Open Seminar

Vol. 21.

“Art of Living” and “Method of Living”

  • Date: 23th December 2019, 17:30-19:30
  • Venue: Ito International Research Center, The University of Tokyo
  • Speaker: Noriya Ito (Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo)

If we consider "modernity" as an impetus towards modernization, it can be divided into two types: an aesthetic impulse which is its own goal (or which has no goal); and an impulse with a rational and utilitarian purpose. The former, autotelic impulse (which we will call "decadence-modernity") is likely a key concept for Japan-China comparative contemporary cultural theory. In this seminar we will consider this key concept based on discourse concerning "the art of living" and "the method of living."

Up to the present, the "living art" advocated by Zhou Zuoren has been translated as either "method of living" or "art of living," according to the situation. Zhou Zuoren was influenced by Havelock Ellis's theory of the "art of living." Lin Yutang, who in turn was influenced by Zhou Zuoren, wrote about China's "art of living" and gained an international readership. The phrase "art of living(life)" as used by various writers has previously been translated in Japanese as "method of living" or "art of living." This is similar to translations of the German lebenskunst and the French art de vivre. Taking an overview of various theories on the "art of living" and "method of living" as well as "making art out of life," we will discuss the complex relationship between "art of living" and "method of living" and the character of decadence-modernity.