Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wabi-sabi - a philosophy.

I recently read this book by Leonard Koren after annekata mentioned it.

A small, unassuming book, printed simply, with a few black and white photographs ...
Leaf decomposing on sidewalk - Leonard Koren

 ... short enough to read through in one sitting. It has kept my mind occupied for over a week now. So, not the kind of book that you read and promptly forget when you close it.

It sets out Koren's idea of what wabi-sabi entails, and starts out like this:
"Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
It is a beauty of things unconventional."

He goes on to describe the links with Zen Buddhism, attempts to explain the subtle differences between wabi and sabi, compares wabi-sabi with Modernism, and then sets out what he considers to be the wabi-sabi universe - its metaphysical basis, spiritual values, the state of mind it fosters, its moral precepts, and material qualities.

I think the Ngoni stool I purchased recently embodies some of the elements of wabi-sabi. Unadorned, sturdy, rustic, imperfect. Used. Although wabi-sabi is not necessarily about functionality, I like the fact that my stool can be used (and has been used) as a neck rest, a stool for meditation, a cutting board, and to hold tea lights.


nathalie et cetera said...

without knowing it, I really like wabi-sabi. and i really like your stool too!

Leenie said...

The book sounds fascinating. People need to be reminded how valuable rustic, humble and unconventional are. We are always striving for perfection, trying to be the best. Then in the process we overlook experience and beauty caused by time.

Your stool looks like it could tell a lot of good stories if it could talk.

Linda Sue said...

Wabi-sabi- yup- that's life!
Mr. Husband must have straight lines, smooth surfaces, exact measurements, lined up stuff like all same sized soldiers. I am opposite, needless to say- I drive him mad! I think that I am the one who drove him there...could have been just wabi-sabi life in general...perfection, horrible affliction.Madness, I suppose, is wabi-sabi- so there you go.

annekata said...

Love your Ngoni stool. There is not much written about function in this book, which is interesting. I've been reading and re-reading it for weeks now and I always find something new. (Surprising for such a small book!) Here is one of my favorite quotes:
"Pare down to the essence, but don't remove the poetry." Your knitted Wabi Sabi cover really reflects that "poetic simplicity".
Because "simplicity" can be very complex sometimes...

Anonymous said...

Lovely, this reminds me of what my shop days were about although I never could quite explain it... great to hear the term today. Thanks Anairam... and OH, I LOVE your creations in the posts below! x L

Sarah said...

I love that little stool-so full of a life being used and loved! Wabi-sabi sounds like something I already like but didn't know the name of. I must get the book!

♥ w o o l f ♥ said...

omg, what an interesting post!