Imperfection could be aesthetic, too

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By Deepak M Ranade

“She fused them together with gold, all the golden gossamer she had stored in her heart. Those imperfections, that I used to hide from the world, she decorated them.”  These words can be found inscribed on a Kintsugi bowl.

Kintsugi is a Japanese method for repairing broken ceramics with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver or platinum. The philosophy behind the technique is to restore and enhance the value of the object that has developed cracks. It is a process that visibly incorporates the repair and renders it even more beautiful than it was before.

Kintsugi art has its origins in the ancient Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi which deals with seeing beauty in what is considered flawed or imperfect. The Japanese term means “a way of living that focusses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully, the natural cycle of growth and decay.”

The art form of Kintsugi, uses the ‘crack’ approach where the cracks and fissures are mended and sealed with a lacquer mixed with glue. This is the most common Kintsugi technique, and it culminates in bestowing an intricate and inimitable reticulate pattern of shimmering veins that have come to define the art form. Despite the Greco-Roman passion for symmetry and perfection, the appreciation of beauty residing in flaws has been noted by Western philosophers, literature and aesthetics.

There are poetic references by Ernest Hemingway to life’s inevitable orders to break us all and the resulting strengths that calcify at our broken places; by Leonard Cohen on how the light comes through the cracks; by Jhumpa Lahiri on how imperfection inspires the spark of creation and imagination.  Even any imperfect physical objects surrounding us can become symbols of our diligence to find meaning.

We all have had our failures, imperfections and defects in our personalities. They are an inevitable, and maybe even indelible aspects of life. Failures and imperfections have a way of haunting us; they tend to weaken and undermine our efforts, making us diffident and unsure of ourselves. They could generate a sense of inadequacy, inferiority, low self-esteem and perhaps a self-deprecatory mindset. Failures are never forgotten, no matter how hard one tries to forget them, and they remain as ungainly scars on our psyche. These wounds might never heal, they can be obtrusive and can distort the complexion of our personality.

Can we not incorporate, assimilate, integrate, our failures and the imperfections of our personality to make ourselves better and beautiful?

Imperfections, too, can be aesthetic if accompanied by pride and dignity. The cracks of failure and imperfection need to be sealed with a special glue of acceptance, mixed with the shimmer of dignity and self-belief. The scars of lost battles need to be touched up with the veneer of wisdom, and adorned with the glitter of confidence.

Grace and poise become present in the elegance with which we harmonise our imperfections and shortcomings, laced with endearing modesty. “Perfection could smack of complacence, even an arrogance that preempts any scope for improvement. Nothing is ever perfect; even when it appears to be so. And we are subconsciously looking for the flaw,” observes marketing researcher Martin Lindstrom.

The spiritual path is the way to a beautiful journey of the imperfect towards the perfect. It is, in fact, realising the perfection that manifests as imperfection.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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