Sunday, June 26, 2022
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Friday, June 10, 2022
Thursday, June 9, 2022
Saturday, June 4, 2022
This used to be one of our favorite recordings of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Now we're reclaiming it as a commemorative piece in honor of our "ancestor" Sayf b. Dhi Yazan of Himyar, in the Arabian Peninsula. This one is for all the Banu Sayf.
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
George Bailey Sansom's Japan: A Short Cultural History is not short. Exceeding 500 pages, it condenses over 2000 years of Japanese history into a single book. Focusing on cultural developments in the arts, literature, religion, and learning, it unavoidably explores social, political, and economic contexts in various eras in Japanese history before ending in 1868. Since it was originally published in the 1930s, some chapters are outdated and one should probably consult more recent works for prehistoric and early historic Japan.
However, in spite of its occasionally outdated references and bizarre allusions to "racial" character, this is an enjoyable overview of Japanese Civilization from an old-school generation of British historians. We mean that in a positive way, by the way. There are chapters that also make the reader rethink their assumptions. The Sengoku Jidai period, for instance, was, according to Sansom, a period of economic growth and cultural development despite the warring and destruction. One also gets some semblance of the diverse sects of Buddhism in Japanese history and how Japanese responses to Chinese or other influences changed over time.
However, I think Morris was a bit more useful for breaking down Heian social structure while Leupp might be more enlightening on the urban laborers and shop hands of the Tokugawa era. In his defense, Sansom's book was first published in the 1930s and he was clearly in a league of his own when it came to Western historians with an interest in Japan. We will have to read the famous trilogy of Sansom next to see his more detailed analysis of Japanese history beyond culture and the arts.