Friday, April 30, 2010

In Praise of Shadows...

in praise of shadows junichiro tanizakiI used to work at a little Irish pub in the Lower East Side. The interior was dimly lit, with the only sources of illumination accredited to the dirty yellow light of sodium street-lamps filtered in through panes of warbled glass and miniscule tea light candles swallowed up by booths or extinguished by spilled beer. With each passerby, the shadows danced and flittered wildly. Sometimes, when there weren't many customers, I would take out my big black sketchbook, lay it down and trace the lines of the shadows.

One of the regulars saw me doing this. He got up, said he'd be right back and disappeared. For a second, I thought he had left without paying his bar tab. But eventually he returned and with a beat up copy of a thin paperback. He passed it over to me and said, "I think you should read this."

And I did. The book was Jun'ichiro Tanizaki's In Praise of Shadowsin praise of shadows. It's an essay written about the opposition of traditional shadows of Japan and the stark brightness of the modern age. It's a sweeping essay that touches on everything from architecture, to bathrooms, to lacquer. It made me acutely aware of the depth and dimension of shadows. I think this is a must read for all creative types.

6 comments:

mairedodd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mairedodd said...

sounds terrific! what brought it to mind again? (other comment deleted because i thought i could type with one hand... didn't work out!)

Andrew Thornton said...

The self-portrait from earlier. But I think about this book often.

Cyndy Dee Lite said...

Hi Andrew. Just dropping a note to let you know I've been enjoying your blogs. Although I'm not nearly as active online as I was a few years ago nor as prolific in my commentaries, I do leave one now and then so be advised ...I will be lurking and larking about in the shadows. Which calls to mind Carl Jung's concept of "The Shadow" which you're no doubt familiar with and may, in some way, relate to your interest in them. Cheers.

Andrew Thornton said...

Hey Cyndy Dee! Thanks for stopping by. I am familiar with Carl Jung's concept of the archetypal Shadow. It reminds me a lot of Freud's ID, but with a "physical" manifestation and a recognizable iconography. I also like how Jung sees the shadow as the source of creativity. I think most creative people deal with the ideas of the shadow and keeping things balanced.

kvk said...

Finally! Good heavens - I can't believe this post was April 30th! I've been wanting to say HI and post a comment here or there, but haven't allowed myself much time for on-line stuff.

You've been busy! Beautiful new work - which reminds me... if you let fear grab hold of you, it's extract. So glad you're taking the brave route. Focus on attracting the good stuff and the riff raff will fall by the wayside.

But the real reason I'm here - thanks for the reminder about this book. It's been on my shelf for years and I think it will be a perfect companion on my vacation - we leave for Provence Friday!

Blessings to you my friend - be bold and mighty forces will come to you aid (paraphrasing of Geothe)