Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Dangers of book learning.
Tokyo


When one is touring there are things that one really shouldn’t miss, and things that some say one shouldn’t miss and I suppose some things that are missable but into which one collides by good fortune.

Today was a day spent not missing quite a lot.  While the cherry blossoms still have a day or two before they reach their prime in Ueno Park,the parties were in full swing as we made our way to the Museum of Western Art.   

I suppose it was a bit of a “death by architecture” day with a sprinkled topping of some of the finest art could possibly imagine.    Having munched our way through a feast of works of the likes of Corbusier, Frank Loyd Wright, paintings by the great European Masters, a collection of Rodin, and who knows what else we made it to a museum dedicated to the work of  Katushika Hokusai “the woodblock guy, who made the wave picture”.  

It was a splendid brand new aluminium crystal, detailed to the sort of perfection that made one’s eyes water.  Of course one could ask questions as to how well it may stand the test of time but that would be failing to enjoy the moment.    Speaking of standing time’s test, our visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s school for girls was a somewhat shattering experience for yours truly.   

For considerably more than half a century my expectations have been built chapter after chapter by various texts and experts leading me to believe that this chap was special and he undoubtedly was.     

His work was well ahead of his time, but I was expecting I think to see genius at work, spaces beautifully resolved, public areas that I could stand erect in without taking more skin from the top of my scone.   Certainly if one put two buildings of the same era side by side, the differences and originality would be staggering, but for me the experience of those jarring volumes left me with a feeling that it was a great idea not quite properly worked out.

I spoke with others in our group who know about this stuff, of my concerns, and in reply they looked at me with a different kind of concern.

Am I the only one who can see the emperor has no clothes on?

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4 comments

Meg Weaves said...

Likewise, his Imperial Hotel, now in the architecture park near Nagoya, is a staggeringly dark and low anti-edifice that even I, at 1.45cm, felt like walking on my knees. I could also make fun of how English speakers pronounce many Japanese words, but Peter, I won't go there. It wasn't nice, though.

bitingmidge said...

My apologies for the word games Meg - originally the mis-name was from a quite involved skit from a Wizard of Id cartoon. My normal rule is that any pronunciation of English is quite OK, because he person doing the pronouncing knows at least one language beside their own, which already puts them on a higher ground intellectually as well as morally! Cheers, and thanks for all the comments!

Better than Bacon Team said...

Pete - I had a similar 'emperor has no clothes' experience when I read The Da Vinci Code. It's a disconcerting feeling when you know in your heart of hearts you're right ... and pretty much everyone else on the planet, well, isn't. Maybe you'll feel differently if you get the chance to view other FLW projects. Then again, I'd rather put pins in my eyes than read another Dan Brown novel.

Jack said...

I have seen numerous buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright and I have exactly the same reaction. Too often they leak and have stains on the untreated wood from the water that seeps in. If he had only drawn them and not built them, I might have higher regard for him. Emperor's clothes indeed.

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