Book Heaven

Where the world of books and life intersect

Location: South Amboy, New Jersey

I am deeply involved in trying to solve the discrepancy between being interested in zen and trying to acquire all the things I've been accumulating

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I Practice Wabi-Sabi

Having long been a fan of Japanese thinking, I have wrestled mightily with the concept of Wabi-Sabi which is the idea that there is beauty in imperfection. Supposedly WabiSabi was first originated with Zen practioners who hold that there is no such thing as permanence or perfection. All things are impermanent and imperfect.

The concept has entered my mind on many occasions when I obsessively try to find the most perfect copy of a book to purchase. On more than one occasion I have rejected a book simply because it had some minor imperfection -- it doesn't take much more than a tiny tear or ding to cancel the purchase. In fact I am still looking for a copy of a particular book, having rejected all the copies I've seen so far for some flaw.

I now have a great opportunity to embrace Wabi-Sabi as a truly unfortunate event has befallen some of my books. A mysterious leak recently appeared in my basement and the small amount of water that soaked through my ceiling tiles (causing several of them to fall) fell on the floor of one room causing quite a bit of damage as it migrated under the carpet and under the boxes and piles of books that were stacked on the floor. Hundreds of books and magazines were affected, some pretty badly. Never one to throw out anything, I tried to save as many of them as I could by spreading them out to dry on my deck. A great percentage of them were in fact saved but I now have an awful lot of imperfect objects to practice Wabi-Sabi on. Now doubt I will be a Wabi-Sabi master before long (certainly if I don't find the elusive leak which has mysteriously cured itself for the moment).

Of course I will soon begin to consult my extensive Zen library to learn as much about Wabi-Sabi as I can, but in the meantime I've bought some of those nifty water alarms to make sure I don't have too many imperfect books to contemplate. Keep your powder and books dry!


Blogger Bill said...

Sorry to hear about the wet books. I've heard that you should immediately freeze wet books. When they thaw, they're supposed to be OK. Don't know if that's true or not.

4:52 AM  

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