Beauty that is too mysterious to comprehend. The grace of an autumn sky and the shadowy elegance of a Noh drama. This is an aesthetic concept from Japan with roots in Confucianism and Zen Buddhism. Further reading: Junichiro Tanizaki's In Praise of Shadows.
Romantics & The Lost Generation
There are perhaps no other novels as evocative of their times and the obsessive yearnings of the human spirit as Moby Dick and The Great Gatsby. Even if one were no romantic, it's hard to pass over the narrative beauty of their passages and soliloquies. Every time I write, these are what I dream about. Then there is Ezra Pound, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
His films are a genre of their own. The mood and rhythm. That unsettling atmosphere. After-midnight jazz in strange clubs. I wonder if Los Angeles could really be so haunting.
They say magical realism and postmodernist literature originated from his writings. Some even call him the greatest writer of the 20th century. I'm in no position to make such claims, but never except in Daphne du Maurier's short stories have I come across worlds of such mysticism and intrigue. Further reading: The Aleph, A Universal History of Iniquity, Shakespeare's Memory.
Naoto Fukasawa & Kenya Hara
What I like most about Japanese design is the emphasis on materiality and perceptual awareness — delighting the body before the mind even takes notice. And for that reason, I'm especially in admiration of Hara's and Fukasawa's work, which is as heavily informed by craft traditions as by cognitive science. Further reading: Hara's Designing Design.
One of the giants of motion-picture photography, best known for The Godfather, Manhattan, Stardust Memories, and the thrillers Klute and The Parallax View. All of them masterclasses in composition and the art of lighting. This is how films should be shot.
As the land where I grew up, and the place where many ancient and fundamental ideas about human nature have originated, it's hard to estimate the reach of the Indian subcontinent on my way of thinking. If I were to focus on things that are more accountable, I suppose there would be the schools of classical music, art from the Gupta and Mughal periods, philosophy and science from the 1st millennium BCE to the turn of the 1st millennium CE, literature from all of time, and cinema from the 60s and 80s...the list is never ending.