THE ART OF THE EVERYDAY: A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE
WITHIN WESTERN AND JAPANESE CONTEXTS
Rev Dr Jun Yoshimatsu
The main theme of this dissertation is the aesthetics of the everyday which considered as
a form of pedagogical and spiritual “awakening,” that may be experienced at any moment and by
everyone. This presumes a series of processes and elements that emerge from education,
quotidian experience, and knowledge.
To develop this argument, this study reviews the concept of wabi-sabi and iki in Japanese
aesthetics; relevant elements within Eastern philosophy, Zen Buddhism in particular; Western
philosophies, especially transcendentalism, pragmatism, and existentialism, and Christian
theology. More specifically this study examines the concept of the “everyday” in the works of
Cavell, Emerson, Thoreau, Keene, Kuki, Buber, Danto, Wollheim, and Saito. It touches on
literature, especially the work of Kenko Yoshida, Kamo no Chomei, Blake, Coleridge, and
Wordsworth as these embrace aspects of the everyday. Along with the philosophical reflection
of the everyday, this study also revisits several artists, including Caravaggio, Duchamp, Long,
Goldsworthy, Haring, Hesse, Pollock, Rembrandt, Renoir, and Vermeer. Their work exemplifies
a journey that this study consider as being “spiritual” and which travels between evanesce and
the eternal, from contingency to perfection, as a form of quotidian self-awakening.
Central to this study is a discussion of the tea ceremony as a specific “praxis” of the
aesthetics of the everyday. As an exemplar of wabi-sabi the tea ceremony reflects various
concepts and teachings in Zen Buddhism. It requires self-discipline and continuous dedication
through a program of lessons with a master. This also presents a practical approach to art
education as a form of disciplined study. However, this must not be read as a rigid model, but as
one of many approaches to one’s own philosophy of art education.
This dissertation concludes with a discussion of the Naoshima Art Project in Japan as a
new art-community development. The Naoshima project is a very good example of art’s
embedding within the everyday, where many artists, art educators, business corporations, and the
residents of the island fully participate in, transforming the whole island into a new artcommunity
in everyday life.