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Embrace the dark side!
on 11 July 2007
This book has a foreword from someone at UCLA's School of Architecture - so perhaps that is a clue to where it is aimed.
Tanizaki makes a good argument that Japanese art (eg, lacquerware, calligraphy, gold statues, no and kabuki, etc.) cannot be best appreciated in bright, white and shiny surroundings, which he characterizes as Western. He prefers a natural diffused light, softer colours and the 'wear and tear' of wasi-sabi.
At this point in his life Tanizaki (1933) had turned against Western influence, so this is really "In Praise of All Things Japanese!" He does stray from his subject and ramble on like a 'Grumpy Old Man,' which he admits. Partly nostalgia - for he is really railing against the Japanese who had already embraced the 'bright lights' of the West, I'd say he crosses the politically correct line several times and made me feel uncomfortable.
Nevertheless, Tanizaki offers us a valuable link to a rich past, and there is still much we can learn from there. Like how a setting can enhance or destroy our appreciation of an object, a person or theatre. Or, why we should not be afraid of the dark!