I’ve just finished reading Ji Cheng’s The Craft of Gardens (1631), considered a sort of handbook for the art of garden laying. I’m reminded once again of how deep the thinking behind traditional Chinese gardening is.
It is kind of fun to read the book and realize that there were people in Ji Cheng’s day who took a sloppy approach to the art, and to see him poking fun of it all. It will sound very familiar to anyone brought up amidst the commidification culture of our own age. It’s a nice reminder that we aren’t alone, and that even this sadly deficient mindset about art and beauty has been around for centuries. The good news is that, even in the midst of such a culture, real beauty can still be attained, as long as thoughtful artists like Ji Cheng continue to refuse to buy into the shortcuts embraced by the culture at large.