Wabi-Sabi: A Way to Think About the Digital Age


I've been fascinated recently by the idea of wabi sabi, a Japanese cultural concept. This idea, typically difficult to explain, is an aesthetic that finds beauty in things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Its qualities are mysterious and elusive, pertaining to things that are neither here nor there, to things fading and disappearing like mist or sunsets. I picked up this slim book Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren. The author writes:

"Wabi-sabi seemed to me a nature-based aesthetic paradigm that restored a measure of sanity and proportion to the art of living. Wabi-sabi resolved my artistic dilemma about how to create beautiful things without getting caught up in the dispiriting materialism that usually surrounds such creative acts. Wabi-sabi--deep, multi-dimensional, elusive--appeared the perfect antidote to the pervasively slick, saccharine, corporate style of beauty that I felt was desensitizing American society."

It's something I want to think more about as I consider my place in a world increasingly controlled by digital technologies but without the desire or will to think about what these technologies are doing.