Weekend 610.1 (Unpretentious, simple, unfinished, transient things)

“The leg is a lot better. I heal fast. I believe in Jesus, so that helps.” — Captain Ron

“Everything that claims our attachment is, when all is said and done, passing and doomed to die. The chains with which we bind ourselves are very fragile, and once our will is set in order by our clinging to the divine Will, everything conspires to set us free.” — A Carthusian

A quote from The Fighting Temeraire by Sam Willins:

Countless other smaller artefacts have been lost to history, not least the wooden leg of one Trafalgar veteran who reportedly begged Mr Beatson for timber from the Temeraire to replace his ‘larboard leg’, a request that Beatson granted.

A quote from The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton:

In medieval Japan, poets and Zen priests directed the Japanese towards aspects of the world to which Westerners have seldom publicly accorded more than negligible or casual attention: cherry blossoms, deformed pieces of pottery, raked gravel, moss, rain falling on leaves, autumn skies, roof tiles and unvarnished wood. A word emerged, wabi, of which no Western language, tellingly, has a direct equivalent, which identified beauty with unpretentious, simple, unfinished, transient things. There was wabi to be enjoyed in an evening spent alone in a cottage in the woods hearing the rain fall. There was wabi in old ill-matching sets of crockery, in plain buckets, in walls with blemishes, and in rough, weathered stones covered in moss and lichen. The most wabi colours were grey, black and brown.

To immerse ourselves in Japanese aesthetics and to nurture a sympathy for its atmosphere may help to prepare us for the day when, in a museum of ceramics, we encounter traditional tea bowls, for example, by the artist Hon’ami Koetsu. We won’t believe, as we might have done without the legacy of 600 years of reflection on the appeal of wabi, that such pieces are puzzling blobs of unformed matter. We will have learnt to appreciate a beauty that we were not born seeing. And, in the process, we will puncture the simplistic notion, heavily promoted by purveyors of plastic mansions, that what a person currently finds beautiful should be taken as the limit of all that he or she can ever love.

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