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Paperback Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence Book


ISBN13: 9780804834827

Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence

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Book Overview

Developed out of the aesthetic philosophy of cha-no-yu (the tea ceremony) in fifteenth-century Japan, wabi sabi is an aesthetic that finds beauty in things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

he's got it.

Writing about wabi-sabi is as vexing as writing about zen, part of its own inspiration. it's hard to write about something that defines itself as antithetical to verbiage, about something that is physically killed off by language. using words to describe zen and its travelling companions are nearly -- nearly -- impossible by definition. the author, who practices wabi-sabi through what seems to be an attractive and successful design company in posh Chichester (UK), occasionally wades into the swamps of verbiage (on this subject every author does, even DT Suzuki) but he never stays damp for long and always emerges to provide more information, while continuously honing and refining his definitions. this is a very good effort at explaining spirituality and aesthetics in a culture quite different than ours in the West. he writes masterfully, and whether he is uncommonly empathetic all around, or uniquely wired into the Japanese weltanschaung (or both), i don't know. but it is a short, competent and oftentimes beautiful little book. buy this, buy suzuki on zen and japanese art, then save the rest for an unusually fine piece of bizen-yaki or shigaraki-yaki ceramic (knowing that these two books should be enough).

Wabi Sabi - Beyond Hobby

Although concepts of Wabi Sabi have been around for centuries, it is wryly amusing that no Japanese has ever attempted an analysis. (All the books on this subject seem to be by Westerners with certain orientations.) This is because Zen disdains intellectualism and dismisses rational approaches to satori out of hand. The Japanese logic has always been to avoid the subject, because the very use of prose is to admit one's spiritual failure. Andrew Juniper has come to satisfy our rational cravings with a cogent, indeed elegant little book. He even attempts a definition of the term on page 51: "Wabi sabi is an intuitive appreciation of transient beauty in the physical world that reflects the irreversible flow of life in the spiritual world. It is an understated beauty that exists in the modest, rustic, imperfect, or even decayed, an aesthetic sensibility that finds a melancholic beauty in the impermanence of all things." Is not every syllable meaningful? I am very grateful for bi-cultural people who write so well. He explores the nexus between Zen, Japanese culture and wabi sabi in straight forward language that yet remains respectful. He excels at big picture description. "The Universal Spirit of Wabi Sabi" is a short concluding section with prose as jarring as it is graceful. I am not about to wabi-sabiize my life. Such change is for young radicals. But I do think Westerners as well as Eastern converts to Consumerism should be aware of alternatives that someday may be thrust upon us. There will come a time when planned obsolescence will be regarded as criminal, so you may want to invest a few shares in a good wabi sabi mutual fund. Juniper's book will get you started.

Just what I was looking for.

I dont know how to put it nicely, but smellpuppies review below couldnt be more off the mark even if he tried. Wabi Sabi for Artists...etc. is just a teaser compared to this book! W.S. for Artists is a great book to start off with and could be read in a couple of hours. However Juniper's book delves more into the history of the Tea Ceremony, Zen Buddhism, Modern Art and the philosophy of wabi sabi aesthetics.. Juniper's knowledge is vast and more importantly, insightful. He clearly has a deep understanding of both Western and Eastern worldviews without favoring one or the other.

Exploring the Wabi Sabi Concept

This book is a manifesto for a traditional Japanese aesthetic. The author begins with an operational definition of wabi sabi: "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" (p. 11). He then proceeds to round out this definition by examining different aspects of the concept of wabi sabi such as its historical origin in Zen, its development in Japanese culture, and its expression in Japanese arts and crafts. Finally, he lists design criteria, identifies suitable materials, and sketches out ethical principles that are required for the creation of objects that are wabi sabi.The author's tone sometimes becomes anxious and urgent when discussing commercial culture and design, both in the West, where materiality is "ever-encroaching" (p. 3), and in Japan, where "the space afforded to wabi sabi is certainly on the decline, and its future relevance to Japan is under threat" (p. 58). Also, he treads very lightly when discussing the way wabi sabi objects became status symbols in Japan. The volume itself is a well-designed paperback with a readable font, wide margins, and austere black-and-white photographs that present some very memorable images.Immediately after finishing reading this book, I wanted to give it a rating of four stars. The next day I noticed that I was thinking about the spaces and objects in my life a different way, so I've upped the rating to five stars. Read the book and give it a few days to work.
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