By Donald Richie
This provocative publication is a tractate—a treatise—on good looks in eastern artwork, written within the demeanour of a zuihitsu, a free-ranging collection of principles that “follow the brush” anyplace it leads. Donald Richie seems to be at how perceptual values in Japan have been drawn from uncooked nature after which transformed through dependent expressions of sophistication and flavor. He explains aesthetic suggestions like wabi, sabi, conscious, and yugen, and ponders their relevance in artwork and cinema today.
Donald Richie is the most important explorer of eastern tradition in English, and this paintings is the fruits of sixty years of staring at and writing from his domestic in Tokyo.
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Extra resources for A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics
There is no entry for nipplelike, but the deﬁnition for nipple brings over protuberance, breast, udder, the female, milk, discharge, mouthpiece, and nursing bottle, but again not mastoid, nor 52 / The Language of Inquiry temporal, nor time, bone, ear, space, or word. It is relevant that the exchanges are incompletely reciprocal. and how did this happen like an excerpt beginning in a square white boat abob on a gray sea . . tootling of another message by the hacking lark . . as a child to the rescue and its spring .
Part of the reading occurs as the recovery of that information (looking behind) and the discovery of newly structured ideas (stepping forward). In both My Life and “Resistance,” the structural unit (grossly, the paragraph) was meant to be mimetic of both a space and a time of thinking. In a somewhat different respect, time predetermines the form of Bernadette Mayer’s Midwinter Day. The work begins when the clock is set running (at dawn on December 22, 1978) and ends when the time allotted to the work runs out (late night of the same day).
These areas of conﬂict are not neatly parallel. Form does not necessarily achieve closure, nor does raw materiality provide openness. Indeed, the conjunction of form with radical openness may be what can offer a version of the “paradise” for which writing often yearns—a ﬂowering focus on a distinct inﬁnity. For the sake of clarity, I will offer a tentative characterization of the terms open and closed. We can say that a “closed text” is one in which all the elements of the work are directed toward a single reading of it.
A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics by Donald Richie