Celebrating the Incomplete

Esthete -Word of the Day

Also spelt as Aesthete


Image: thatcreativefeeling.com

Desiring to study the Way of Tea, Sen no Rikyu went to the tea-master Takeeno Joo who set Rikyu the task of tending the garden as a test. Rikyu cleaned to perfection, but before presenting his work to Joo, he shook a cherry tree, causing some blossom to fall to the ground. A little imperfection being the perfect ground. Thus began his journey into returning the tea ceremony and everything associated to its former simplicity.

It is said that the Japanese revere Rikyu as one who understood the aesthetic known as wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi emerged in the 15th century as a reaction to the aesthetic of very formal and ornate and extravagant art and design of that time. Wabi-sabi is “focussed on the acceptance of impermanence or transcience.” It speaks of “a readiness to accept things as they are.” Or, finding the beauty within imperfections.

Wabi symbolises rustic beauty and quietness, simplicity and quietness. It can also refer to flaws, quirks and abnormalities that occur during production, e.g. pottery, or, as in the case of Rikyu, the blossom disrupting the otherwise perfect garden.

Sabi refers to things whose beauty can only come with age, like weathered timber, green copper, rusted tin. Sabi is said to evoke a sombre feeling very much like autumn.

Wabi-sabi is said to be honest, authentic, organic, modest, incomplete, and where nature, even nature’s corosive power, is celebrated.

Ref: britannica.com, dt.pepperdine.edu (Richard Martin).

How refreshing! I really warm to this aesthetic, and how much we need to embrace it today. Wabi-sabi simplicity could be the antidote to our materialistic, throw-away, plasticised way of living. An acceptance of life as it is. More than cloth bags and organic soap (important as these things are) we/all living things need a modern aesthetic equivalent to wabi-sabi. More imperfection and less sculptured fruit and veg. More authenticity and less keeping up with the Jones’. More incomplete, and evoking a sense of the real. Celebrating nature by engaging nature’s needs. Being organic in every way from relationships, to lifestyle, to purchasing. Accepting things as they are from people to the cosmos. Living with our flaws (shadow aware). How refreshing. I yearn for a bit of Rikyu in all of us.


I Love the Flaw in You

Dead center,
on the mantlepiece,
my truest work
as yet.

Soft clay now hard as nails,
its beauty is its cleft.
Its radiance not celadon,
a muddy glaze its skin.

She sits proudly among the celebrated,
offended by their pretence –
perfect, slick, and mass produced,
with images of empire now dead.

As I contemplate my minimum,
I know she goes with me.
The others to the Op-Shop,
or some other recycle path.

This ugly piece of earth,
this imperfect lustred pot,
speaks, shouts, to me of real life,
and how to cope with love.

©Paul Cannon






Filed under art, environment, history, life, mindfulness, minimalism, nature, Philosophy/Theology, poetry, quote

25 responses to “Celebrating the Incomplete

  1. I enjoyed reading this and love this philosophy. I do Saori Weaving developed by Misao Jo . Her philosophy is “we do not weave a piece of cloth, but rather our true selves” . The imperfections are an important part. Weaving our “true selves” helps to develop respect of others which in turn is required for global peace. It seems to be an extension of Wabi-Sabi thinking.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Kate

    Very good!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. [sigh] feels like you just summed my philosophy up perfectly 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love the wabi-sabi philosophy. Thank you so much for throwing light on it and the lovely poem. If only we could embrace our imperfections!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Nasuko

    What an Excellent topic! 😀
    The tea room(茶室) of Sen no Rikyu(千利休) is a hospitable, natural lighting, simple and reasonable creation etc .. It is made extremely thoughtfully.
    People of old days were thinking about ways to make good use of natural things well.
    I think it’s Wonderful. 😀
    Someday, please come to Japan and relax in the tea room,Welcome!!:D

    I just remembered, Australia has passed an Very important laws! ! It was Good!!:D

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very well written! A wide topic.
    Only very few remarks:
    Music production: It isn’t good to be as perfect as you can. I know through a friend that you can use a random program to inflict errors into a piece to make it more acceptable.
    Painting: Think of a photo-portrait 2m high with both sides of the face equal to each other. Complete Irritation.
    Spirituality: A teacher/Guru without personal flaws?! A nogo. Nobody wants to deal with someone who is “perfect”.


  7. MNL

    I like the wabi-sabi concept a lot. It also explains kinstugi

    Liked by 1 person

  8. lync56

    I love this whole article and the poem – wow


    Liked by 1 person

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