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Wabi-sabi

From Academic Kids

Wabi-sabi (in Kanji: 侘寂) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic. It is difficult to explain wabi-sabi in Western terms, but the aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, or incomplete.

According to Leonard Koren, wabi-sabi is the most conspicuous and characteristic feature of what we think of as traditional Japanese beauty and it "occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese pantheon of aesthetic values as do the Greek ideals of beauty and perfection in the West." Andrew Juniper claims, "if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi sabi." Richard R. Powell summarizes by saying "It (wabi-sabi) nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."

Examining the meanings of the component words wabi and sabi, we find sentiments of solitude and desolation. In a Zen view of the universe, these may be viewed as positive characteristics, representing liberation from a material world and transcendence to a simpler life. Zen philosophy itself, however, warns that genuine understanding cannot be achieved through words or language, so accepting wabi-sabi on nonverbal terms may be the most appropriate approach.

Contents

Wabi-sabi in Japanese arts

Many Japanese arts over the past thousand years have been influenced by Zen philosophy, particularly acceptance and contemplation of the imperfection, constant flux, and impermanence of all things. Such arts can exemplify a wabi-sabi aesthetic. Here is an incomplete list:

Western use

During the 1990s the concept was borrowed by computer software developers and employed in Agile programming and Wiki wiki to describe acceptance of the state of ongoing imperfection that is the product of these methods.

See also

  • iki (one of Japanese aesthetic ideals)

References

External links

de:Wabi-Sabi ru:Ваби-саби

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