While trying to understand the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi, a friend introduced me to the concept of Yūgen, another important concept of traditional Japanese aesthetics. It suggests that which is beyond what can be said.
The term is first found in Chinese philosophical texts, where it has the meaning of “dark,” or “mysterious.”
Kamo no Chōmei, the author of the well-known Hōjōki poetry, wrote of yūgen: “It is like an autumn evening under a colorless expanse of silent sky. Somehow, as if for some reason that we should be able to recall, tears well uncontrollably.” Another characterization helpfully mentions the importance of the imagination: “When looking at autumn mountains through mist, the view may be indistinct yet have great depth. Although few autumn leaves may be visible through the mist, the view is alluring. The limitless vista created in imagination far surpasses anything one can see more clearly” (Hume, 253–54).
And so I come to the "limitless vista of the imagination" and its mysterious quality. As artists and appreciators of art, these concepts are not new. Yet the beauty of the imagination is that it is infinite and constantly changing. By embracing it, we are giving life to art every step pf the way...