Issue 6

Every time I am shown to an old, dimly lit, and, I would add, impeccably clean toilet in a Nara or Kyoto temple, I am impressed with the singular virtues of Japanese architecture. The parlor may have its charms, but the Japanese toilet truly is a place of spiritual repose. It always stands apart from the main building, at the end of a corridor, in a grove fragrant with leaves and moss. No words can describe that sensation as one sits in the dim light, basking in the faint glow reflected from the shoji, lost in meditation or gazing out at the garden. The novelist Natsume Soseki counted his morning trips to the toilet a great pleasure, ‘a physiological delight’ he called it. And surely there could be no better place to savor this pleasure than a Japanese toilet where, surrounded by tranquil walls and finely grained wood, one looks out upon blue skies and green leaves.”

– In Praise of Shadows, Jun’ichirō Tanizaki

Toccata Frigia

Toccata Frigia

A piano piece drawing inspiration from the first part of Keith Emerson’s ‘Tarkus’. The structure is mostly modal, based on the Phrygian (dominant) mode, and the time signature is 5/8 in the first part and 5/4 in the second.

An experiment in Japanese form

An experiment in Japanese form

He arrived at noon, trudging up the road with a black duffel bag slung over his shoulder. I never asked him how he got here. The station was much too far away to walk from, and he must have been completely exhausted. Perhaps the army truck dropped him off, or he might have taken a cab. But if that was so, why didn’t they leave him at the door?

The blossoms of the apricot blow from east to west

The blossoms of the apricot blow from east to west

In February 1888, Vincent van Gogh, travels from Paris to the Provence and looks out of the wagon’s window to ‘to see if it was like Japan yet’, enthralled – as he was – by Japanese woodblock prints. It was their light that he sought, a light that he found in the crisp sky of Arles.

Review of the letters of Adolph Törneros

Review of the letters of Adolph Törneros

Adolph Törneros was one of the most prominent members of the new school of romanticism which developed at the university in Uppsala in the early 1800s. During his lifetime he published very little, his oeuvre amounting to nothing more than some texts on Cicero and ancient Rome. What makes him a remembered and still cherished part of the Swedish literary panthéon are his letters.

In defence of tonality

In defence of tonality

In the closing bars of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude 10, Opus 32, we hear an airy, arpeggiated B major chord climb the keys, only to chromatically and resignedly sink back down to a low, closely spaced B minor chord, upon which the piece ends.