Monday, August 13, 2012

culture: garden, tash aw, oriental, western

"One shudders at the thought of the harshness to be found in the great French gardens- in Versailles, for example, the greatest of them all, where the rows of trees are lined up like soldiers on parade. In spite of what the French would have us believe, I have always thought their gardens display a certain poverty of imagination, a failure of the romantic impulse.

My designs owe nothing to the tradition of those gardens the French think of as le jardin anglais, the grand visions of classical perfection at Stowe or Blenheim, for example. How distasteful that would be in a setting such as this. If anything, this will be a wild garden, a creation of seemingly casual beauty, whose charms are quiet, understated… Is the purpose of a flower bed not similar to that of a poem? Within their artificial boundaries, both contain a tiny world of beauty, a joyous compression of life."

- The Harmony Silk Factory, Tash Aw


"… the evolution of the so-called Anglo-Chinese garden, a development which helped to shift attitudes away from the ideals of classical formality and regularity which had predominated in the Enlightenmentperiod, towards a greater sense of naturalness and freedom.

According to the arthistorian Michael Sullivan, the image of the Chinese garden, transmitted toEurope by Sir William Chambers inter alia, helped to provoke ‘a reaction against the formal, geometrical gardens of Italy and France, and helped to bring to birth the natural gardens that were so much more in accordance with English taste’ (in Ropp 1990:286). Some critics believe that this transmission had a crucial influence on the formation of Romantic attitudes towards nature (see Lovejoy 1948), and in the opinion of the historian Adolf Reichwein, what was involved here was not merely a revolution in garden design as such but an epochal shift in attitudes towards nature from those associated with Augustan ideals of classical symmetry and proportion to the more liberated, imaginative, spontaneous view that blossomed in the Romantic period (see Reichwein 1925:113ff)."

- Oriental Enlightenment: The Encounter Between Asian and Western Thought, J. J. Clarke

isnt it brilliant how a garden reflects the sensibilities of two great cultures? choose your garden!


after encountering a couple of East-West views in two of his books, i reckon that my favorite author Tash Aw has read “Oriental Enlightenment”, an intellectual book which holds noteworthy explanations regarding the historical and cultural position of Asia in relation to the West. ive only read the first few chapters of this book while i was in college, still dont have the time to finish it.


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