Archive for the ‘Reading List’ Category

READING LIST: IN PRAISE OF SHADOWS BY JUN’ICHIRO TANIZAKI

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

in_praise_of_shadows

From the foreword:  One of the basic human requirements is the need to dwell, and one of the central human acts is the act of inhabiting, of connecting ourselves, however temporarily, with a place on the planet which belongs to us, and to which we belong. This is not, especially in the tumultuous present, an easy act (as is attested by the uninhabited and the uninhabitable no-places in cities everywhere), and it requires help: we need allies in inhabitation.

Fortunately, we have at hand many allies, if only we call on them; other upright objects, from towers to chimneys to columns, stand in for us in sympathetic imitation of our own stance. Flowers and gardens serve as testimonials to our own care, and breezes loosely captured can connect us with the very edge of the infinite. But in the West our most powerful ally is light. “The sun never knew how wonderful it was,” the architect Louis Kahn said, “until it fell on the wall of a building.” And for us the act of inhabitation is mostly performed in cahoots with the sun, our staunchest ally, bathing our world or flickering through it, helping give it light.

It comes with the thrill of a slap for us then to hear praise of shadows and darkness; so it is when there comes to us the excitement of realizing that musicians everywhere make their sounds to capture silence or that architects develop complex shapes just to envelope empty space. Thus darkness illuminates for us a culture very different from our own; but at the same time it helps us to look deep into ourselves to our own inhabitation of our world, as it describes with spine tingling insights the traditional Japanese inhabitation of theirs. It could change our lives.

-Charles Moore, School of Architecture UCLA