Published May 23rd, 2017
It’s true that it takes all types. But sometimes the things people do don’t make any sense. The people you catch a glimpse of from the bus and wonder, What the fuck is that person doing? Which brings us back to our series Why Are You Doing That?
We heard about this guy named Jeremy Carne who’s decided to live in a warehouse with nothing but a wetsuit. This might seem like some form of protest but Jeremy isn’t actually a protester or a performance artist. He’s just a regular guy who works as a digital producer in Melbourne. Beyond that, we thought we’d let Jeremy explain.
VICE: Hey Jeremy, can you tell me why you’re wearing a wetsuit?
Jeremy Carne: It’s because I’m doing a social experiment on myself. Basically I’m planning on living in a warehouse without any possessions I don’t actually need.
It’s a reaction. We’re told we need to acquire possessions in order to better ourselves and become happy and fulfilled. But there’s no real wisdom saying you need more things to make yourself happy.
What are your rules for this? The rules are pretty simple: I’ve started off with nothing, then through my primal senses I’m going to learn what I need. If I need warmth, I’ll get a blanket. If I’m hungry, I’ll get something to eat. I’ll just grab them from home.
I see you’ve already put on a wetsuit?
Yeah, I got cold.
Do you have a limit on the items you’re allowed to need?
There’s no limit. It’s just going to be what I need at that given time. The Dalai Lama apparently only has 17 items so I’d like to aim for 16 or less.
How long are planning on putting yourself through this?
As long as it takes until I feel I’ve gained what I need. There’s no time limit.
Are you feeling nervous about this?
I’m actually terrified. The more I look around this space, the less comfortable I am. I feel very vulnerable right now. I also feel like an idiot, but I suppose that’s expected.
Is this the first time you’ve done an experiment like this?
No, last year I actually lived with pigs on and off for about a month. I really wanted to challenge myself to create a bond with an animal that has such a negative reputation in our society. I just had one pair of clothes and lived in a tent and used the shower at the camp site. By the end of it, I really did feel I’d established a strong connection and relationship with the pigs. The experience of living life with them simply left me feeling more fulfilled.
Hey Jeremy, how have the last few days been?
They’ve been easier than I expected! I really felt like I’ve come into the idea a lot more. It didn’t take me long to realise this is all I need. I’m not sure if it’s because my brain quickly caught on and the anxiety faded.
I notice you’ve ditched the wetsuit for normal clothes and you’ve now got well over 17 items. Yeah it was liberating to realise I could wear whatever I wanted and no one cared. But it felt like a natural transition to make this more sustainable for myself and do this for a while. The wetsuit wasn’t comfortable at all.
What were the items you realised you needed during this?
I quickly realised I did need clothes as well as changes of underwear and socks so I could be comfortable. It’s fucking cold in here, so I got another inflatable mattress and some bedding to be warm at night. I needed items for personal hygiene obviously and I needed my computer for work. I also got a plant because I felt I really needed some life in the room.
Do you feel you managed to accomplish what you set out to do? I mean, there’s people who have almost nothing but still survive.
There was a moment of “shit” but I felt it needs to be what it needs to be. This was an experiment for myself to see what I actually did need and to better understand my relation with consumerism. If I was going out to see the bare minimum on what we need to survive as humans, then it’d be different. But this was an entirely personal journey.
Did you have any sense of joy or relief when you got more items?
It’s funny you say that because I did. I think it’s because we’re so accustomed to feel better when we have more things. It’s almost like it’s a treat for us.
How do you feel after putting yourself through this? Have you found happiness?
I learned I don’t actually need a lot of what I have. I don’t need to get new things in order to get some validation. In terms of happiness, I don’t feel happier. I feel a sense of clarity and freedom from clutter. I got what I was looking for.