Human Subtlety Will Never Devise an Invention More Beautiful, More Simple, or More Direct


A genius can learn from any small matters

When you can’t catch fish, think it gave you time to think about life. This quote is believed in Japan to be made by Ernest Hemingway. As far as I searched, however, the author seems to be unknown in fact. Does anybody know whose quote this is? Anyway, I often go fishing in the river but am not a serious angler. In most cases, telling the above quote to myself, I just stand by the river, though being a little frustrated deep down inside about getting skunked.

One day, when I daydreamed like that, another genius also came up in my mind. It’s Leonardo da Vinci. He was interested in and studied the flow of the river, and now is revered as a pioneer of fluid mechanics. Needless to say, he is completely different from me blankly staring at the river surface. You can see here what a big difference there is between genius and ordinary people.

It’s beyond human evaluation

Einstein said “Genius is the man of average ability who makes an effort.” It seems the genius (Einstein) may not be able to see the desperate difference between us. Let’s return to the story of Leonardo. He, by the knowledge of fluid mechanics, presumed heart valves were opened and closed by the vortex of blood flow. In fact, his hypothesis was later demonstrated by the 3D-model experiment of fluid mechanics. From the deep insights gained through nature observation like this, the genius said “Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple, or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.”

A wood frame of a dining chair. It's in dark color.

The figures of wood are beautiful inventions devised by nature

Wood has many kinds of figures, such as knags, burls, stripes, quilts, etc. They are unique, and no two are alike, different from human-made material. Our craftspeople are always planning out the ways of cutting wood, combining wood pieces, etc. to show wood figures as beautifully as possible, but some prefer them and some don’t. We hope people become more tolerant to accept them (including wooden furniture) as one of unique and beautiful inventions devised by nature.

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.

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