Old notes 6

May 16th, 2021

The Wabi Sabi Guitar


I have been reading up on wabi-sabi, or the Japanese art of imperfection.

It is interesting that the wabi-sabi philosophy emerged in Japan, one of the most structured and, if I may say so, perfection-driven societies in the world.

It would never have come from the jungles of Borneo, for instance, because it’s pretty much all wabi-sabi there.

I first became aware of wabi-sabi from one of those glossy flight magazines and the concept immediately caught on to me.

After all, I have been trying to teach the concept of embracing imperfections in our performances to my students for a while, and here’s a philosophy that seems to mirror that concept.

In a way, we have become a perfection-driven society too.

And we see it in the trappings of modern life—the perfection of a brand new automobile, a brand new appliance, a brand new iPod.

There’s a uniformity about all these products, a sameness. But that’s perfection. Perfection means that there is an ideal state which we must all aspire to.

All our manufactured products conform to that ideal. There must not be a single scratch, or one deviation from that ideal. And if there’s any ‘deviation,’ we cast the “defective” product aside and sell it in outlet stores as being “irregular.”

In this regard, perfection is the very antithesis of creativity.

Creativity presupposes that what we create is new and unique and original, but if there’s only one ideal state of perfection, we are doomed to recreating it every time we try to be perfect.

Perfection turns us all into rubber stamps!

The perfection around us has given a false sense of what life is all about.

Instead of striving to make each moment a unique experience and enjoying it in all its unexpectedness and yes, imperfections, we end up always comparing it to some idealized state.

The result is we all become neurotics. We become slaves to some figment of our imagination called ‘perfection.’

Every thing else is defective and not worthy!


—Jan 27, 2005

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