Wabi Sabi

I happened across a book today at the store called Wabi Sabi Simple. It introduced the aesthetic of “wabi sabi” — which is, among other things, the idea that “things that have been handled, that are aged have more value than things that are pristine” as a friend who studies Japanese language and culture put it. That’s the “wabi” side of it. The “sabi” side is about the beauty of alone-ness, melancholy, sort of. Well, they’re very culturally loaded concepts and nothing I’m going to do justice to in a blog entry. Suffice it to say it was something I wanted to look into further and learn about.

So I go to the glorious Web. And this is why I’m blogging it. What do I find when I look for wabi sabi on the wonderful world wide freaking web?

  • At the top of the list, this wiki article which starts as a straightforward discussion of the topic and ends up in a big debate over whether or not Extreme Programming is Wabi Sabi. I kid you not. Freaking hacker culture, thinks it owns everything, even Japanese aesthetics. Ptooey.
  • But that was nothing. The real horror begins Here, at Fox News:

    NEW YORK — Imperfection is beauty.
    That’s the concept at the heart of wabi sabi, the new “it” theme in popular design that brings nature to everything from cars to kitchen countertops….in People magazine’s 2003 spring fashion hot and not list, wabi sabi was described as “in” and feng shui, the once-chic Chinese art of positioning objects to create positive effects, as “out.”

Kami preserve us.