Japanese Minimalist Aesthetics

“The ancient Taoist scholar Laotse espoused that the true beauty of a room lay in the vacant space enclosed by the roof and walls, rather than the roof and walls themselves. He aspired to an aesthetic ideal of emptiness. True beauty could only be realized in the material world, he held, when it was stripped bare, with only the merest suggestion of color, pattern or texture. The mind, the imagination of the beholder should be allowed to complete the picture in the mood of the moment.” The Japanese House by Noboru Murata and Alexandra Black.

The theory of Japanese architecture and interiors revolve around the idea of what modern day architects would call the minimalist approach. Spaces are visually empty, yet have the atmosphere of wholeness, tranquility and spirituality. The structures made out of wood, bamboo and paper, provide a warm and cozy space. The walls are made, of sliding doors which open into Zen garden, transferring life from nature into the man-made space. Everything within a Japanese home is functional and purposeful.

The beds are not solid and elevated, but the contrary, Futons are the traditional Japanese bedding comprising of a padded mattress, called a shikibuton, a quilt, called a kakebuton, and a pillow filled with beans, called a makura, all of which is pulled out at night to sleep, Folded and stored in sliding door cupboards by day. Not only out of sight, but out of mind. There are small seasonal decorations used as a part of completing the minimalist aesthetic involved in Japanese design, the scroll in the living room alcove changed as the seasons change, the flower arrangement at the entrance marking the arrival spring, etc.

Material and Elements

A few of the materials used to build these spacious, beautiful and peaceful homes are comprised of:

Tatami, the floor covering which is weaved from straw forming matting. It is the key element of any Japanese house because of which the space is called home. The straw used to make Tatami is well suited to the climate of the region as it allows air circulation, and is very soft, warm and welcoming.

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Tatami

Bamboo, is a common feature of the Japanese house, it is used to make the fence around the house thus being the boundary and the connection between the outside and the inside. Thinner form of bamboo, the reed stick is used to make blind, the Japanese form of curtains. The material doesn’t only hold crafts value but also aesthetic value as it gives a smooth, glossy, satisfying surface and also stimulates the artistry of nature.

Paper, In the Japanese home, the play shadow, adds to its aesthetics as it lacks ornaments, making the shadows smooth and contrasting since it grasps walls in its cast.

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Sliding Walls

Wood is perhaps the most precious and a beautiful material to use in building homes and for Japanese houses it is the pride of the home. Pine, Cedar and Cyprus trees are used as the raw wood, which is processed into elegant structures put together to construct fine building.

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Floor Sitting

Stone is a silent part of the interior yet an equally important visual element in the exterior. Stones are used for the landscaping of gardens, for building pathways and in a bigger size could be a centerpiece for a fountain in the garden. When polishes stone has poetic qualities, since it shines in the light and reflect the dim lanterns at night.

 

The Perfect Pen

Art is a word. It is just a three letter word, a sound one makes from their mouths, like every other sound we produce to talk, express or impress. But it is the meanings, the romanticism, the clichés and all the other vast meaning we attach to this word which need to be contemplated. We describe things we don’t understand as art. We label thing we refuse to understand as art. And once we have done that, we attach the idea of madness with the one who forms the art. The artist is widely known as mad and eccentric.

Another way we see art or artist is a person who creates visuals out of paint and brush and other tools. The instruments and gizmos used to create what the eye can see and the mind can name, tools which are used with sheer level of skill to create visuals, so pure and perfect to be named with one’s mind and held with one’s eyes.

But little do we understand that art in itself is a word so fluid, it can be used to appreciate anything and every skill which exists on planet earth and beyond its horizons. But there’s a condition, the idea and skill behind anything called art should be nothing less than the excellent and exceptional.

One of my favorite quotes, from a brilliant movie describes this, and i.e. the idea: “Not everyone can become a great artist, but great art can come from anywhere.” And that is exactly what distinguishes the ordinary from the extraordinary. The ability to take a leap of faith, to think the new, to understand the existing, and to observe the ordinary from a phenomenal, unprecedented angle leading to an excellence of consciousness and instinct together working on producing the “new”.

ART: The Essence of Life

Art come in all forms, from the mother excellent at cooking breakfast pancakes to the painter, who is a master at using his brush, and the writer who uses his pen in the ambition to make a change. The tool, the idea, the conscious, the subconscious, the knowledge and the ignorance; all of it together becomes the perfect pen. And a pen is the agent for recording the essence of life. And that record is ART.

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Empty Souls by Muhammad Ali Bhatti

 

The Statue by Khalil Gibran

Once there lived a man among the hills who possessed a statue wrought by an ancient master. It lay at his door face downward and he was not mindful of it.

One day there passed by his house a man from the city, a man of knowledge, and seeing the statue he inquired of the owner if he would sell it.

The owner laughed and said, “And pray who would want to buy that dull and dirty stone?”

The man from the city said, “I will give you this piece of silver for it.”

And the other man was astonished and delighted.

The statue was removed to the city, upon the back of an elephant. And after many moons the man from the hills visited the city, and as he walked the streets he saw a crowd before a shop, and a man with a loud voice was crying, “Come ye in and behold the most beautiful, the most wonderful statue in all the world. Only two silver pieces to look upon this most marvelous work of a master.”

Thereupon the man from the hills paid two silver pieces and entered the shop to see the statue that he himself had sold for one piece of silver.

 

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Khalil Gibran Museum at Bchare in Lebanon

Hallucinations

Life is supposed to be lived, and not wasted. That’s what everyone says. Yes it is very true it is supposed to be lived, but there are billions of people out there, and everyone has a different way of living it, individual lifestyles. There are articles everywhere telling people and inspiring them on how to live, and make the best out of themselves, but here’s my question, do the people who write these articles really live themselves the lives they teach others to live.

It’s a fantastic organ the brain, it has its secrets, and its weapons (imagination) and its physical and non-existent parts. It is widely known that the average human being only uses about ten percent of it. The not so physical part of our brain is what we call the mind, is that the part which contains our soul? But that is not what I want to talk about here.

It is me I am talking about. I am 19 years old, and I am very disturbed by all the information I have about the ideal life, coming from everywhere, I am sure most of you would agree about all that advice we are given, all the instructions we shall have to obey and all the knowledge we are given to take in, leaves our true minds in horror, and lost in a crowd, we have no idea where to go whom to listen to. It is interesting to note, how much all these institutions play a part in our daily, small decisions. I’m am talking here of the very basic, religion, family, rituals, culture and of course the wide spread internet which leaves all the knowledge of the world hanging around in our jeans.

Over the nineteen years of my life, I have only gained control of my conscious in the past five, but still I have no control over myself. There was a time when seventeen year olds were considered fully grown “adult” men and women, who had no trouble knowing what they want, of course, considering the limitations to information they were given, they had a choice either to rebel or to follow, and when it came to follow, they had only one decision to follow, the words their elders, at a very young age, embedded in their minds.

It seems that as the world’s information has grown infinitely and is now in the pockets of every human being, it has left us, the youth, very confused. We live our mental lives in a different realm every hour, of course, we do end up blaming our hormonal changes, but, really, do you think that is all it is?

It is supposed to be more than that, considering history, where very few people had this problem of not being able to think straight. We, on the other hand, are never able to think straight, we are like children, except that we don’t take pleasure from our imagination, instead we bare it like weight on our shoulders, on our conscience, and at night when we lay on our beds, our mind keeps giving us flashbacks of whatever we had thought and done which wasted our precious moments, and that arises guilt in our throats, blocking our nerves, making us tense, and the only way out is to masturbate to sleep.

Sooner than later this guilt becomes a form of pleasure, and anonymous quotes like, “The worst part about anything that’s self-destructive is that it’s so intimate. You become so close with your addictions and illnesses that leaving them behind is like killing the part of yourself that taught you how to survive.” become a pleasure to the senses, and we calm ourselves down, and instead of curing our illnesses, and trying to get out of the imaginary realm we have created, we end up making it our best of friend, not realizing that we, in our ideation are slowly leaning towards a form of schizophrenia.

Since we are not able to describe this to anyone, we let it take over our lives, and when we are finally ready to step out of this realm and make matters right, that’s when we realize it has been too late. Our conflicts with our past, our parents, our religion, our inner self and our prejudices have consumed and rotted the best part of our lives, and now that we are out of it, it is simply too late. There is no going back in time. Thus another pang of guilt clutches our hearts and vows to our soul:

“Till death do us apart.”