Sunday, February 17, 2013

In Praise Of Shadows

A friend [thanks Tina] suggested this book In Praise Of Shadows by Tanizaki, to me earlier in the week and it's a gem. It's an essay on the Japanese sense of beauty, on all things nuanced, glimpsed at, softened by age and shadows, understated, a quality of silence and fullness. Here is what he says about a room. “Whenever I see the alcove of a tastefully built Japanese room, I marvel at our comprehension of the secrets of shadows, our sensitive use of shadow and light. For the beauty of the alcove is not the work of some clever device. An empty space is marked off with plain wood and plain walls, so that the light drawn into its forms dim shadows within emptiness. There is nothing more. And yet, when we gaze into the darkness that gathers behind the crossbeam, around the flower vase, beneath the shelves, though we know perfectly well it is mere shadow, we are overcome with the feeling that in this small corner of the atmosphere there reigns complete and utter silence; that here in the darkness immutable tranquility holds sway.” 



And another paragraph I love. “With lacquer ware there is an extra beauty in that moment between removing the lid and lifting the bowl to the mouth, when one gazes at the still, silent liquid in the dark depths of the bowl, its colour hardly differing from that of the bowl itself. What lies within the darkness one cannot distinguish, but the palm senses the gentle movements of the liquid, vapour rises from within, forming droplets on the rim, and the fragrance carried upon the vapour brings a delicate anticipation ... a moment of mystery, it might almost be called, a moment of trance.”



Here is a link to a PDF version [link here] or you can order the book from Amazon [link here]

8 comments:

  1. What a coincidence, I read the book just a couple of weeks ago and loved it. I kept going back to re-read certain passages or even pages. While praising the shadows, it is so 'enlightening'.

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    1. Isn't that fun when coincidences happen Ersi ,Like you I keep going back to certain passages, the writing is beautiful.

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  2. one of my favourite books which my tutor recommended to me and which I keep returning to

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    1. I think it's one of my favourites too Esther, don't know how I missed it before but am so glad Tina recommended it!

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  3. An interesting shadow for you...

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UR5RrFyS1gw/TvFiA7bfDlI/AAAAAAAAJus/pYDMxkNMGyw/s1600/IMG_1905-75.jpg

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    1. Great photo Connie, and great cat. Mine used to spend most of their time sprawled in the sunshine.

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  4. thank you for sharing your process with these beautiful thoughts behind the photos & the link to this book in praise of shadows

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    1. Thanks for your comment Mo Crow and you are most welcome.

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I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.