An Artist of the Floating World

‘I have learnt many things over these past years.  I have learnt much in contemplating the world of pleasure, and recognising its fragile beauty.  But I now feel it is time for me to progress to other things.  Sensei, it is my belief that in such troubled times as these, artists must learn to value something more tangible than those pleasurable things that disappear with the morning light.  It is not necessary that artists always occupy a decadent and enclosed world.  My conscience, Sensei, tells me I cannot remain forever an artist of the floating world.’

from Kazuo Ishiguro “An Artist of the Floating World”

In Praise of Shadows

Why should this propensity to seek beauty in darkness be so strong only in Orientals The West too has known a time when there was no electricity, gas, or petroleum, and yet so far as I know the West has never been disposed to delight in shadows.

from Junichiro Tanizaki “In Praise of Shadows”(Translated by Thomas Harper and Edward Seidensticker)IMG_1488.jpg

In Praise of Shadows

Every time I am shown to an old, dimly lit, and, I would add, impeccably clean toilet in a Nara or Kyoto temple, I am impressed with the singular virtues of Japanese architecture. The parlor may have its charms, but 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. The novelist Natsume Sōsekicounted 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 leaves.

from Junichiro Tanizaki “In Praise of Shadows”(Translated by Thomas Harper and Edward Seidensticker)


Beyond Good and Evil

217.  Let us be careful in dealing with those who attach great importance to being credited with moral tact and subtlety in moral discernment!  They never forgive us if they have once made a mistake before us (or even with regard to us) – they inevitably become our instinctive calumniators and detractors, even when they still remain our “friends.” – Blessed are the forgetful: for they “get the better” even of their blunders.

from Friedrich Nietzsche “Beyond Good and Evil (Translated by Helen Zimmern)”

Tea: The Drink That Changed the World

The tea ceremony also provides an opportunity to practice being in accord with nature and to feel a harmony with the seasons. A love of nature, the ancients believed, is the basis for awakening an appreciation of beauty and, therefore, of art.

from Laura Martin “Tea: The Drink That Changed the World”