I love my philosophy class. It’s not for everyone, but it’s for me. There’s no other field of study, at least that I’ve encountered, where there are no right or wrong answers if you can rationally back up your point of view. Or where logic and interpretation are both embraced. Or, best of all, where the scope of the field of study, itself, is open to discussion: “What is philosophy?” is a big question in the field of philosophy.
Another reason I love my philosophy class is because we can discuss the difference between artificial and authentic imperfection…and then move onto toilet talk. Allow me to explain:
We’re currently studying the concept of “wabi sabi,” with respect to Japanese aesthetics; “wabi sabi” essentially revolves around the passage of time, simplicity, and such. It’s deeply rooted in zen and Buddhism.
At any rate, we were reading Yuriko Saito’s article “The Japanese Aesthetics of Imperfection and Insufficency” and the author brings up a point that a work of art that was designed to be imperfect is just as spontaneous, and therefore true to wabi sabi, as a work of art that became imperfect through human error or the aging process.
I just don’t believe that. There’s a difference between designing something to be imperfect and not trying to make something perfect; I’ve experienced it firsthand when painting or drawing. I pointed this out to my teacher stating that the author was trying to skew two clearly different approaches. It was pretty cool because a few other students agreed with me, and my teacher was down to change my quiz grade because I got the question wrong as a result of answering from my point of view.
As for the toilet talk, we’re also reading a book called “In Praise of Shadows” and the author makes a point of delineating the grandeur of Japanese toilets.
These aren’t your everyday flushers, guys. They can play nature sounds, they’re made of wood, the temperature of the seat is adjustable, the scent of the stall is adjustable, and…frankly…they sound pretty nice!
Western toilets are very much focused on getting your business done and getting out, but Japanese toilets are like an opportunity to go on a nature walk/meditate in the comfort of your own bathroom.
Did I mention I was eating yogurt while we were discussing these toilets? Actually, Japanese toilets are very clean, so it wasn’t much of a bother.
The only reason I felt a little ripe was because someone brought up German toilets where you do your business on a ledge which swings down into a hole. This allows you to inspect your business before you flush it, so you’re aware of any possible health problems linked to irregular stool. I don’t look before I flush unless the doctor says to.