David Ranzini

David RanziniAs a bookish kid in suburban Virginia, I grew up surrounded by the enduring influence of exported Japanese culture– albeit the 19th century Japan of ukiyo-e and samurai that had inspired Western artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as part of what might now be called a “First Wave” of Japanese National Cool. A reproduction of Mary Cassatt’s The Letter used to hang outside my room, and I recall my mother explaining the visible influence of bijin-ga woodblock prints, imported to Paris as the “cool decorative accessory” of their day, on the flattened picture plane and the stylized pose of Cassatt’s sitter.

At the library I read Japanese history, daydreamed about samurai, and occasionally turned in haiku for literature-class poetry assignments (motivated as much by their fleeting, transparent profundity as the form’s appealingly brief length).¬† Meanwhile, through friends willing to lend me their Game Boys on the bus ride to elementary school, I gradually began to become familiar with another Japan– notable, as it had been in the 19th century, primarily as a source¬† of New Things That Were Extremely Cool- chief among them the Nintendo 64 and the Tamagotchi. [Read more…]