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Tanizaki: A Tribute to the Aesthetic Being of Shadows

The article represents a negative-aesthetic reading of the essay of the Japanese writer Junichiro Tanizaki “In Praise of Shadows”, published in 1933, and articulates the meeting of the authentic Japanese aesthetics, imbued with the quietest, most profound and unfathomable beautiful, ‘yugen’, with the expansion of Western aesthetics and idea of the beauty to the East. In order to make visible the finer nuances distinguishing the Eastern from the Western idea of beauty, the structure of the text is circular: (1) the beginning tells about shadows – the heart of Japanese aesthetics (Shadows and place under the sun); (2) the section Place under the sun and home deepens in the specific processual ontology of derivating the Japanese aesthetic being through the individual aesthetic experience; section (3) “Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty”… is dedicated to an immanent reading of Tanizaki’s account of darkness, the texture of light and shadow, and silence as home to the Japanese Homo aestheticus; The heart of Japan (4) substantiates the primary idea of aesthetic unity in the Japanese worldview, without which the existence of shadows in the context of Japanese aesthetics could not be fully understood.
Keywords: Japanese aesthetics, negative aesthetics, aesthetic form, dark, silence, ‘ukeireru’, ‘yugen’, Tanizaki

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