Shadowy irony シ
Recently I’ve read a quite interesting essay: Junichiro Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows.
In the link above there’s this commentary, written by someone from (supposedly) Harvard: « Tanizaki captures in an amusing, flowing commentary on beauty, architecture, drama, food, feminine beauty, and many other aspects of Japanese life the uneasy mixing of two clashing esthetic traditions. »
Reading the descriptions of this essay I was very enthusiastic to get my hands on a copy.
Alas, my deception was great: this is, really, an ironical essay. Sometimes I can just hear the author laughing at me. At one point he was going on about how the eastern soul is very profound, it longs for eternity in its aesthetics. And, on the same instant, he goes on to say that another way to say this is that the eastern soul likes dirty objects.
Even in the very structure of the essay, there’s a certain irony: it starts considering the toilet, and it ends with a sushi recipe — inverting the normal order of things.
Anyway, my critique is (also) a bit tongue in cheek, but I don’t think the author is entirely dishonest (or completely ironic). There is something true hiding in the background — and perhaps here is another way of using shadows: not saying it plainly, but hiding what one wants to say. I can’t really pierce clearly through the text, but I believe the author is articulating a non-chauvinistic traditionalism.