Thursday, February 18, 2010

Floating

The Old Head has gone into hibernation. It's all a blah, but then again, I did try to use every minute in Japan observing and absorbing new ideas, and not just visually, but by reading and watching docos and taking notes, so the OH had a really good workout.

Yesterday, I couldn't get out of bed until 10.30AM, and if that wasn't bad enough, today it was nearly noon when I peeled myself off the mattress.

I feel like inside my head, I'm standing in the middle of a wide road. There are no cars, but lots of pedestrians - you know how they block roads for festivals and such? And this road has fabric shops, notions shops, galleries, bookshops, stationary shops, used book shops, art supply shops, and nicnac shops all around.... Bakeries, chocolate shops, jewelers and don't forget a dainty hat shop. And people are dressed in interesting colorful clothes.... And I'm standing in the middle as if time has stopped for me, but not for others... I'm gazing at what's going on all around, the colors, the shapes, and the sun and the shade.... My eyes stop to look at one Thing, and before that Thing registers, they move to another Thing of interest...

I can't concentrate, but I'm not distracted. I'm just soaking it all in.

I don't want to work on my photos just yet; they will make me concentrate on certain Things and I want my eyes to keep floating.

However, I must share some nice finds before I forget. In between the lovely HAND/EYE magazine, (and I mean the hard copies which arrived while I was away) were:
  • It turns out India visited Amuse Museum in Asakusa, Tokyo, last Thursday and Mom and I, Friday. It's a new museum well worth a visit as they packed a lot of interesting stuff in small spaces, but not too packed. Their young staff were surprisingly well-informed, (though I don't know how multi-lingual they are), and we're allowed to photograph anything and touch some of the exhibits, which is rare in Japan. They have a special relationship with Anthropologist Tanaka Chuzaburoh, who has a massive collection of folk anything, mainly from Aomori Prefecture, (northeastern Honshu Island), particularly from the old Tsugaru region. Asakusa neighborhood of Tokyo is visitor-friendly.
And then there's the Taisho Era (1912-1926) of Japan. I discovered many Japanese painters I like flourished between the two wars. I knew this was true of writers, poets and publishers, in their work and their scandalous so-called private lives, (many ending up with tuberculous and dying young,) but I didn't know much of visual artists. During this time, hideous working conditions of young women in spinning mills among other things prompted labor movement, women worked towards suffrage (1925), but the mood was surprisingly buoyant and the populous enjoyed what they called Taisho Democracy, democracy being a strange and wonderful foreign concept. A quirky sense of humor, represented best by novelist Natsume Sohseki and essayist Uchida Hyakken, emerged.

I'm not sure what happened during the Great Depression in Japan, but the period between teh two wars is worth looking into, not only in Japan, but in arts around the world.

EDIT: The big earthquake hit Kanto region in 1922. Japanese Wiki says the Great Depression decimated Japanese economy, and makes a particular mention of the stoppage of spun yarns, (I suspect silk??) to the USA. The entry alludes to the subsequent invasion of Asia, Manchuria in particular, as purely financial, and though the path to WWII was similar to Germany, the entry claims ours was less racially/ideologically motivated. Though ideology was not at the forefront, I personally think Japanese racial superiority, (we are the children of Emperor the God, remember?) had much to do with it.

Compared to the first half of the 20th century, the period between WWII, particularly post-1964 Tokyo Olympics, up to this recession which started around 1992, was amazingly peaceful and prosperous. I really should read more Japanese history.

2 comments:

  1. isn't it curious how we make tracks around the whirled and the footprints overlap from time to time

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  2. Yes, but in this particular instance, I wished yours had stomped on right on top of me in Asakusa!

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