I have seen The Star War. No spoilers from me (not that I believe in them), but you should read up on Kintsugi before you go see it. (If you have seen it, here’s the part of the movie I’m talking about.)
Kintsugi (“golden joinery”), also known as Kintsukuroi “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.
Kintsugi is connected to the Japanese idea of wabi-sabi.
“Wabi-sabi” writes Leonard Koren in Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, “is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.”
Things wabi-sabi “may exhibit the effects of accident, like a broken bowl glued back together again.”
The thing I love the most about Kintsugi is the visible trace of healing and repair — the idea of highlighted, glowing scars.
Often when I am driving around town I will see a car with some sort of exterior damage — a dented bumper, a broken headlight, a torn and dangling side-view mirror — and often after I notice this damage, the car will make some sort of illogical move on the driver’s part that, if I weren’t paying close attention to it, would’ve resulted in my car inflicting the same exact damage to the car.
After these encounters, I’m grateful that the driver didn’t have the visible damage repaired. The damage acted as a warning sign: BEWARE. Not that all these drivers were responsible for their damage, but it is obvious that many of these dented bumpers are a sign of some kind of a blind spot.
I fantasize now about a world in which all body work is carried out with Kintsugi methods.
Humans have scars, too, of course, but the really important scars are often internal and invisible to the naked eye. You can’t tell right away whose soul has just suffered a fender bender. How much easier life would be sometimes if we could see each other’s scars right away, know each other’s blind spots and weaknesses…
If only there were a Kintsugi of the soul!
PS. After I wrote this post, I remembered Kottke’s observation that my wife had kintsugi’d our couch cushions.