2 November 2009

Against Perfection And Uniformity



“Some affirm that a set of books which is not bound uniformly is unsightly ; but Archdeacon Kōyu says, ‘Things which are made all exactly the same are doubtless the work of those who have but little taste ; ’tis better to have dissimiarity’ ; and he is certainly right.
Generally speaking, uniformity in anything at all is bad ; it is better to leave a little imperfection, and thereby your life (being more natural) will be prolonged. There are some who say that when a palace is being built, you should never fail to leave one little piece of it uncompleted.”

(Excerpt from the 14th Century Japanese text Tsurezuregusa, or ‘Essays in Idleness’ by Yoshida Kenkō. The same text was quoted in a recent TED talk on symmetry, held by Oxford mathemetician Marcus du Sautoy.)