what is the universe like?
things are either devolving toward, or evolving from, nothingness. as dusk approaches in the hinterlands, a traveler ponders shelter for the night. he notices tall rushes growing everywhere, so he bundles an armful together as they stand in the field, and knots them at the top. presto, a living grass hut. the next morning, before embarking on another day's journey, he unknots the rushes and presto, the hut de-constructs, disappears, and becomes a virtually indistinguishable part of the larger field of rushes once more. the original wilderness seems to be restored, but minute traces of the shelter remain. a slight twist or bend in a reed here and there. there is also the memory of the hut in the mind of the traveler- and in the mind of the reader reading this description. wabi-sabi, in it's purest, most idealized form, is precisely about these delicate traces, this faint evidence, at the borders of nothingness.
while the universe destructs it also constructs. new things emerge out of nothingness. but we can't really determine by cursory observation whether something is in the evolving or devolving mode. if we didn't know differently we might mistake the newborn baby boy- small, wrinkled, bent, a little grotesque looking- for the very old man on the brink of death. in representations of wabi-sabi, arbitrarily perhaps, the devolving dynamic generally tends to manifest itself in things a little darker, more obscure, and quiet. things evolving tend to be a little lighter and brighter, a bit clearer, and slightly more eye-arresting. and nothingess itself- instead of being empty space, as in the west- is alive with possibility. in metaphysical terms, wabi-sabi suggests that the universe is in constant motion toward or away from potential.
wabi-sabi-for artists, designers, poets & philosophy
by leonard koren