In Praise of Shadows by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, translated by Thomas J. Harper and Edward G. Seidensticker

Rating: ★★★★

In Praise of Shadows is a short essay about aesthetics and modernity. Tanizaki in 1933 asks why appliances are so ugly, writes about his dislike for loudspeakers in public places, and includes a few passages about why crossing streets with cars stinks – all things I've thought about myself in 2023. It's always fun to read sharp writing that you already agree with.

There's a lot that's new to me, too. Tanizaki writes that gold as a material is best used in dark places, what little light there is renders it elegant, not gaudy.

He also writes about the value of patina, and I'm convinced, I'm going to value patina more. The scratches on my wedding band, the dings on my bicycle's pedals, the wear on my keys – all these have a beauty to them. I certainly wouldn't do anything to intentionally weather my things, that doesn't make sense. But I will appreciate an honest patina on my things.