STARVE IF NEED BE . . . BUT PAINT!
It is good that life seems unending . . .
NO OTHER race on earth can fashion the little things of this world with such perfection as the Japanese: tiny bowls, or little curved colored platters for serving fish, lacquered boxes, small containers for writing materials, the fine arts of floral arrangement, the controlled growth of dwarf trees, miniature gardens, miniature bridges, miniature pavilions. The Japanese are unrivaled masters of the small and delicate.
These island people of the northeast Pacific have always been strangers to the massive, the spacious, the superdimensional. Yet they have a bold genius for painting, the combination of colors and the choice of silk patterns; for dancing and acting; and, above all, for the art of making life on their cramped, scattered islands as pleasant and enjoyable as possible. The Japanese have often been victimized by the very characteristics that have made them such great artists: by their naïve and childlike qualities. Yet they have always realized man's insignificance in the face of nature's vastness.
The Japanese have always, for better or worse, been at the mercy of their cramped island home with its perilous earthquakes and its smoking volcanoes. Always close to the sea, they have forever been prisoners of their natural environment. And because they know so much about nature they have never bothered to tame it; they have never framed their pictures nor barricaded their houses against the elements; they have never wept when an earthquake or a tidal wave engulfed their mothers, wives and children.
Eternally submissive toward nature, the Japanese have always bowed to the sun and revered the chief product of their fields: the precious rice that feeds them and supplies the straw for the mats upon which they sleep at night. They have always been obedient and disciplined, and have known how to die without lamentations. For the Japanese are deeply convinced that beauty is invested only in nature, or in an extension of nature. And death itself is a part of nature.
The Japanese undertook an incredibly bold task when, with Polynesia on the wane, they became the only race to preserve the culture of Oceanis and the Pacific. They have willingly taken over everything
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Publication information: Book title: The Living Past. Contributors: Ivar Lissner - Author, J. Maxwell Brownjohn - Translator. Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1957. Page number: 214.
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