Under the Bashō 2013Features

 by Dr. Richard Gilbert


(Excerpts from The Disjunctive Dragonfly, authorized, reviewed and approved by Dr. Richard Gilbert)

"Realism itself is a form of appearance, as the 'real' is given not only by objective sensation (hearing, seeing, touching, etc.), but also by the way in which sense data are synthesized in consciousness to create 'real' experience.  Just as a dream can be sensed as vivid reality, it is not only the 'outer' senses alone that dictate 'the real.'  Internalized judgments ('stances'), subtle though they may be, existentially validate experience.  Poetry in its widest sense deforms or irrupts habitual literalism — challenging or irrupting habitual validations of the real.

In the school of Archetypal Psychology, James Hillman discusses the ego (the sense of the literal 'I') as the literalizing function of the psyche — stating that the ground of psychic life is non-literal.  Hillman advances the intriguing psychological notion that mind is fundamentally poetic and metaphoric in nature.* This may be good news for poets, providing a clue as to why haiku often impart a powerful and nearly instantaneous reality-sense.  As well, what may be taken as literal reality by one culture, or one individual, may not be literal (that is, 'real') to another — haiku 'realism' is not ultimate truth, or a best representative of either sincerity or verity (makoto) by any means, as some critics have implied."*  ~ Dr. Richard Gilbert

The following poems are examples to be pondered (all examples are from the book in discussion, The Disjunctive Dragonfly):

under the pillow
lute strings slit
by a minstrel

 Jack Galmitz, 2012; RR 12.1

what's left of the light the music absorbs

Phil Rowland, 2012; RR 12.2

salt wind ripples on an inner lake

Cherie Hunter Day, 2010; H21 56; HIE 176

"What these haiku provide is an imagistic paradox generating a deeply inward psychological, philosophical and/or mythic contemplative sense.  The key disjunctive aspect in these haiku lies in the cutting edge between the reader's knowledge of the impossibility of the superposed images and the contrary sense, brought by poetry, that the resultant whole is real (true) and believable.  Literal and metaphoric sensibilities cannot entirely merge (except mystically or pathologically), yet paradoxically, in these haiku they present as coterminous.  Haiku of the impossibly true reveal that realism is a subject of reality.  It is notable in this regard that 'poets such as Wallace Stevens use the word 'reality' without shame, acknowledging that 'its connotations are without limit'."*  Incorporating realism with a larger field, haiku of the 'impossibly true' penetrate to the deeper layers of identity and self, providing a glimpse of the ground of poetic being — 'poems that create a truth that cannot be arrive at by reason (or realism) alone' (Stevens, 1958, p.58)."1

bleeding under my skin the American dream

Eve Luckring, 2010, RR 10.1



1The essay quoted and all poems are from pages 61 and 62, The Disjunctive Dragonfly, Dr. Richard Gilbert, Red Moon Press, 2013.  The reproduction of this material has been authorized by Dr. Richard Gilbert for use by Under the Basho, Don Baird, Hansha Teki, et al.  

*Refer to the book's endnotes — pages 117-124