Why So Curious? #23 | AUG 2021

Why So Curious? #23 | AUG 2021

We are back! 🎊🥳

Finally, after an eternity of hiatus, we have returned.
If you'd like to check out what's new, here's a quick summary of it.
Otherwise, we hope you enjoy this familiar yet new edition of Why So Curious?.

We recommend pairing this issue of the newsletter with:

🎧Uniqlo LifeWear Music #4

This month's little big question:

Is there beauty in solitude?

We miss Disney sea. We are those rare people who visit theme parks alone a lot, we've probably gone there alone more than we have with people. This photo is especially memorable to us because a friend of ours looked at it and could tell that we were alone when we took the image. What about it gave away our state of solitude?

Every month, we'll pose a little big question for you to chew on, and share answers from some awesome people doing interesting things...

Distance, connection and solitude.

The pandemic has made these three things more pronounced, more acute in our everyday lives.

Be it their presence or absence, there's no doubt that we feel these three things more keenly now than we used to. Especially solitude.

For some, the repeated lockdowns meant being subjected to stretches of forced solitude. For others, the lockdown has meant losing precious pockets of solitude.

Because solitude has become such a prominent feature of our everyday life, as avid explorers of the quotidian, it seemed appropriate to dive back into this new season of Why So Curious with this little big question: Is there beauty in solitude?

Whether you're someone learning to make peace with forced stretches of solitude, or someone looking to regain some solitude, there should be something for everyone in this month's edition.

a shallow-dive into excerpts of curious reads we've found

Here at empori, tea has become our primary artistic medium. And because we are working with tea, everything we do inevitably gets related back to tea, in one way or another. This newsletter is no different.

During our research of Teaism, we stumbled upon this lovely book:  

The Flavor of Japanese Tea (日本茶味)

Within its pages, we learned that at the centre of the philosophy of Teaism is "Wabi":

The concept of "Wabi" is a uniquely Japanese principle that is of great importance in traditional Japanese Aesthetics and literature. It is also a core principle in the Aesthetics of Tea Ceremonies.

Wabi is represented using the Kanji character "侘", which depicts a person inside an abode, in hopes to capture the Japanese experience of space, both alone and in the presence of others. Wabi consist of both the principles and ethics of harmonious being and interaction from a comfortable distance in specific, limited spaces; and the aesthetic experience of enjoying loneliness and solitude when being inside an abode, which can also be expanded upon as "the aesthetics of residence".

Wabi is not only about how to endure or even enjoy loneliness in solitude, but also being able to hold onto the sense of solitude even amidst noise and crowd, and in doing so, be able to maintain an elegant distance with others during interaction.

(Yes, Wabi and Sabi are two different concepts. But that's for another time.)

Although the translator of the book calls Wabi the "Aesthetic of Space", we'd like to think of it as the "Art of Solitude".

Wabi crudely summarized is about how we experience being alone in a given space. It's about enjoying the sense of freedom and peace that comes with being alone inside a space that is disconnected from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

So if the term 'art of solitude' did not belie where we stand on the topic of 'Is there beauty in solitude?', this summary probably declares our stance loud and clear.

Yes, we absolutely think that there is beauty in solitude.

We don't just mean that there is beauty in being alone however, because we recognize that 'alone' and 'lonely' are two very different things.

We are saying that even loneliness can be beautiful.

I don't enjoy being lonely, but there is a certain flavor of loneliness, a certain pang of this emotion is that I find comforting and almost achingly beautiful.

This particular flavor of loneliness (for I believe that there are many flavors of loneliness) consists of wistfulness, nostalgia and peace. It usually happens when I am alone, but deeply wish to share that moment with someone. Paradoxically however, I also recognize that the presence of another person will change that moment. I will no longer feel that moment so keenly, so acutely, so deeply in the presence of another. This moment only exists because of my being alone, and is defined by, or at the very least, built on my loneliness. In fact, if I was alone but did not feel lonely, my experience of this moment would be a completely different one.

Because these experiences that are characterized by loneliness are so transient and fragile, I find them curiously beautiful. I suppose there is also beauty in the paradoxical nature of such moments.

It is beauty that I must put in effort to find.

Which leads us back to Wabi.

Finding beauty in loneliness to us feels very Wabi indeed.

Simply being alone at home or being in solitude does not lead to the manifestation of Wabi. The beauty emerges from how we choose to be in the space, how we choose to narrate our experience of being alone.

The beauty of solitude is created by us.

Which is why I prefer to call Wabi, or at least the practice of Wabi the "Art of Solitude".

Aesthetics is just notion, a concept.
But art, art is something we make.
Art is something we do.

And the Art of Solitude is something we can all do.

If you so choose to.

our musings and sharings of little things in life!

Of nightlights and irons

There are some things you only notice when you are truly alone.
Late at night is one of those times when I am truly alone.

And so I notice. There on my nightstand, my IKEA nightlight.
The soft glow of its filaments, casting a warm magical hue on everything around it.

In its light, my iron looks less like an appliance and more like an imposing sculpture in a museum. In its light, my bottle looks less like a drinking vessel and more like a vessel of secrets.

Tonight I am truly alone, and suddenly everything looks a little more magical.

what are libraRIan's top picks in our collection this month? 

Hello there! It's me, libraRIan.
Welcome to my corner of the newsletter where I round up all of artist-ri's newest posts and additions to our humble library for the month.

What's happening in the Library

Monthly Play Things: Cozy Bubbles
The Gist: All the ways you can make cozy bubbles at home.
In this month's Monthly Play Thing, artist-ri has decided to draft a detailed guide on how to liberate your inner-child and create chaos in your home. Because chaos is clearly the antidote to boredom.
Why Home Cafés Don’t Work (for me)
In which we rant about why the whole home café experience thing doesn’t work (for us).
Following which, they then proceed to rant in great detail, why cafés-hopping is irreplaceable. (Which is kind of ironic, after inciting all of you readers to stay home in their previous post...)
Taste Story #4: Rohini White Exotica
A story about the flavors of stars.
Ah finally, something I can recommend to you in good conscience. The (edited) fourth installment of our Taste Story series, featuring one of our favourite white teas and a soothing song pairing.)

PS: If you're receiving this newsletter in your inbox, you're 100% a subscriber. For posts prompting you to log-in, just key in the email you've received this newsletter with and you'll get a log-in link. No passwords required 😉

What's happening IRL: Identi-tea (茶wu語)

You've probably heard us talk about Identi-tea and taste experiences as what we've been busy working on here at empori.

Well, we're glad to share with you guys that Identi-tea is finally out of beta-phase and is officially available for public consumption! 🎉🎉

What is Identi-tea you ask?

Identi-tea is a tea experience where you get to explore how you can use your sense of taste for aesthetic purposes to ultimately find a tea whose flavor profile reflects your unique identity. (Hence Identi-tea, get it?)

If that has piqued your curiosity, you can check it out the experience here.

😎 Tsundoku (積読) Corner
To wrap up, here are some fun reads/things that are completely irrelevant to the topic of beauty and solitude.
Cocktail Science: All About Foams
The head on a pour of Guinness, the crema of a perfectly pulled espresso shot, and the froth from a malted milkshake all add an extra dimension to drinks. Here are some techniques for making foams for cocktails.
Do you like milk foam? Coffee foam? Well then, here are a dozen more ways to make yummy foams. 
We were sold on the words: sonic theatre. But yes, you need more information. They describe their podcasts as "immersive sound worlds, intoxicating blends of music and storytelling, sound design, documentary and fiction." It sounds gorgeous on a pair of good headphones. You're welcome.
Chimken Food Survey — Paw Cat Guide
Market research survey about chimken food by Nya the Pawfessional Cat. Nya loves chimken food and wants to understand if other hoomans and cats like it too. Being a cat influencer, she plans to promote a series of chimken food and would like to understand people’s preferences for cat food (especiall
Before you go, we need your help with one smol thing. As Her Royal Feliness, Nya's Hooman #2, we've been tasked to get as many cats and hoomans to take this Chimken Food Survey. Your help in us satisfying our feline overlord is much appreciated.


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Ri Chang
The intersensory workaholic who has made life their job. Also an artist-padawan...and kind of long-winded. 康復中的工作狂. 正努力練習認真生活