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. THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF FOREIGNERS: The one who visits the holiest zen garden and sees nothing but a dirty pond, a bit of gravel, and. A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics by Donald Richie, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide.

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Stone Bridge Press,79 pp.

Indeed there is, and Richie helps us more than anyone else has before in the English language, by explaining many of the essential aesthetic concepts needed for understanding and appreciation. For this he gleans from tgactate variety of Western and Japanese sources, accumulating his pensees on the understanding of beauty into this thought-provoking treatise structured in the tracctate of a zuihitsu — the traditional Japanese, free-ranging assortment of ideas that follows its own intuitive direction.

Proceeding to apply his six decades of experience trctate Japan, Richie then games intelligently to clear the mist surrounding those indefinable perceptions of taste and beauty, and bring them into some sort of focus for those who are fascinated but often mystified by Japanese culture. Japanese aesthetic values were much shaped by both Buddhism, and the once sublime nature, and as examples we see impermanence like that of cherry blossoms, and asymmetry tradtate is apparent in nature.


In the Japanese mind, such aesthetic considerations reflect not only a keen observation of natural surroundings and the passing of the seasons but link to the belief in the cycle of reincarnation.

A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics by Donald Richie

For Japanese, one of the most compelling aspects of beauty is the bitter-sweet awareness that it is only transient and always dies. Some of the more obscure aesthetic concepts already embedded in Japanese consciousness can be sensed in early poetry, but were only codified during the Muromachi Period with the pervading influence of Zen and the artistic values of the tea ceremony.

Shibui restrained, understated, darksabi worn, patinatedwabi lonely, abandoned, beauty born of poverty are discussed with revealing examples. Even the illusive yugen barely glimpsed mystery and depth — much-associated with noh theater — is considered here at the far end of the spectrum, opposite to furyu elegant and refined. After carefully digesting this tractate, one is likely to arrive at the disquieting realization that much of what one reads about Japanese culture in English is purely left-brain stuff and is of little use unless one is able to draw on the far greater depths of subjective perception.

Even Japanese today often get their own traditional culture woefully wrong as can be seen in almost all the museum exhibits that are illuminated from overhead light sources my own personal bleat by which art was neither seen nor ever even envisaged by its creators.

For those whose aesthetic ideal is found in a perfectly centered clock between two exactly spaced candlesticks on the mantelpiece, and matched porcelain, sets of glasses, or a parterre garden, quite a shift in perceptive gears will be needed.


A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics : Donald Richie :

He presumes that his readers are able not only to think for themselves, but also intuit the subtleties of Japanese aesthetic sensitivities clarified in his concise prose. It provides essential and profound reading for anyone having even a passing interest in Japanese culture, and is small, portable, and affordable enough for ever-present reference.

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