Monday 25 July 2016

Summer Quotation for Monday 25th July

I didn't think I was going to find a quote for today - and then,

Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien 
Dit que le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.

Well, not quite. The quotation I actually found was

"Perfection is the enemy of done"

but when I went a-googling, I ended up here

where I discovered that

Perfect is the enemy of good is an aphorism, an English variant of the older better is the enemy of good, which was popularized by Voltaire in French form. Alternative forms include "the perfect is the enemy of the good", which more closely translate French and earlier Italian sayings, or "[the] perfect is the enemy of [the] good enough". Similar sentiments occur in other phrases, including from English, and are all attested since around 1600. 

The quotation I put at the top of this post is from Voltaire. Following this up took me to Japan, and the Japanese idea of wabi sabi. Here's some more wikipedia

Wabi-sabi (?) represents Japanese aesthetics and a Japanese world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".[2] It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin?), specifically impermanence (無常mujō?), suffering ( ku?) and emptiness or absence of self-nature ( kū?).Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetryasperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.
Wabi-sabi tea bowl, Azuchi–Momoyama period, 16th century
This "wabi sabi" goes some way to explain the Bernard Leach pots I remember seeing in the Tate at ST Ives, Cornwall over thirty years ago, (and in other places since). When I first saw them I thought that they were rather dull, but they've grown on me over time.

Thrown bowl by Bernard Leach
Years ago, we went to a craft fair at Wakefield Place. That's when I tried blacksmithing, and made a thing for holding a garden flare, but that's another story. I also had a go at glazing a raku pot. The potter had made several different designs of pot in advance, and we were shown how to dip them in the glaze and fire them. All tremendously exciting, because, while still red-hot, they were plunged into a container full of wood shavings, or maybe sawdust, which promptly burst into flames and smoke. Then, before they had completely cooled, they were put into a bucket of cold water.

So, the wabi-sabi tea bowl above also appears in the raku pottery entry in wikipedia, with the caption

An Azuchi-Momoyama period (16th century) black Raku-style chawan, used for thick tea (Tokyo National Museum)

Here are our pots (our daughter had a go too; wonder if you remember?). I think mine is the brown bowl, and her's the blue jar, but I'm not sure. I've taken them down from the high dusty shelf, washed and dried them. They are going to look fab upstairs on the bathroom on the bedroom window sill.


So, what started all this reminiscing? Ah yes. "Perfection is the enemy of done". 

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