- Towards Renascence -


Polarity in Art, Lifestyle and Ontology -

Japan, a visual and theoretical model

By Nold Egenter

The following text and its rich illustrations is basically an attempt to reconstruct an anthropology of aesthetics. The paper essentially uses Japanese materials, art and architecture in the wider sense. However, not only the conventional history of Japanese art is dealt with, present popular art is included, as well as cultic art studied by the author in agrarian villages. Technical, social and religious criteria of the latter clearly show that this cultic art surviving traditionally in the framework of rural Shinto is temporally very deeprooted. The festive signs and symbols are prehistorical survivals which have disappeared in other cultures, essentially for religious reasons (Christianisation, Islamisation).

If we say anthropology, this means that the same study could be done in other cultures. Particularly the Euro-Mediterranean domain with Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia shows a lot of sources which can be interpreted in the same way (see this website). The study is also an evolutionary theory of aesthetics. It indicates how aesthetics might have developed. Evidently the impulses do not come from preconceived human ideas, but from a disposition of the objects to autonomously express what we call 'pro-portion' or 'categorical polarity'. The fact that we deal with these objects in a pluridisciplinary approach, including religious considerations to some extent, makes this study particularly interesting. It shows a close relation between aesthetic criteria and the religious world view, an aspect which can be traced throughout the histories of art and religions, but which never appears so intrinsically interwoven as in the present case, giving art, architecture and aesthetics the priority in the formation of the corresponding ontology.

In view of conventional discussions of aesthetics, the results of the present study are striking in various ways. In the following some points:

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