@Download ì In Praise of Shadows ¾ eBook or E-pub free

The quality that we call beauty must always grow from the realities of life In Praise of Shadows, written by the well known Japanese novelist Tanizaki Jun ichir 1886 1965 in 1933, is a particularly charming and discursive rumination on the differences between Japanese indeed, East Asian and occidental aesthetics among other matters It is also an illustration of the differences between the Japanese tradition of zuihitsu to follow the brush , of which In Praise of Shadows is a moThe quality that we call beauty must always grow from the realities of life In Praise of Shadows, written by the well known Japanese novelist Tanizaki Jun ichir 1886 1965 in 1933, is a particularly charming and discursive rumination on the differences between Japanese indeed, East Asian and occidental aesthetics among other matters It is also an illustration of the differences between the Japanese tradition of zuihitsu to follow the brush , of which In Praise of Shadows is a most worthy modern exemplar, and the occidental tradition of the essay Ranging from toilets to hospitals, from architecture to paper, from writing and eating utensils to cuisine and sweets, from theater to feminine beauty, Tanizaki meditates on the differences, as he sees them, between East and West subdued, tarnished, natural versus bright, polished, artificial the cloudy translucence of jade versus the brilliant sparkle of diamond the flickering half light of the candle versus the steady glare of electric light Tanizaki was a cultural conservative and much preferred old Japan to new Japan you won t find many photos of him in western garb He quite rightly points out that if East Asia had been left to its own devices instead of being forced into the modern age in the nineteenth century, it may have advanced muchslowly but would have invented technology, devices, fixtures much better suited to the aesthetics of its people than the objects it found itself obliged to receive from its benefactors But let Tanizaki speak for himself here is a passage where he draws some of the aesthetic consequences of the contrast between the low, heavy, wide roofs of East Asia and the relatively high, light, small roofs of the West he likens the former to parasols and the latter to caps And so it has come to be that the beauty of a Japanese room depends on the variation of shadows, heavy shadows against light shadows it has nothing else Westerners are amazed at the simplicity of Japanese rooms, perceiving in them nothan ashen walls bereft of ornament Their reaction is understandable, but it betrays a failure to comprehend the mystery of shadows Out beyond the sitting room, which the rays of the sun at best can but barely reach, we extend the eaves or build a veranda, putting the sunlight at still greater a remove The light from the garden steals in but dimly through paper paneled doors, and it is precisely this indirect light that makes for us the charm of the room We do our walls in neutral colors so that the sad, fragile, dying rays can sink into absolute repose The storehouse, kitchen, hallways, and such may have a glossy finish, but the walls of the sitting room will almost always be of clay textured with fine sand A luster here would destroy the soft fragile beauty of the feeble light We delight in the mere sight of the delicate glow of fading rays clinging to the surface of a dusky wall, there to live out what little life remains to them We never tire of the sight, for to us this pale glow and these dim shadows far surpass any ornament And so, as we must if we are not to disturb the glow, we finish the walls with sand in a single neutral color The hue may differ from room to room, but the degree of difference will be ever so slight not so much a difference in color as in shade, a difference that will seem to exist only in the mood of the viewer And from these delicate differences in the hue of the walls, the shadows in each room take on a tinge peculiarly their own Along with all the elements mentioned above, the free floating form ofzuihitsu permits Tanizaki to comment on the complaints of the elderly, street lights, even throw in a recipe for a special kind of sushi I must warn you that there is some remarkable rubbish in this zuihitsu, but there is also eloquent insight into, in some respects, Japanese sensibilities in general and, throughout the text, the sensibilities of one of the most important novelists of the 20th century Oh how he abominates tile, particularly white tile Such as a startling disquisition on why the Asian s prediliction for shadows is a consequence of his not quite perfectly white skin Rating We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates Kage e illustrations Japanese shadow art from the Edo period woodblock print Have you ever stomped on your shadow, trying to hold its torso with your feet The subtle chase between you and the devious shadow toughening with every stomp on the dried grey asphalt while queries of whether you have lost your marbles looming in the humid air Deer praWe find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates Kage e illustrations Japanese shadow art from the Edo period woodblock print Have you ever stomped on your shadow, trying to hold its torso with your feet The subtle chase between you and the devious shadow toughening with every stomp on the dried grey asphalt while queries of whether you have lost your marbles looming in the humid air Deer prancing, jumping rabbits, sluggish turtles and eagles soaring to the sky on a sunlit wall an ecstatic scuffle of shadow animals cheers up the dull wall Emulate the avian hand creation in front of a mirror and observe the beauty of an eagle being dissected into shreds by an illuminated reality, the nimble fingers crumbling in a preposterous sway that had earlier been proudly celebrating the mystified flight of an eagle The beauty of the shadow crumbles into the clarity of a luminous mirror, leaving the tangible fantasy of the hand made animals to die away in sharpness of the vision The softness of an object is highlighted through the shades of darkness its beauty enhanced through an array of radiated nuances, the shadows cultivating a life of their own For as long as my grandfather was alive, one of the bathrooms in our house had an Indian toilet installation that remained intact through several rounds of renovations As much as I despised the functioning of an Indian toilet, my grandfather loathed its English counterpart A man who strictly emphasized on my cursive calligraphy, my domestic and public etiquette, the immaculate English pronunciations and everything that spelled the norms of a Western cultural demeanor, was never able to let go his toilet preferences That was the ultimate defining line that demarcated me and my grandfather standing apart in two different worldsThe novelist Natsume Soseki counted his morning trips to the toilet a great pleasure, a physiological delight he called it And surely there could be no better place to savor this pleasure than a Japanese toilet where, surrounded by tranquil walls and finely grained wood, one looks out upon blue skies and green leavesThrough the words of Soseki, similar quandary when expressed by Tanizaki in his artistic essay brought a flurry of nostalgic shards piercing my psyche comprehending my grandfather s quirks as the establishment of an Indian toilet was the only piece of Indian aesthetic remaining in the Western architectural jungle that adorned the house making it the sole rescue to his old world from the chaos of modernization The solitude of a bathroom toilet is where great literary ideas are born, culturally significant haikus are written, so says Tanizaki and I couldn t agreeA toilet is indeed the most important element of an architectural s The shadows of the past intensify as we age, the dormant beauty exploding actively, flooding the superciliousness of time with melancholic meeknessThe quality that we call beauty, however, must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came to discover beauty in shadows, ultimately to guide shadows towards beauty s ends And so it has come to be that the beauty of a Japanese room depends on a variation of shadows, heavy shadows against light shadows it has nothing else It becomes evident from titular embellishments the thematic conception of this book revolving around the significance of shadows and shades of darkness in Japanese cultural aesthetics For nearly 250 years, although not entirely secluded under the Sakoku policy, Japan still remained culturally aloof from the world until the late 1868 The entry of strange foreign world bringing in their aspect of cultural modernization further propelled the Japanese cultural to staunchly hold on to its ethnicity, culturally and philosophy Even though honoured Japanese authors like Natsume Soseki , Junichiro Tanizaki, et.al were born decades later in aliberated Japanese environment, their literature prospered through the teachings of Zen and conventional Japanese literary and spiritual philosophies Moreover , with the burgeoning aspects of westernization in the early 20th century , Japanese literature orated the quandary of many the Japanese population that were stuck between the modern and orthodox civilization , searching a stable ground for co habitation with the changing times and clutching on to the allies of inhabitation exhibiting a sense of belonging , however temporary Tanizaki dilemma of surviving the bane of modernization while hanging onto the boons of the old Japanese edifying era is articulated through his annoyance of the necessitated usage of heavy electric lightings The peculiarity of shadows through which the beauty of an object excels seems to be diminishing with the onset of modern times Shadows form an integral part of Japanese traditional aesthetic and in the subsequent cyclic philosophy of concealment and revelation through a game of shadows the crucial beauty becomes highly seductive Tanizaki applies this theoretical perception while arguing the essence of shadow through exemplary significance of electric heaters, architecture, theater, food, ceramics and lacquerware, literature, radio, music systems, the intricacies of Japanese way of life in accordance to its populace and even to the extent of comparing a fountain pen to the elegance of a Japanese calligraphy brush swaying gracefully on a boisterous, coarse paper.The minimalist architectural layout of a Japanese room prevailing in the mysterious game of shadows competing with the delicately illuminated rooms and alcove with the sober patterned colours adorning the ashen walls the curious sun peeking through the raw texture of thesh jifilling the old floor lamps with reminiscent shadows The Japanese architectural aesthetic is greatly based on thewabi sabiphilosophical foundation of impermanence and imperfection The simultaneous cyclic light and shadow spirituality ofwabi sabiconveys the universal truth of the cyclical phenomenon of day and night , asserting the transient nature of the universe The wooden pillar withered through the tantrums of changing seasons, ageing into oblivion equates to a wrinkled face, the shadows dwelling the wrinkly creases, augmenting the beauty of the face that has weathered the rambunctious life exemplifying that nothing is permanent, not even the tautness of a youthful skin and yet in those imperfect shadows of ugly deep wrinkles lay an unconventional beauty of perfection The philosophical notion of the universe being created from nothingness and in due course all living organism will disintegrate into the darkness of oblivion, bestows the world of shadows with a spirituality of aesthetic ideals where the humility of imperfection and reticence of impermanence expunge the haughtiness of illuminated perfection The impassive ceramic tiles that adorn the Western components of interior designs will never be able to contest with the mystifying magnificence of the withered wooden interiorsTanizaki reveals his predicament over the use glass doors instead of the traditional sh ji while constructing a house, the eventual costs for the interior designing rising above the limits of monetary assumption because of Tanizaki s stubbornness of installing both thesh ji and the glass door for valid reasons of illumination and security The need for modern element surged from the dire circumstances of an evolving world Tanizaki makes a valid case when he asserts how in order to survive in this transforming cultural avenues, the conventional cultural norms could be well followed if one lived in solitude away from the nitty gritty of the city life This adherence was certainly not possible to those residing and working in the cities.Tanizaki elaborates an interesting debating subject dissecting the fundamentals of Japanese theater, distinguishing the reputable model and modus operandi of Noh and Kabuki revolving around the world of shadows depicting the mysterious aura that surrounds the theatrical performances The silhouette of the Noh mask resting on the curious neck of the stage actor performing the play brings an outwardly mystery to the person behind the mask It is as if you desire to remove the mask off the face exposing the vulnerabilities and apprehension of the actor contrasting that of its stage character And, yet you fear that the rigid revelation would destroy the beauty that lingers for hours after the end of the final act So you decide to sit back and take utter delight in the immaculate performance , the beauty of the Noh enhanced amid the shadows of the mask, its mystery deepening in the crimson flush swept across the underneath skin Tanizaki s affinity toward Noh, becomes evident with his exasperation for the heavily powered Kabuki faces which thrive in a world of sham shrouded with perverted beauty, an art which Tanizaki proclaims to have walked the path from subtle eroticism to overt vulgarity with its distinct charm misplaced in the array of gaudy floodlights The apprehensions of the Noh theatre installing high voltage lightings for the viewing comfort in large auditorium , brings dismay to Tanizaki about the worrisome future of Noh losing its true beauty in such extravagant set up The possibility of the diminishing aesthetical darkness that had once augmented the veiled beauty of Noh into a mystical world of realistic fantasy is feared with raging odds of the regal art being another commonplace theatrical facade The spirit of nationalism takes centre stage as this promising composition connotes the significance of shadows deeply embedded in the Japanese cultural heritage Tanizaki has his comical moments when he equates the affinity of the Japanese philosophies towards darkness to the inheritances of dark black hair of the populace Another humorous anecdote comes up in the afterword penned by Thomas J Harper view spoiler Mrs Tanizaki tells a story of when her late husband decided, as he frequently did, to build a new house The architect arrived and announced with pride, I ve read your In Praise of Shadows, Mr Tanizaki, and know exactly what you want To which Tanizaki replied, But no, I could never live in a house like that There is perhaps as much resignation as humour in that answer hide spoiler Conversely, the detailed description of the fair skin tone becomes ambiguous when looked through a two sided mirror reflecting images of pure aesthetics and subtle racism, each muddling within the shadows of the reader s sanity Yet, analogous to the age old Japanese beautification symbol of blackening the teeth , the dialogue of translucent skin tone varying underneath the perfect amalgamation of shadows and illumination to achieve an unadulterated fairness could be perceived under the lens of a purist aesthetic But, still this aspect goes through scrutiny of a civilized lens of judgments.Eloquently, Tanizaki elucidates the tantalizing aura of Japanese cuisine asserting the glorious food to be a form of meditation He refers to Soseki s literary marvelKusamakurato elaborate on the splendour of Soseki s favourite tea sweetY kanThe sweetened jelly concocted from red bean paste is rather splendid with its semi translucent structure the opaque tinted shadows that hover on this confectionery bring a pleasurable aura to its velvety consistency Similar to Soseki s attraction to the gem like Y kan , Tanizaki dismisses the cream filled chocolates Western product preferring the shadowy weightiness of the yokan The pondering Japanese palate finds luxuries in the delicate flavours of the regional cuisine The perfectly moulded sake soaked vinegar laced rice with a subtle hint of salt beneath a thinly sliced salmon , its aromatic oil spreading in the shadows of a wrapped persimmon leaf Once again, through the enticing bite sized sushi embraced in the green blanket of the persimmon leaf, Tanizaki elaborates the quintessence of minimalism and simplicity rooted in Japanese traditions seeping through its culinary arts Similar to the simplistic country life, the taste of the food is amplified by minimalist arrangement of ingredient deriving the maximum pleasure through its consumption and not being ruined by overcrowding of flavours, like the boisterous crowded city lifeWere it not for shadows, there would be no beautyThe lost radiance of the moon in a heavily lit ambiance now shines fiercely through the dimness of the clouds on a silent night The beauty of the moon is at its best at the darkest of the night Darkness is an indispensable element of the beauty of lacquerware The golden tint engraved into the creative depths of the lacquerware radiation its regal opulence through the maze of shadows.The calligraphy brush elegantly amusing in the black shadows of India Ink disciplines the noisy paper as the fountain pen eagerly look to the embryonic stroke of the character kage shadows , its gray shades discovering the concealed beauty on the dim walls of Japanese literature , arts and legacy @Download » In Praise of Shadows à Librarian note An alternative cover edition can be found hereThis is an enchanting essay on aesthetics by one of the greatest Japanese novelists Tanizaki s eye ranges over architecture, jade, food, toilets, and combines an acute sense of the use of space in buildings, as well as perfect descriptions of lacquerware under candlelight and women in the darkness of the house of pleasure The result is a classic description of the collision between the shadows of traditional Japanese interiors and the dazzling light of the modern age We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty This is a fascinating, surprising, occasionally amusing essay that lauds and explains traditional Japanese aesthetics relating to light and its absence It s applied to architecture, music, writing, the costumes of theatres and temples, women, and food It contrasts Japanese principles with the western ones We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty This is a fascinating, surprising, occasionally amusing essay that lauds and explains traditional Japanese aesthetics relating to light and its absence It s applied to architecture, music, writing, the costumes of theatres and temples, women, and food It contrasts Japanese principles with the western ones that were increasingly influential in 1933, and asks if progress is necessarily good, particularly when it s imported from another culture ImageThe beauty of a Japanese room depends on a variation of shadows, heavy shadows against light shadows that s why there are so few ornaments Source Dark and Light, East and West How different everything would be if we in the Orient had developed our own science It s not just a matter of taste Tanizaki sees the differences arising from the landscape and the people themselves, giving rise to different paths of development a cultural butterfly effect.He explains how the fountain pen, an insignificant little piece of writing equipment , was invented in the west, so there is no brush, no gentle seeping of black ink, and different paper is required It makes writing a viscerally different experience, and its adoption in the east triggered suggestions to replace characters with Roman script, and will inevitably influence the type of literature Japanese writers write Image You can now buy hybrid cartridge filled brush pens Source But I was challenged by the conclusions of this self described Oriental that the fundamental reason for Japanese preference for dark and shadows was skin colour how light plays on Japanese skin which, though pale, is tainted by a slight cloudiness akin to dirt in a clear pool He even empathises with pure blooded whites upset by the sight of those with other skin tones Protect Difference or Accept Hegemony In a broader sense, this is a topical question, nearly a century after it was written How do we balance embracing the richness of other cultures with maintaining the essence of their distinct identities Tanizaki observes fundamental differences between east and west, and he doesn t want to erase them, though he accepts some of the conveniences that come from afar I remember travelling in China in 2008, being struck by how different the fashion and cosmetic ads were compared with my previous trip in 1992 They all used the palest, least Chinese looking models apart from those that used western models It s one thing desiring western products, but wanting to look like a different race is tragic except for the burgeoning cosmetic surgery sector, with specialisms in eye surgery, skin whitening, and even leg lengthening.Darkness to Enhance Other Senses Our cooking depends upon shadows and is inseparable from darkness I once went to a restaurant whose USP was eating in total darkness It was an experience like no other, and flavours were surprisingly hard to identify I relished the novelty, and the enhanced sensations of shape and texture That s not a viable option day to day, but eating innormal low light, and without the distractions of cluttered walls, and background music certainly engages onein the food itself Conversely, too many dinners in front of the TV, where you barely notice what you eat, let alone how much, surely contribute to the obesity problem.Tanizaki is at his most lyrical when writing about aged lacquerware in traditional low light see quotes below Only in dim half light is the true beauty of Japanese lacquerware revealed Imagenishi Isao, a traditional lacquerware craftsman works by candlelight Source Quotes In places, this reads almost like poetry, but is by a novelist who was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964 Jun ichir Tanizaki The Japanese toilet is truly a place of spiritual repose It always stands apart from the main building, at the end of a corridor, in a grove fragrant with leaves and moss No words can describe that sensation as one sits in the dim light, basking in the faint glow reflected from the shoji, lost in meditation or gazing out at the garden Japanese paper gives us a certain feeling of warmth, of calm and repose Western paper turns away the light, while our paper seems to take it in, to envelop it gently, like the soft surface of a first snowfall It gives off no sound when it is crumpled or folded, it is quiet and pliant to the touch as the leaf of a tree We find it hard to be really at home with things that shine and glitter The Westerner uses silver and steel and nickel tableware, and polishes it to a fine brilliance We begin to enjoy it only when the luster has worn off, when it has begun to take on a dark, smoky patina We do not dislike everything that shines, but we do prefer a pensive luster to a shallow brilliance, a murky light that, whether in a stone or an artifact, bespeaks a sheen of antiquity Darkness is an indispensable element of the beauty of lacquerware Traditional lacquerware was finished in black, brown, or red, colors built up of countless layers of darkness, the inevitable product of the darkness in which life was lived In the Gothic cathedral of the West, the roof is thrust up and up so as to place its pinnacle as high in the heavens as possible In the temples of Japan, on the other hand, a roof of heavy tiles is first laid out, and in the deep, spacious shadows created by the eaves the rest of the structure is built Japanese music is above all a music of reticence, of atmosphere In conversation, too, we prefer the soft voice, the understatement Most important of all are the pauses Light is used not for reading and writing or sewing but for dispelling the shadows in the farthest corners, and this runs against the basic idea of the Japanese room So dilute is the light there that no matter what the season, on fair days or cloudy, morning, midday, or evening, the pale, white glow scarcely varies And the shadows at the interstices of the ribs seem strangely immobile, as if dust collected in the corners had become a part of the paper itself I blink in uncertainty at this dreamlike luminescence, feeling as though some misty film were blunting my vision The color of that darkness seen by candlelight It was different in quality from darkness on the road at night It was a repletion, a pregnancy of tiny particles like fine ashes, each particle luminous as a rainbow ThemesAfter reading this, I discovered a different edition labels 16 sections I couldn t actually work out where all the section breaks would go, so I m glad I read it as one continuous piece All the themes are covered, but not solely in this sequence 1 On construction2 The toilet aesthetic3 A different course4 A novelist s daydreams5 On paper, tin and dirt6 Candlelight and lacquerware7 Bowls of broth8 The enigma of shadows9 An uncanny silence10 Reflections in darkness11 Shadows on the stage12 The woman of old13 Beauty in the dark14 A world of shadows15 A cool breeze in total darkness16 Final grumblings In this little book, Junichiro Tanizaki helped me understand why I a thorough Westerner, NYC born bred am so drawn to the Japanese aesthetic He begins his essay with an example I can totally relate to Many Japanese people take pains to hide electrical wires because they don t want to spoil the beauty of the traditional decor I so get this I wish I could hide all my electrical wires too There are so many of them, not to mention all the LED lights from appliances that once were luxuries In this little book, Junichiro Tanizaki helped me understand why I a thorough Westerner, NYC born bred am so drawn to the Japanese aesthetic He begins his essay with an example I can totally relate to Many Japanese people take pains to hide electrical wires because they don t want to spoil the beauty of the traditional decor I so get this I wish I could hide all my electrical wires too There are so many of them, not to mention all the LED lights from appliances that once were luxuries and now are necessities But don t think for a moment that I could part with my computer or my coffee maker I love them I just wish they didn t jar so much with the decor Tanizaki doesn t reject Western conveniences either He just wishes they could have been designed with a Japanese sensibility in mind He thinks that if these same conveniences had been developed by the Japanese, they would bein harmony with Japanese taste But instead of the Japanese making these innovations on their own in their own time, Japan s contact with the West at the beginning of the Meiji era led to rapid modernization in the Western style He thinks that if the Japanese had developed these things, they would be very different from the Western versionsThe Westerner has been able to move forward in ordered steps, while we have met superior civilization and have had to surrender to it, and we have had to leave a road we have followed for thousands of years If we had been left alone we would have gone only in a direction that suited us 8 9 In Praise of Shadows is his tribute to the Japanese aesthetic, to the beauty of darkness, to moonlight rather than sunshine, shadow rather than glare, softness rather than neon His argument is that this aesthetic arose, not from some mysterious national character, but from people s actual way of lifeThe quality that we call beauty, however, must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came to discover beauty in shadows, ultimately to guide shadows towards beauty s ends 18.In the course of the essay, Tanizaki writes of lamps, stoves, toilets yes toilets , pens, paper, glass, lacquerware, ceramics, food, houses, picture alcoves, theater, women, clothing, skin color, and cosmetics He fondly describes the austere beauty of darkness the dreaminess, the softness, the silence, the mystery, the timelessness But it is not only darkness and shadow that the Japanese find beautiful In fact, it is only because of this appreciation of darkness and shadow that the beauty of light and gold can be experienced Gold is garish under the glare of harsh lights, but in a dim room it beautifully reflects the little light that is thereWere it not for shadows, there would be no beauty 30.The simplicity of traditional Japanese decor appeals to me the shoji doors, the tatami mats, the alcove housing an old scroll and a single flower in a humble vase I like the minimalism, the subtlety, the naturalness And I like the night It s slower, quieter, softer than the day Would I like it as much if it were the only thing I knew Maybe not I might be as eager to experience the new, the bright, and the modern as the Japanese were when first introduced to the Western lifestyle But the Japanese aesthetic isn t the one I have always known I am a child of the West, of the bright lights of Times Square and the clamor of Grand Central Station Too much yang Not enough yin For me, the Japanese aesthetic restores the balance In Praise of Shadows is a book about beauty, but there is also a sadness in Tanizaki s praise of shadows He despairs that the Japanese aesthetic is dying because the old way of life is passing away He tells of a moon viewing ruined by all the electric lights And he hopes that something of the traditional beauty and richness of the Japanese aesthetic might be saved in literature at least if no where else His plea touches my heart To lose this world of shadows is to lose something essential to the human spirit Light is good, but too much of it is blinding Sound is good, but too much of it is deafening Activity is good, but too much of it is exhausting There must be balance Without the world of shadows the light soon will overwhelm us and leave us longing for the shadows we have unwisely banished In this delightful essay Junichiro Tanizaki looks at Japanese aesthetics, and selects praise for all things delicate and nuanced, everything softened by shadows, and the patina of age, anything understated and simply natural, for instance the patterns of grain in old wood, the sound of rain falling from leaves, or washing over the footing of a stone lantern in a garden, and refreshing the moss that grows around it, and by doing so he suggests an attitude of appreciation and mindfulness, especial In this delightful essay Junichiro Tanizaki looks at Japanese aesthetics, and selects praise for all things delicate and nuanced, everything softened by shadows, and the patina of age, anything understated and simply natural, for instance the patterns of grain in old wood, the sound of rain falling from leaves, or washing over the footing of a stone lantern in a garden, and refreshing the moss that grows around it, and by doing so he suggests an attitude of appreciation and mindfulness, especially a mindfulness of beauty, a natural beauty that is all around us, that one tends to forget or take for granted.Tanizaki appreciates the world and its ordinary pleasures, and offers a sharp contrast to the functional, plastic, disposable aesthetic of modern western culture Although his aesthetic is associated with a cultural perspective markedly different from western varieties, there is nevertheless something essentially familiar about it It addresses the felt quality of experience in any lived moment, not just as an end in itself but because each such moment belongs to a lifelong series in which beauty and richness of experience are important components of the good life.A tranquil, enchanting, and light read, Tanizaki really opens your eyes, where you just want to take a moment, sit back, relax, and think long and hard about what he is getting across I guess you could look at this as an anti modernist book, that floats with a poetic language over a range of things in a beautiful and evocative way A fascinating insight into another culture, that illuminates the mind into thinking about things from a completely different angle 26 28 The quality that we call beauty must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came to discover beauty in shadows, ultimately to guide shadows towards beauty s ends If you don t have time to read the whole of my review, go ahead and skip the next two paragraphs There is a practice essay prompt in the US College Board s guide to the SAT book that goes something like Do changes that make our lives easier always make them better This is o The quality that we call beauty must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came to discover beauty in shadows, ultimately to guide shadows towards beauty s ends If you don t have time to read the whole of my review, go ahead and skip the next two paragraphs There is a practice essay prompt in the US College Board s guide to the SAT book that goes something like Do changes that make our lives easier always make them better This is one of my favourite prompts, as it captures a real tension It s easier to drive to the supermarket for a loaf, but wouldn t we be better off walking, saving petrol and the money it costs , breathing some fresh air, enjoying the glorious Autumn day and assuming they re in working order stretching our legs Might it not be even better if we used some of the organic whole spelt flour in the cupboard to make real honest to goodness home baked bread Take your frustrations out on an unfeeling lump of dough, save stillmoney, avoid additives and enjoy the fruit of your own labour But we are time poor, we are tempted, we drive to the supermarket after all.Another common experience is sadness as an enjoyable technology is superseded For decades after my mother stopped using her Singer sewing machine it sat in the corner taking up space, its implacable beauty defying anyone to suggest throwing it out.This is Tanizaki s elegy for the aesthetic superiority of vanishing inconvenience and dirt The Japanese house crouches in the deep shadow of its roof, lit by the mournful and meagre glow trickling through its paper walls In this dimness, its simplicity and its natural materials, slowly gathering oily grime and wearing away and thereby growing everbeautiful , make sense they provide the balance and poetry and mystery that make the quotidian details of life so pleasurable Soup served in lacquer bowls so you can t see what s in it properly and chilly outdoor toilets are infinitely preferable, aesthetically speaking, to pale ceramic dishes and sparkling tiles.My point in making light here is that Tanizaki sells it, even if I am repelled by his remarks on skin colour and dubious about the idea of a stable national character A writer who can make me yearn, spine tinglingly, for a wooden outhouse instead of a cosy en suite can only be a genius There is a rich thought here about the subjectivity of experience that is missed by Western aesthetics We plan our lighting for mood, but only for the stage consider how it will create the scene When Tanizaki describes darkness lit by candlelight or the gold costumes of the Noh glowing in dimness, he makes us aware that every banal drama of the day takes its character from its illumination But he makes an even stronger point, a superb, thrilling point how different everything would be if we in the Orient had developed our own science Suppose for instance that we had developed our own physics and chemistry would not the techniques and industries based on them have taken a different form, would not our myriads of everyday gadgets, our medicines, the products of our industrial art would they not have suited our national temper better than they do To take a trivial example near at hand if the fountain pen had been invented by the ancient Chinese or Japanese it would surely have had a tufted end like our writing brush and since we would have found it inconvenient to write on Western paper, something near Japanese paper would have beenin demand Foreign ink and pen would not be as popular as they are the talk of discarding our system of writing for Roman letters would be less noisy Butthan that our thought and our literature might not be imitating the West as they are, but might have pushed forward into new regions quite on their own.This musing of the conservative, aging novelist is not mere nostalgia, letting the old machine linger and sighing uselessly for bygone days, but the wellspring of hope behind decolonisation even the culture shaping tools of science and technology can be remodelled and reshaped the invader can be displaced by new growth surging up from the strong roots of indigenous knowings This is something the Rationalist fails to imagine Sometimes, Tanizaki s melancholic essay surprisingly shows us, radical change begins by going backwards ,,,14 , A delightful essay on the ethos of Japanese aesthetics, its frigid elegance and its ancestral raison d etre Thanks to Tanizaki s unadorned yet carefully layered prose I start to grasp the importance of natural materials like worn out wood or paper lanterns, or the preference for dim lighted rooms and tarnished tableware that lack the aggressive glitter of metal or the aseptic whiteness of tiles of modern houses It s in the musky darkness that shrouds the bare room, devoid of artificial ornam A delightful essay on the ethos of Japanese aesthetics, its frigid elegance and its ancestral raison d etre Thanks to Tanizaki s unadorned yet carefully layered prose I start to grasp the importance of natural materials like worn out wood or paper lanterns, or the preference for dim lighted rooms and tarnished tableware that lack the aggressive glitter of metal or the aseptic whiteness of tiles of modern houses It s in the musky darkness that shrouds the bare room, devoid of artificial ornaments, that the mystery leads to peace and rest.Never had this annoyingly bright screen and the artificial bulb that lights up the sultry room where I am typing these words seemedunappealing or devoid of grace to me.I yearn for the ink and the sturdy paper and the pattern of shadows playing on the Shoji and the warmth of darkness seen by candlelight