Monday, August 12, 2013

an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace

“Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness. Wabi-sabi is ambivalent about separating beauty from non-beauty or ugliness. The beauty of wabi-sabi is in one respect, the condition of coming to terms with what you consider ugly. Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.”

- Leonard Koren

Rob has been reading and thinking about wabi-sabi for some time, and more so recently with his new flower paintings. Walking in the little forest yesterday morning, I kept finding all these beautifully imperfect leaves. I really wasn't expecting anything. The light coming through this orange and withered leaf seemed to call to me from amid all the other greener leaves. I took a few shots of it, and then either the dog or I bumped into the tree, and it fell.

“But when does something's destiny finally come to fruition? Is the plant complete when it flowers? When it goes to seed? When the seeds sprout? When everything turns into compost?” 

- Leonard Koren

"The definition of the Japanese words wabi sabi has changed over the years. At one time when the Japanese language was young, wabi meant "poverty," and sabi meant "loneliness." During the first major flowering of Japanese culture, "wabi" came to refer to the ideal hermit's life, lived in contemplation of nature and appreciation of the spiritual and aesthetic values underlying a solitary existence. His was a wabi way. The Japanese tea masters of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries developed a wabi style of tea ceremony as an alternative to the ornate and ostentatious ceremony in which the aristocracy would show off their valuable tea objects and forge political alliances. "Sabi" was refined over the years to emphasize a state of receptivity, fostered in remote natural settings. This positive aloneness was joined to the wabi appreciation of the understated and unrefined to form a phrase with deep resonance for the contemplative mind. People would dream of living in simple enlightened appreciation of nature."

- Richard Powell

The leaf fell, and was caught. By a spiderweb. And seemed to be levitating.

I stayed with it a while, but eventually left it, still suspended, still doing its little magic trick.

Was drawn by the bright red of these berries.

And to all that clings.

And then at the outskirts of the tiny forest, these. 

An astonishing filigree.

Which reminded me, once again, of Annie Dillard. 

"The texture of the world, its filigree and scrollwork, means that there is a possibility for beauty here, a beauty inexhaustible in its complexity, which opens to my knock, which answers in me a call I do not remember calling, and which trains me to the wild and extravagant nature of the spirit I seek.”

- Anne Dillard

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