major paper 1 final

major paper 1 final - GEW 101 Major Paper#1"In Praise of...

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GEW 101 Major Paper #1: “In Praise of Shadows” Many people favor tradition over change and when it comes to a culture, one might generally throw away tradition in favor of new technology. In “In Praise of Shadows” by Junichiro Tanizaki, he continually argues against his changing culture in favor of preserving the past and tradition, even going as far as to say that traditional Japanese culture is better through comparison, reflecting on the past, and his values. Tanizaki begins his essay with comparing things from his traditional culture to that of a more modern, and western culture. “Compared to Westerners, who regard the toilet as utterly unclean and avoid the even mention of it in polite conversation, we are far more sensible and certainly in better taste” (Tanizaki 337). Tanizaki describes how peaceful the toilet is and how beautiful the surroundings. It seems he values tradition, in the fact that he despises the modern toilet. The Japanese culture seems to be about celebrating the beauty in things and when it comes to a white porcelain toilet, there isn’t much to celebrate. Tanizaki also feels that the traditional Japanese paper is much different from the common paper used today, “Western paper is to us no more than something to be used, while the texture of Chinese paper and Japanese paper gives us a certain feeling of warmth, of calm and repose. Even the same white could as well be one color for Western paper and another for our own” (Tanizaki 341). Again he seems to value tradition. It doesn’t matter how well the item being used functions as long as it has a certain simplicity and beauty about it. Tanizaki greatly appreciates simplicity and all it has to offer from so little, how such a simple thing can have a big impact. Simplicity seems to be one of the biggest things that reoccur in the traditional Japanese culture. For most people nowadays in the Western culture, everything
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needs to be the biggest, the best, the shiniest, and the brightest. Tanizaki talks about a famous restaurant in Kyoto, the Waranjiya, where all the rooms were lit by candle, not electric lights, until recently. He enjoyed having meals at this restaurant because of the simplicity it had, and the aura it created. He also realized that he couldn’t appreciate the beauty of the laquerware without the dim lights. “Lacquerware decorated in gold is not something to be seen in a brilliant light, to be taken in at a single glance; it should be left in the dark, a part here and a part there picked up by a faint light…The sheen of the lacquer, set out in the night, reflects the wavering candlelight,
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major paper 1 final - GEW 101 Major Paper#1"In Praise of...

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