Thursday, January 03, 2008

Donald Richie's "Tractate" in Metropolis, The Japan Times, and the Ang Lee interview in Sight and Sound

Donald Richie's newest book, A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics, is turning heads left and right. In The Japan Times, Michael Dunn writes that "there must be a lot more to Japanese culture and how it is perceived than is immediately apparent. Indeed there is, and Richie helps us more than anyone else has before in the English language, by explaining many of the essential aesthetic concepts needed for understanding and appreciation."

C. B. Liddell, in Metropolis, remarks that in the book, "Japanese aesthetics are revealed as the product of [a] social competitiveness, of the desire to find yet more subtle shades of meaning and beauty than the next guy."

And Nick James, in his interview with director Ang Lee in this month's Sight and Sound, works the "Tractate" into an interview question: "There's a beautiful little book by Donald Richie that explains Japanese aesthetics. I wish there was an equivalent for the Chinese," he says. This was picked up on the City of Sound blog, with some interesting comments, including one by influential composer Paul Schutze. Check out the discussion here.

With Richie's highly anticipated new book of travel writing, Travels in the East, coming to bookstores in a few weeks, there couldn't be a better time to celebrate his writing!