Friday, July 18, 2003

Don't Know Much About The Middle Ages

I could have sworn there are lyrics to the Sam Cooke song, "What A Wonderful World" that said something like "Don't know much about the Middle Ages, Just looked at the pictures while I turned the pages" but maybe I got that all wrong. And talk about cultural bias -- when I say Middle Ages, most Westerners think of the European Middle Ages, don't we? But what about this -- sounds like way more fun than all those scribes in monasteries in drafty cold Europe.

The Middle Ages was a decisive time in Japan's history because it confirmed the country's national identity. New forms of cultural expression, such as poetry, theater, garden design, the tea ceremony, flower arranging, and illustrated scrolls, conveyed a unique sensibility -sometimes in opposition to the earlier Chinese models followed by the old nobility. The World Turned Upside Down provides an animated account of the religious, intellectual, and literary practices of medieval Japan in order to reveal the era's own notable cultural creativity and enormous economic potential.

-- Synopsis of The World Turned Upside Down: Medieval Japanese Society