A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics

A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics

Donald Richie

Language: English

Pages: 80

ISBN: 1933330236

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This provocative book is a tractate—a treatise—on beauty in Japanese art, written in the manner of a zuihitsu, a free-ranging assortment of ideas that “follow the brush” wherever it leads. Donald Richie looks at how perceptual values in Japan were drawn from raw nature and then modified by elegant expressions of class and taste. He explains aesthetic concepts like wabi, sabi, aware, and yugen, and ponders their relevance in art and cinema today.

Donald Richie is the foremost explorer of Japanese culture in English, and this work is the culmination of sixty years of observing and writing from his home in Tokyo.

Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics & Culture

Wittgenstein: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed)

The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics (Routledge Philosophy Companions)

The Practices of the Enlightenment: Aesthetics, Authorship, and the Public (Columbia Themes in Philosophy, Social Criticism, and the Arts)


















residence. The so garden is decidedly informal and is often found in rural areas around peasant homes. In ikebana a shin flower arrangement is formal, narrow in shape, and ceremonial in position—in the tearoom’s tokonoma alcove, for example. The gyo arrangement has a wider profile and some movement is implied—the use of autumnal leaves for seasonal effect, say. The so flower arrangement is decidedly informal in both its shape and the space it occupies—sometimes ending up in a vase on the wall.

grain still showing and its post perhaps a natural tree trunk. He said he had never heard of a tokonoma in the so manner, as they are simply not made that way, but surely the rudimentary tokonoma of some rustic tea-ceremony hut somewhere might theoretically approach so in its informality. An alternate reading defines shin as shaped by man, so as the natural state, and gyo as both shin and so complementing each other. This is the interpretation adapted in the earliest foreign account of the

Sato Haruo. Discourse on “Elegance” (Furyu no Ron, 1924). Partial translation by Francis B. Tenny. In The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature. Edited by J. Thomas Rimer and Van C. Gessell. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005. Shirane Haruo. Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Meaning, and the Poetry of Basho. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1998. Spence, Jonathan. “The Explorer Who Never Left Home: Arthur Waley.” Renditions, no. 5 (Autumn 1975). Suzuki Daisetz. Zen

from the cow, is a standing objection to the decorative use of this animal.” Consequently, “where the predilection for some grazing animals to fill out the suggestion of the pasture is too strong to be suppressed, the cow’s place is often given to some more or less inadequate substitute, such as deer, antelope, or some such exotic beast. These substitutes. . . are in such cases preferred because of their superior expensiveness or futility, and their consequent repute.” What Veblen here describes

perhaps due to an implied distinction—the sweet and the colorful were for the commoner sort of folk, those lacking the sophistication necessary for the elegant appreciation of the subtle and the unobtrusive, sour and bitter though this taste might seem. Shortly its use was no longer confined to color and design and good taste, but to social behavior in general. Of its implications the aesthetician Yanagi Sotetsu has written: “It is this beauty with its inner implications that is referred to as

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