Thursday, September 24, 2020
Saturday, August 15, 2020
Monday, March 18, 2019
There's a growing understanding that drawing is much more than an art form: it's a powerful tool for learning.
- We often think of drawing as something that takes innate talent, but this kind of thinking stems from our misclassification of drawing as, primarily, an art form rather than a tool for learning.
- Researchers, teachers, and artists are starting to see how drawing can positively impact a wide variety of skills and disciplines.
- Drawing is not an innate gift; rather, it can be taught and developed. Doing so helps people to perceive the world more accurately, remember facts better, and understand their world from a new perspective.
Friday, March 15, 2019
This 1906 treatise, written by Kakuzo Okakura for a western audience keen to educate themselves in eastern art and custom, details the Japanese tea ceremony and the "teaist" movement stemming from it. A blend of Zen Buddhism and Taoism, teaism used the ancient tea ceremony to foster mental discipline and a kinship with nature that would, it was hoped, lead to enlightenment. The Book of Tea, which followed two previous meditations on Japanese culture by Okakura, became a central text in the orientalist movement of the early 1900s, and captivated poets like Eliot and Pound.
The book is no dusty eastern curio: Okakura's exploration of tea culture was infused with his belief that east and west could coexist harmoniously. Becoming a staple of western life, this "liquid amber" seemed to him the only stuff that could flow smoothly across cultural boundaries: "Strangely enough humanity has so far met in the teacup." He reflects on all elements of the tea ceremony, from the story of its 16th-century founder – the Zen monk Rikiu – to teahouse architecture, and the perfect water (mountain spring). His delicate verbal images are a highlight, and in his "twilight of evergreens" we share the teaist appreciation of beauty in simplicity.
Yet the book is steeped in Okakura's own cultural unease. Born in Japan but educated – at his father's wish – according to English tradition, Okakura could barely read his mother tongue; on moving to America, however, he insisted on wearing a kimono. His crisis of origin simmers below the book's surface: historical commentary boils over into bitter criticism of the west's treatment of Japan and images are interrupted by diatribes against western industry.
Okakura's tract struggles to remedy its author's identity crisis and the west's lost refinement, and may leave the modern reader, for whom tea has become rushed routine, at a loss. Yet something can clearly be taken from Okakura's commitment to international relations, and from his written display of the teaist aesthetic. Clearly, this was no mere storm in a teacup.
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