Books that try to “explain” Japanese ability to others tend to abatement into one of two camps. Either they try to banknote in on the latest zeitgeist, a quick fix for fatigued Westerners attractive for self-help with a appearance of the alien — Marie Kondo, ikigai (reason for living) et al. — or they present apparent representations of otherness, agilely bearded Orientalism packaged as a coffee table book.
Zen in Japanese Culture, by Gavin Blair.208 pagesABBEVILLE PRESS, Nonfiction.
Gavin Blair thankfully plots a third aisle in his accomplished book. Gorgeous photos of temples, area and abiding flowers are present, but are accurately there to allegorize the point he is authoritative about how the spirit of Zen has alloyed Japanese aesthetics throughout history. Blair’s black but active book altogether matches the accountable amount as he delves into calligraphy, origami and aggressive arts. His access avoids the pitfalls of cultural tourism and instead enlightens aspects of Japanese ability accepted alone apparently by most. His blasting of wabi-sabi aesthetics — a criterion actuality — is, for once, bright and concise.
The affiliate absorption on how Zen aesthetics accept translated into avant-garde abstruse art is decidedly alluring but additionally serves to highlight a absent opportunity, or conceivably a catechism unanswered: How abundant is Zen still present in Reiwa Japan? The architectonics advised is traditional, the temples ancient, the bonsai timeless. How about avant-garde housing? Less classical art forms? Sport even?
This book serves both as exculpatory addition and a relaxing, attentive adviser through Japanese aesthetics and, like all acceptable books, suggests abounding paths for approaching study.
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