The Literary Theory of Japanese Packaging.

28 Oct

“[I]t is precisely a specialty of the Japanese package that the triviality of the thing be disproportionate to the luxury of the envelope: a sweet, a bit of sugared bean paste, a vulgar ‘souvenir’… are wrapped with as much sumptuousness as a jewel. It is as if, then, the box were the object of the gift, not what it contains…[T]he package is not empty, but emptied: to find the object which is in the package or the signified which is in the sign is to discard it: what the Japanese carry, with a formicant energy, are actually empty signs.”

Roland Barthes, ‘Empire of Signs’

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