you minimize the door away, and it turned out you needed the door on that shower.

It looks beautiful, but doesn’t fulfill the function that it’s supposed to. That’s breaking form follows function—the function does not exist. It’s all about that beautiful form of the single glass pane, and it’s actually not efficient or functionalist in the slightest.

You cite in your book the very amusing fact that when Apple built its new headquarters, they put in walls of glass that were so beautifully transparent that everyone bonked into them.

Yes, and I think they had to put sticky notes on them so people didn’t run into the glass walls. That was just pure aesthetic over architectural function. This kind of vocabulary comes from modernist architecture, like Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe. When you look back at their buildings from the 1940s, 1950s, or 1960s, they aren’t as extreme as what we see now. They aren’t full of glass walls, and the bathrooms don’t look like your minimalist bathroom does. They did have a functionalist purpose in mind originally, but it’s just become, over time, this hyper aestheticized style that people consume rather than thinking about the meaning or function behind things.

Didn’t Le Corbusier did want to flatten half of Paris and put up these beautiful, simple towers?

That’s true—the “Towers in the Park” urbanism theory. It did not work out so well, I would say, but I do think his other great quote, “The house is a machine for living,” has certainly turned out to be true and what people look for now. They’re just not very good machines, like your minimalist bathroom.

I don’t like that “machine for living” stuff. I want my house to be a cozy glove I can slide into. I want a cocoon. What we’re touching on right now is the idea that some minimalism can be an illusion. You mentioned Apple products and that they make these beautiful, simplified designs, but that minimalism can hide the messy infrastructure that is necessary to make a lot of these consumer goods possible.

Yes, like the fact that Apple devices become infinitely flattened, thin, and wide over time. The glass phone looks like nothing, and yet, you can’t use it without all the infrastructure behind it. Your device may look minimalist, but the whole mass of undersea cables, server farms, aluminum mines, and factories is not minimalist at all. That’s all the infrastructure and mess that supports the illusion of your perfectly minimalist phone. I think we don’t think about that stuff enough because the design discourages us from thinking about it. We don’t think about the fact that there’s a battery in the phone because we can’t replace it and don’t interact with it. It’s just this pristine block of steel and glass.

It’s ironic. As I understand it, some of the tendencies and big demands in 20th century architecture was that architecture, at least, should get more honest and expose its innards. There’s the Pompidou Center, where you can see what the building is because we don’t want to lie to people.

Part of minimalism and the artistic movement in the 1960s and 1970s was to actually expose the bare material of a thing. So, whether that was an architectural form or a steel box that Donald Judd made, it was about getting down to the actual material of a thing and confronting the rawness of it in a very brutal way. Whereas the iPhone, I think, doesn’t do that; it doesn’t confront you with its materiality. Instead, it just helps you disappear into the digital world.

There are some ways in which, by this desire to strip everything down to its essentials, we may lose sight of some things. We think we’re getting down to the essentials, but we’re actually taking away things that gave us pleasure and delights, and we didn’t realize it. I think of GeoCities websites and blogs versus Substack. Substack is very minimalist compared to old web design, which was messy, cluttered, and ugly. Substack is sleek and beautiful, but it loses a certain kind of element of personality. It homogenizes.

It totally homogenizes everyone’s internet presence—this is a subject of my next book. So many of the digital platforms we use are very minimalist—they follow this modernist idea of empty white space and perfect geometric design, and they force everyone into using those same templates. Substack follows Medium, which was designed to be the perfect writing tool on the internet, and now everyone’s blog looks the same. You can choose which color you want, and maybe choose a few different fonts, but on GeoCities, you could stick a random GIF of a construction worker working on an “in progress” sign—wherever you wanted. You could build weird frames and add and subtract pages. In some ways, I feel like the Internet has become less messy and personally creative. Even in 2011-2012 with Tumblr, it felt like it was more of a personal form of expression and was customizable. You designed your page to evoke your own personality and tastes, and now we just have a series of homogenous templates that we’re forced into.

One of my problems with contemporary architecture has always been the loss of the filigree and the ornament, the stuff I love that’s whimsical and totally unnecessary. People have pointed out that there are many areas in which aesthetics might have become slightly more boring over time. I don’t know if this is an illusion, but I’ve seen diagrams showing the convergence of car design, showing that all cars have started to look the same. I do worry there’s a homogenizing effect where everything has become clean and antiseptic, and reached a perfect state of nothingness. Where do you go from there?

Yes, it was asymptotically moving toward nothing for quite a few years in the 2010s, particularly. You can see that with cars, which were more homogenous and the same few colors were more popular. You can see it with fashion brand logos, which all became generic sans serif with plain black text on white background. You could see it with clothing, this kind of semi-preppy minimalist blankness, and everything was converging and coming together to a single theoretically perfect point of taste. But then, all of a sudden, it became insanely boring. I think taste is a pendulum swinging back and forth, and when we reach one extreme, we automatically want to go to the total opposite. We craved noise, chaos, difference, and diversity. The pandemic was coincidental timing, perhaps, but it definitely catalyzed everyone feeling very bored and over this minimalist aesthetic and the sameness because suddenly things were the same every day, for everyone, and so no one wanted more of that.

Do you sense that there is a general shift in the zeitgeist since you began this book?

Yes, I think so. There are a bunch of articles already about Gen Z maximalism and how the next generation prefers much more decor, filigree, chaos, and visual engagement. But, is that because of TikTok? Is our Instagram minimalism just becoming their TikTok maximalism, and everything needs to move, ooze, and stretch, and be blobby and weird? My theory has been that digital platforms caused homogenization; everyone being on the same Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter homogenizes so many things. And so, I think the homogeneity might stay the same even if the style is changing. We moved from generic Instagram minimalism to generic TikTok boozy bright color maximalism.

I’ve wanted to put a word to you and ask you how it relates and plugs in to your thinking about minimalism, and that word is “utilitarian”. Do you think minimalism tends to be utilitarian?

I think so. It depends on what aspect you’re looking at, I’d say. It makes me think of Donald Judd’s furniture. Judd was the classic minimalist artist in the 1960s in New York. When he moved to Marfa, Texas, he started making his own furniture from these very plain, pre-cut chunks of wood: the most severely geometric chairs and tables. In one way, they’re very utilitarian in that they are simple to make; it’s a simple design, and they fulfill their function perfectly. It’s a chair, it’s a table, but they’re horrifically uncomfortable. Sure, you can sit in it. It’s a 90 degree plywood chair, but you might not want to sit on it for too long. It’s not fulfilling the function of comfort, but it is fulfilling the function of a thing to sit on.

His chairs sound a little bit like my shower, which is pseudo-utilitarian: it looks like you’ve boiled it down to its function, but you’ve forgotten what the actual thing is for.

Yes, pseudo-utilitarian, I think, is a great way to describe the consequences of this minimalist aesthetic: things that look like they should fulfill their function, but actually don’t.

I feel like I have taken you in a direction so far that emphasizes criticism of various aspects of the minimalist aesthetic and the ways in which it can be fraudulent. I will say, however, that your book is very much not the case against minimalism. In fact, reading it, I developed an appreciation for some things that I didn’t appreciate going into it, like rock gardens and the paintings of Agnes Martin. You realize that there are many ways in which this simplifying instinct can take us towards an appreciation of things that we would overlook if they were just cluttered together with other things.

That’s very nice. The point of the book was to draw people away from this aesthetic of minimalism, and hopefully bring us back to some of these artistic principles. I think the fundamental principle of minimalist art was that you can find beauty in any sensory perception, especially if you focus on it enough and allow yourself to perceive something. So, an Agnes Martin painting that’s just a grid of painted lines confronts you with your own ability to perceive things, even though it’s so simple and there’s not that much to perceive. It’s a very fundamental idea that Agnes Martin is putting in front of you, or similarly, like a John Cage musical composition. The classic 4′33″ is John Cage saying that the piano doesn’t have to create the music, the sound that you can enjoy is all around you. You should focus on perceiving whatever there is to perceive, and you don’t need the artist to make something dramatically beautiful and perfect for you. You can just perceive what you perceive, and that’s great. So, in that way, I think it’s a very democratic or accessible idea of art because you can find art in whatever you want to, really.

I’ve never found myself grinding my teeth at the idea of John Cage’s 4′33″, but I will say that I don’t think many people put it into their Spotify playlists.

No, I think it works best as a conceptual joke. Minimalism and humor are not paradoxical, and I think they can both coexist. I find a lot of John Cage’s work very funny. 4′33″ is a grand joke on the idea of art, and some of his chance-based compositions are just noisy—they’re chaotic, not pleasurable, noisy sounds that were “fuck you, listen to this,” and I find that very funny. It’s a way of joking and making fun of art as much as anything, and I always enjoy that. Seeing the joke in it is part of the fun.

We’ve started to look back in time, and one of the things that you emphasize in your book is that this longing for less and this feeling that we would be better off living the simple life certainly did not begin when Marie Kondo came over from Japan and asked us if our tchotchkes sparked joy. It has a long history. What’s the earliest kind of articulation of this feeling, this longing, that you found?

Yes, it’s tough. I think you can go back to ancient Greek and Roman philosophy and talk about the Stoics and the acceptance of what’s around you and of your fate in a certain way, and that feels minimalist to me. One of my favorite examples and one I’ve thought a lot about the Chinese I Ching, which is this fortune telling system that was made up of these very plain grids and lines that represented the fractures on burnt tortoise shells as a way of predicting fate, and that feels minimalist and certainly inspired future forms of minimalism. But also, I think you can track a path through Christianity, like Francis of Assisi, and American transcendentalist like Thoreau.

You have a quote here, “Jesus is the original minimalist.”

I don’t know if I agree with that one, but that was from a Christian minimalist lifestyle blogger who called Jesus the original minimalist. I don’t know what his fashion sense was like, or how he decorated his house. Certainly, he seemed to live a very simple life. But yes, I think the philosophy has a long history. The idea that civilization or consumerism is too much, too obsessed with material gain, is a perennial human theme, and likely will recur as long as humanity exists.

Yes, of course. You cite Thoreau: I need to simplify, I need to purge, but I still want someone else to do my laundry or whatever. That desire of: What if I just had four walls, a chair, and my thoughts?

Yes, like things you make yourself: “I’m going to produce everything around me and simplify my life down to things that I can control and manage, and I will be the heroic protagonist of Western civilization.” I think, in some ways, it’s philosophically minimalist, but also egotistically maximalist.

There is this sense that it’s about authenticity. Often, there’s an implicit idea of the world around us and the society that we’re in, that something has been built atop the authentic, true human self—the essence of existence—and we have to strip away the inauthentic to reach the authentic.

Authenticity is the thing that we’re always pursuing. Even though we don’t know what it means, things feel inauthentic when they’re too much, too abstract, or too distant from their sources. In the 2010s, you could say that the internet caused plenty of people to feel inauthentic, that “too much of my experience is online—it’s too immaterial and abstract for me.” That could cause a certain desire for minimalism, which is physical simplicity and things you can understand and touch.

The longing for less is something I totally grasp. I think we can all get this feeling. This is going to sound conspiratorial, but I worry that we will be told you don’t need to own a house, and instead, you can live in a bunk bed with six other people, spend $3,000 a month on it, and be living your true authentic life because you won’t be surrounded by all of these material things you can just donate.

I think that’s true, though. It looked like it was going to happen, certainly in the late 2010s, with WeWork and WeLive.

That’s a minimalist thing.

Yes, totally. It’s a scalable, efficient vision of authentic life that depends on the city for its meaning. There was no meaning to your dwelling, it was all about what you were doing out on the street or something. But again, I think the pandemic totally proved the lie to that stuff. All of a sudden, you’re trapped in your WeLive dormitory, and you have nothing but minimalist furniture and your weird cafeteria to survive on, and that didn’t work out for many people. So, I think there has been this retreat away from that idea, and hopefully more people directly involved in their own life for something. I don’t see it as homesteading quite, but I do think the pandemic caused a big flight out of cities and a greater interest in rural lands, growing your own food, and making your own staff, which can be good.

You associate some of the minimalist instinct of our own time or the time immediately before our own time—things have changed somewhat over the past few years—with anxiety and crisis. You write:

“Minimalism is a communal invention, the blank slate that it offers an illusion, especially given its history. It is popular around the world, I think, because it reacts against a condition that is now everywhere, a state of social crisis, mixed with a terminal dissatisfaction with the material culture around us that seems to have delivered us to this point, though the fault is our own. When I see the austere kitchens, bare shelves and elegant cement walls, the dim vague colors and the skeletal furniture, the monochrome devices, the white t-shirts, the empty walls, the wide open windows looking out onto nothing in particular, minimalism as a meme on Instagram, as a self-help book commandment, as an encouragement to get rid of as much as possible in the name of imminently buying more, I see both an anxiety of nothingness and a desire to capitulate to it. Like the French phrase for the subconscious flash of desire to jump off the ledge lapel divvied The Call of the Void.”

I remember writing that, and it really was the climax of the book—it comes toward the end. I think by meditating on this stuff for so long, I was very much in that mindset of, “Maybe we should just embrace nothingness. Maybe this is the answer.” But, it’s paradoxical: it is this eternal longing that we have to throw it all away and embrace the void. I came to the conclusion by writing the book that you have to find that for yourself. You don’t buy a t-shirt, a lamp, or a chair, or you don’t paint your apartment walls white—that isn’t how you indulge in that desire for the void or how you resolve it in yourself. You have to actually go back to your own sensations and understand what your own perception of beauty and what your own reality around you is. I think the aesthetic of minimalism is often a distraction from that. I always think back to this insane photoshoot that the Times did of this woman’s house, which was a complete white void: the floors and walls were painted white, and the furniture was white. It just seemed like no human being could exist in the space, and yet it was being upheld as the height of luxury and perfection. I feel that totally speaks to the absurdity of that moment that the most money in the world bought you was a white vacuum.

One of the problems that I have is that when I’m in spaces that are made in accordance with a minimalist aesthetic, I feel like as a human being, I’m a problem: I’m killing the perfection of the space with my stenches and hairiness; I am not perfect; I am not a machine; I don’t belong here; I’m ruining it.

Ruining the vibe of this minimalist room. It’s not a livable aesthetic, and it’s very hard to find yourself in those spaces. There is a Philip Johnson quote that I have in the book—Philip Johnson being the architect of the Glass House, a semi-famous, semi-reformed Nazi. The modernist tastemaker of America said, “You can be comfortable in any space that’s beautiful,” and I think that’s actually not super true.

You went to the Glass House and saw that it was beautiful and also unlivable.

Yes, exactly. The Glass House is just a small glass box with a tiny bedroom area, a little kitchen, and one beautiful 18th century French painting, that was not livable. It was always a facade and an image. Philip Johnson built these other buildings on that campus to actually sustain his life: an enclosed bedroom with only one small window, a beautiful library/studio, and a weird neoclassical pavilion on a pond. That perfect modernist image was not ultimately sustainable for a living.

I got a Kyle Chayka quote to read you on that very subject:

“Minimalism can be oppressive. The style can make you feel like you don’t belong in this space unless you conform to it, as in upscale cafés or severe hotel lobbies. Being in the Glass House among the handful of high design, high art objects that Johnson deign to allow, doesn’t really feel like freedom but entrapment and someone else’s vision. Its spareness might seem luxurious, but it’s also expensive and finicky, a facade of simplicity.”

There we go. I repeat my own word, facade. But it is finicky. If you have to have everything be in its perfect spot and immaculately compose your living space, then that’s not flexible. That’s not human and not very functional. I always thought it was amusing to compare that to Donald Judd’s home spaces in Marfa or Soho, which were cluttered. He was the ultimate minimalist artist, and yet he kept piles of books on every single surface that he resided. He would have little seashells, sculptures, odds and ends, and materials everywhere, and was totally anathema to Johnson.

Did he sit in his own chairs?

Yes, he did. I think there’s a good quote of his writing, in which he says, “In a chair, you’re supposed to be uncomfortable”—it should keep you awake, essentially. When you’re working, you can sit in a chair, and when you’re hanging out, you can lay in a day bed. So, the day beds are for contemplating, and the chairs are for active working.

I just suspect that he was in the day bed more and his guests were in chairs more. I think you do a fairly good job in the book of withholding a little bit of your personal judgment and how your own relationship to minimalism ended up. I was trying to judge from what you’re wearing, and what I see behind you, whether you are, in fact, a minimalist or not, and I still can’t tell.

Yes, I still am a minimalist. Writing the book and thinking through these aesthetics so deeply, I was more appreciative of this more fundamental message, which is that you should engage with what’s around you and know and understand your own tastes and appreciate the things you appreciate, rather than just mindlessly accepting one style or another. So, I like to think that everything that’s in our house is something that we understand and appreciate. I think we do write books to exercise certain thoughts from our minds or get over a subject, and I think I am happy that I’ve said everything about minimalism that I feel like saying.

Sorry to make you say it again.

I love that I had all these thoughts already. And so, I feel like I fully digested this, and now I can kind of live my life beyond it.

My last book on right-wing arguments was very much like this. “I just need to write my definitive responses to all these arguments so I never have to think about them again.”

Exactly. It’s intrusive thoughts that you have to then spend two years obsessing over, and then they’re gone.

I will say that this book did make me really want a rock garden.

Rock gardens are beautiful. I would love one in my house. I think my girlfriend would not really appreciate it. It would be really heavy, and I always wondered if it would break the floor or something.

Ah, yes. Rocks.

Big rocks! That’s a lot of rocks for an apartment, but they are very beautiful.

Transcript edited by Patrick Farnsworth. This conversation has been lightly edited for grammar and clarity. It originally appeared on the Current Affairs podcast.

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