In Praise of Shadows


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Change country. Log out. Save this article. Share in Whatsapp. About this author. Sebastian Jordana. See more: News Articles The Indicator. Read comments. In addition to contrasting light and dark, Tanizaki further considers the layered tones of various kinds of shadows and their power to reflect low sheen materials like gold embroidery, patina and cloudy crystals.


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In addition, he distinguishes between the values of gleam and shine. The text presents personal reflections on topics as diverse as architecture and its fittings, crafts, finishes, jade , food, cosmetics and mono no aware the art of impermanence.

Tanizaki explores in close description the use of space in buildings, lacquerware by candlelight, [1] monastery toilets [3] and women in the dark of a brothel. The essay acts as "a classic description of the collision between the shadows of traditional Japanese interiors and the dazzling light of the modern age". Tanizaki's observations include cultural notes on topics such as arts and crafts, paper making, lacquerware design and the Japanese room. He gives a recipe for the unusual dish of Persimmon leaf Sushi on pages 60 to He also refers to many historic places and temples, as well as celebrated eateries of the day, along with customs like "moon-viewing" tsukimi.

Among the historic and contemporary individuals mentioned in the essay are: [5]. The work has been praised for its insight and relevance into issues of modernity and culture, [6] and Tanizaki has been called an "ecological prophet". Grayling has described Tanizaki's essay on Japanese taste as a "hymn to nuance" and an exercise in mindfulness. Junichiro Tanizaki selects for praise all things delicate and nuanced, everything softened by shadows and the patina of age, anything understated and natural—as for example the patterns of grain in old wood, the sound of rain dripping from eaves and leaves, or washing over the footing of a stone lantern in a garden, and refreshing the moss that grows about it — and by doing so he suggests an attitude of appreciation and mindfulness, especially mindfulness of beauty, as central to life lived well.

In the spirit of Tanizaki juxtaposing the cultures of east and west, Grayling notes a link to a similar approach and emphasis in the British writer Walter Pater whose late Renaissance essay he quotes, "The service of speculative culture towards the human spirit is to rouse, to startle it to a life of constant and eager observation". Grayling concludes that the difference between the two essayists lies in the "tranquility" of Tanizaki and the "intensity" of Pater.

In Praise of Shadows Unabridged Show recording details.

Rereadings: AC Grayling on In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki

This item is temporarily unavailable. Were it not for shadows there would be no beauty. Through architecture, ceramics, theatre, food, women and even toilets, Tanizaki explains the essence of shadows and darkness, and how they are able to augment beauty. He laments the heavy electric lighting of the West and its introduction to Japan, and shows how the artificial, bright and polished aesthetic of the West contrasts unfavourably with the moody and natural light of the East.

Notes Were it not for shadows there would be no beauty.

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