Tractates — the three layers
“[The] conventions of Western discourse — order, logical progression, symmetry –… impose upon the subject an aspect that does not belong to it. Among other ideas, Eastern Aesthetics suggests that ordered structure contrives, that logical exposition falsifies, and that linear, consecutive argument eventually limits… Most likely to succeed in defining Japanese aesthetics is a net of associations composed of listings or jottings, connected intuitively, that fills in a background and renders the subject visible. Hence, the Japanese uses for juxtaposition, for assembling, for bricolage.” Donald Richie A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics
The above quote I read in a book I mentioned yesterday called the BRICOLEUR & his SENTENCES by Stan Dragland (Peddlar Press), but it is quoted from a Michael Ondaatje essay called “Mongrel Writing”, which in turn is quoting the original Donald Richie text which it names as Tractates. (Perhaps the book is out of print, but the only title I could find that’s near it for Richie is the one I’ve attributed it to above.) That’s three layers of quotes to arrive here. It is 7,549 km from Vancouver to Tokyo and unfortunately I am unable to calculate how long it would take you to walk there, but it probably includes the number 3 someplace as well.
If you are wondering what Tractates means (I was) here is a definition:
late 15th century: from Latin tractatus, from tractare ‘to handle,’ frequentative of trahere ‘draw.’
This remarking of Richie’s also brings to mind the comments Xiaolu Guo made during this panel at the Jaipur Literary Festival. Xiaolu has a new book out called I AM CHINA. This is very good news. I walked up a mountain in Banff with Xiaolu last year. I should be happy to walk up many mountains talking to her. Indeed we could tractate up and down mountains ensemble.