japonisme: 6/7/09 - 6/14/09

13 June 2009

that one, by herself

picture this guy naked. oh-- you'd rather not? that's understandable, and it's also, well, predictable. when are you going to see a guy naked having a picnic?

well, okay, but what about these? they're courtesans, after all. nope. you might see their private bits every now and again, but lying there nude? ain't gonna happen.

until just very recently, you will only see rosy behinds and billowy taa-taas on western women. does this demean us, exalt us, show us as stronger, or weaker? i honestly don't know.

Ueda Akinari

sakura zakura chirite kajin no yume ni iru

Cherry blossoms fall
Entering into the dreams
Of lovely women.

Tr. Blake Morgan Young 1


hitori na wa waga hoshi naran ama [no] kawa

that one by itself
is my star...
Heaven's River

This haiku refers to a popular belief that each person upon birth is assigned a corresponding star in the heavens.
"Heaven's River" refers to the Milky Way.

year unknown

hasu no ka ya hirune no ue wo fuki meguru

over my midday nap
the scent of lotuses
meanders 2

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08 June 2009

the california japonist

pomegranate is doing something very important. quite simply, they are illuminating, with appropriately jewel-like books, the era of printmaking, in this country and in japan, of the last century.

we have al- ready looked at pomegranate's new books of shin hanga; this time we look at their new, beautiful, book about william seltzer rice.

rice was the quintessential california printmaker; every one of his prints rings true in the hearts of we californians who live and breathe life here -- rice lives in that place of the heart.

while he would go on to publish books about block-printing himself, in the beginning the teachings and books of arthur wesley dow had a major influence on him.

his own initial contact with japanese prints came at the panama-pacific international exposition in san francisco in 1915. after having spent so much time as a painter, he saw and admired, in the prints, the simplicity, the vivid colors, and the clarity of form through outlines.

he had seen these prints in books, but seeing them in person was transformative.

though he worked with lino-cutting rather than the full, complex, japanese methods of making the prints, it's clear that the lessons were well learned.

the new book, william s rice: california block prints, includes a helpful essay, giving glimpses of artist as man rather than simply technician.

while william rice was friends and colleagues with many of the other american printmakers of his time, his vision was his own. translating his obvious love of nature into color and line gives us a legacy of a california past that we will preserve as long as we can.

and this series of pomegranate books will help that along.

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07 June 2009

the will to wed



The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'


Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.


'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

the grand Edward Lear, 1871

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