The beauty described in Leonard Koren's "Wabi-Sabi" is not like the beauty we normally comment on in our daily lives, as seen in a mountain scape, a starlet's face, or a Monet. Wabi-Sabi comes from the profundity found in beginnings and endings, when a thing is not yet fully formed or nearly deteriorated. A new born infant and an elder on their death bed are equally wabi-sabi. In this way a sunrise and a sunset are both wabi-sabi, although they are also paragons of the beauty usually intended by Western perceptions. Besides this temporal aspect of wabi-sabi, there is also a technological one, or rather a lack of technology, as the aesthetic favors nature over artifice, a contradiction in that all cultural expressions are necessarily man-made. Thus, a wabi-sabi work reserves itself, it's formed defined by necessity and function. This reservation intersects with the aesthetics' time-based aspects, both striving to just barely exist. The final aspect of wabi-sabi that I gleamed from Koren's description is a class based primitivism, where the Japanese upper class attempts to regain some authenticity through the use of lower class objects. By portraying a forced modesty the elites can underplay the inequality of power in their society. All these aspects reveal wabi-sabi as a concept based beauty, not one meant for visual as much as mental pleasure, that aggregates into a pervasive presence in Japanese society, but the essence of which can be found in all modest or rustic forms of culture. Anyone who can find relevance in the vulnerable or the subtle can understand wabi-sabi.


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