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Hardcover | $32.95 Trade | £22.95 | ISBN: 9781890951412 | 169 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 8 illus.| March 2004
 
Paperback | $18.95 Trade | £13.95 | ISBN: 9781890951429 | 169 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 8 illus.| August 2007
 

In Praise of Blandness

Proceeding from Chinese Thought and Aesthetics

Overview

Already translated into six languages, Francois Jullien's In Praise of Blandness has become a classic. Appearing for the first time in English, this groundbreaking work of philosophy, anthropology, aesthetics, and sinology is certain to stir readers to think and experience what may at first seem impossible: the richness of a bland sound, a bland meaning, a bland painting, a bland poem. In presenting the value of blandness through as many concrete examples and original texts as possible, Jullien allows the undifferentiated foundation of all things—blandness itself—to appear. After completing this book, readers will reevaluate those familiar Western lines of thought where blandness is associated with a lack—the undesirable absence of particular, defining qualities.

Jullien traces the elusive appearance and crucial value of blandness from its beginnings in the Daoist and Confucian traditions to its integration into literary and visual aesthetics in the late-medieval period and beyond. Gradually developing into a positive quality in Chinese aesthetic and ethical traditions, the bland comprises the harmonious and unnameable union of all potential values, embodying a reality whose very essence is change and providing an infinite opening into the breadth of human expression and taste.

More than just a cultural history, In Praise of Blandness invites those both familiar and unfamiliar with Chinese culture to explore the resonances of the bland in literary, philosophical, and religious texts and to witness how all currents of Chinese thought—Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism—converge in harmonious accord.

About the Author

François Jullien is Professor at the Université Paris VII-Denis Diderot and director at the Institut de la Pensée Contemporaine. He is the author of Detour and Access: Strategies of Meaning in China and Greece, The Propensity of Things: Toward a History of Efficacy in China, and In Praise of Blandness: Proceeding from Chinese Thought and Aesthetics all published by Zone Books.

Reviews

"Blandness is a sub rosa self-help book and a map to the sublime."—Village Voice