The Plastic Brain


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Someone once remarked that thin silk was not satisfactory as a scroll wrapping because it was so easily torn. Tona replied, “It is only after the silk wrapper has frayed at top and bottom, and the mother-of-pearl has fallen from the roller that a scroll looks beautiful.” This opinion demonstrated the excellent taste of the man. People often say that a set of books looks ugly if all volumes are not in the same format, but I was impressed to hear the Abbot Koyu say, “It is typical of the unintelligent man to insist on assembling complete sets of everything. Imperfect sets are better.”

In everything, no matter what it may be, uniformity is undesirable. Leaving something incomplete makes it interesting, and gives one the feeling that there is room for growth. Someone once told me, “Even when building the imperial palace, they always leave one place unfinished.” In both Buddhist and Confucian writings of the philosophers of former times, there are also many missing chapters. (82)

Essays in Idleness
The Tsurezuregusa of Kenko
translated by Donald Keene
http://reader.homestead.com/idleness.html

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