‘We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates… Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.’
This book is in fact a portal. Reading it, you will be led by Junichiro Tanizaki’s light touch into a mysterious and tranquil world of darkness and shadows, where gold flashes in the gloom and a deep stillness reigns. If you are accustomed to equate light with clarity, the faded with the worthless and the dim with the dreary, prepare for a courteous but powerful realignment of your ideas.
In Praise of Shadows is a poetic paean to traditional Japanese aesthetics – in a free-ranging style that moves from architecture to No theatre, and from cookery to lighting, Tanizaki teaches us to see the beauty in tarnished metal, the sombre dignity in unglazed pottery, the primacy of organic materials that bear witness to the regular touch of human hands. It is also astonishingly prescient, offering a gentle warning against the quest for airbrushed perfection, and reminding us that too much light can pollute and obscure our natural world.