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aesthetics

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Imagine two bowls. The first, made of immaculately white ceramic, embedded with intricate gold patterns. Clearly expensive. The second is wooden, old, lines of woodgrain and a few visible scratches being its only notable features. It’s safe to say most would prefer to own the first. We’ve learned to view perfection and anything close to it as the ideal standard of beauty. We’re attracted to things that are new, precise, spotless, sophisticated, and defect-free. Anything less risks earning a second-rate status. But beauty can be found even in the humblest of wooden bowls. The various chips, scars, and blemishes on its worn surface are seen not as unattractive flaws, but as signs of personal history and a simple, understated kind of beauty. This appreciation of a thing’s imperfections is what the humble Japanese aesthetic philosophy of wabi-sabi can teach us. Wabi-sabi is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, which makes it…