so wabi

October 29, 2011

it’s intangible, indefinable, inspiring and represents the “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” – it’s wabi-sabi! with roots in zen buddhism and japanese tea ceremony, the aesthetic philosophy of wabi-sabi is difficult to describe, but you would probably know it if you saw it. driftwood, misty mornings, drooping flowers and rusting metal are all included in this concept of acceptance, peace, purity, contentedness and the chaos of the natural world. it’s about the possibilities in nothingness!

i was first introduced to the concept of wabi-sabi in my japanese tea ceremony class in college. our teacher would have us bring in objects that we thought embodied the philosophy- fallen leaves, rustic ceramics, decaying treasures from nature. design philosopher leonard koren breaks down the elements of wabi-sabi in the much-loved, wabi-sabi for artists, designers, poets and philosophers: ”wabi sabi can be in its fullest expression a way of life. at the very least, it is a particular type of beauty.”

when i get caught up in the bs of everyday life, it’s comforting to read this book, for even just a few minutes, to think about the world in a way that gets me back to a peaceful, contemplative state of mind. yup.

metaphysical basis: things are either devolving toward, or evolving from, nothingness.

spiritual values: truth comes from the observation of nature; “greatness” exists in the inconspicuous and overlooked details; beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness.

state of mind: acceptance of the inevitable; appreciation of the cosmic order.

moral precepts: get rid of all that is unnecessary; focus on the intrinsic and ignore material hierarchy.

material qualities: the suggestion of natural process, irregular, intimate, earthy, unpretentious, murky, simple.

thanks to gretchen for her wabi sabi photos and for suggesting the topic. text taken from leonard koren’s wabi-sabi for artists, designers, poets and philosophers. get a used copy on abebooks for about five bucks!


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