Daily Riches: The Glorious Imperfection of the Present Moment (Maria Popova, Junichiro Tanizaki and Leonard Cohen)

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen

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“Unlike the Western conception of beauty—a stylized fantasy constructed by airbrushing reality into a narrow and illusory ideal of perfection—the zenith of Japanese aesthetics is deeply rooted in the glorious imperfection of the present moment and its relationship to the realities of the past…. This temporal continuity of beauty, a counterpoint to the West’s neophilia, is central to Japanese aesthetics. Rather than fetishizing the new and shiny, the Japanese sensibility embraces the living legacy embedded in objects that have been used and loved for generations, seeing the process of aging as something that amplifies rather than muting the material’s inherent splendor. Luster becomes not an attractive quality but a symbol of shallowness, a vacant lack of history:

We find it hard to be really at home with things that shine and glitter. The Westerner uses silver and steel and nickel tableware, and polishes it to a fine brilliance, but we object to the practice… We begin to enjoy it only when the luster has worn off, when it has begun to take on a dark, smoky patina. Almost every householder has had to scold an insensitive maid who has polished away the tarnish so patiently waited for. …We do not dislike everything that shines, but we do prefer a pensive luster to a shallow brilliance, a murky light that, whether in a stone or an artifact, bespeaks a sheen of antiquity.

Tanizaki speaks affectionately of ‘the glow of grime,’ which ‘comes of being touched over and over’—a record of the tactile love an object has acquired through being caressed by human hands again and again.” Maria Popova quoting Junichiro Tanizaki

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My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
Psalm 51:17

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay”
2 Corinthians 4:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Might you be guilty of “fetishizing the new and shiny?” …of “neophilia?”
  • Does this reading tempt you to think differently about beauty? …aging? …friendship? …marriage? …spirituality?
  • Why would anyone prefer a “luster” to a “brilliance?”

Abba, help me to appreciate “the glow of grime”–especially in myself and my fellow homo sapiens.

For More: In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a question or comment. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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