What do you believe the engine of haiku is - the single most important aspect of haiku?
The Discussion (5/25/14 - 5/26/14):
good juxtaposition, zokka,yugen(depth and mystery), simplicity, authentication
I'm thinking along that line as well. For me, it is the juxt and/or disjunction. Without it, it feels like the haiku is just a short poem (in any language) without the images that juxt/disjunction can bring.
Juxtaposition and Disjunction
Diana Ming Jeong
The moment of transcendence in life.
A connection with nature... Juxtaposition is sometimes overrated...
@ Diana: But, what writing technique brings that to poetic life. Transcendence seems like a psychological place to dwell and what I'm looking for is what writing skill or haiku poetic do you believe causes your poem to be haiku and not just a short poem, if there is a difference.
Diana Ming Jeong
For me it is the yugen... and the cut mark that gives the pause.
Ahhh, the "cut." That is the cause of the juxtaposition/disjunction. It is either shown by a marker or caused by the syntax. The cut is where the mystery is birthed - often referenced in Japanese as yugen. For me, that is so important, as well.
We're basically, saying the same thing - from a different lingo.
Diana Ming Jeong
Perhaps the cut marker is the juxtaposition?
Because I am still learning the lingo!
What I think of as the engine that drives haiku --all varieties of haiku, traditional, neotraditional, gendai, those with or without seasonality, with or without two-part structure, fragment/phrase or gramatically contiguous, and of a range of lines and brevity-preserving structures-- has been called by many names. Some of them are "pattern recognition", "resonant interval", "simultaneity", "epiphany", "resonance", and so on.
But which (1), Michael N-W, do you believe defines haiku the most? If any?
@Diana: yes, but syntax also implies it - a non "marked" cut.
just moments ago
This version leaves it to the reader. The next version has more design so as to guide the reader more carefully. There are reasons to do it either way.
teetering grass . . .
just moments ago
When I wrote this poem, I opted for the actual "marker."
As I say, the one that goes by those terms in quotation marks. Most often, as a shorthand, I think of it as "resonance" or "resonant interval".
The resonances created when two disparate images - one tapping into the 'tragic plane' of archetypes and absolutes, and the other drawn from the observable world of change, are brought into collision. The rest is the poetic art that provides the dynamism for that to be triggered in the listener.
So, Hansha, in a way, you are also suggesting the engine to be juxt/disjunction? Two parts in comparison/contrast - a juxt.
I love the term, resonant interval, Michael. I'm going to ponder this. Thank you.
It a short breath, Michael, how would you explain "resonant interval" and please give an example of a haiku that has it.
Don, it's from Marshall McLuhan's book _The Global Village: Transformations in World Life and Media in the 21st Century_ (NY: Oxford University Press, 1989, ISBN 01950791080). McLuhan in turn bases his thinking partly on Gestalt psychology. It's concerned with human perception, that we experience the world as a moving dynamic between figure (immediate image or detail) and ground (all sensory perceptions available but not attended to at the moment). Between these is the "resonant interval", where both may be perceived simultaneously. These three constantly shift from moment to moment in a person's perception. Really, any haiku that resonates has this resonant interval. I'm headed out the door right now, though...
Yes, Don, this is what gives the poem its breath of life. What Richard Gilbert (quoting James Hillman) refers to as the 'in gasp'.
Diana Ming Jeong
Thanks, Hansha. The "disparate" is such a clean way to describe much of this idea of juxt/disjunction. This brings us to a place where, in a way, there is no comparison - - and the key to where Richard posits the idea of disjunction from, as you allude to.
Disparate parts, juxtaposition, disjunction, resonant interval ... all attempting to bring out the possibility of deeper meaning(s).
As posed, the question is difficult to answer, as a good haiku depends on a marriage of aspects, versus a single one. In my view, that marriage is roughly between image, insight, and emotion. It so happens that there is a tried and true set of tools -- juxtaposition, seasonality, depth, openness, etc. that various trailblazer have provided us to help achieve that marriage. The key, however, is to focus on the end project, not the toolbox. The failure to heed that maxim is the source of much strife in the broader haiku community.
What Scott said!
I agree, Scott ... though being a martial artist (52 years), I believe a toolbox (foundation) to be inherently important in most arts. I always enjoy your take on things. And, I agree, in the end ... the poem itself, is the most important aspect. Thanks for pondering.
Diana Ming Jeong
But without the toolbox, the end project falls apart. The simplicity of the tools, the precision of the placement, creates the perfect resonance.
Indeed. None of the 'tools' are straitjackets. The 'plays' the thing but some tools seem to be tailor-made for such a brief poem.
This is what makes the arts tick - differences of approach - each painter, author, musician ... finding their way - following their own truth.
@Hansha: I like the way you put it: "some tools seem to be tailor-made for such a brief poem." I'm going to savor the thought.
That's true. Just keep the toolbox open for additional tools. There was probably a carpenter happy with his hammer and screwdriver before the drill inventor came along. If he kept his focus on building a house, he'd make room for the drill too and be the better for it.
If we define engine as the driving core of haiku, would any of these answers change? Is there a core? Or as Michael explains, the core is a multitude of things?
If you were limited to just one thing, what would you choose as the core for your haiku based on that limitation - as artificial as this sounds - it's nifty to ponder.
Yes Scott! I'm there with you.
If pinned to a single aspect, it's image. I want to leave the reader with something to see. Sometimes I may have a concrete goal -- dry leaves / the way my heart rustles / when she walks // and sometimes my goal is more open ended -- bare branch / the shape of everything / but the bird //. Either way, I'm hoping to leave you with something to remember. (Poems published in Frogpond and Modern Haiku, respectively).
Would you consider the image or the disjunction the most important aspect in this poem you have used as an example:
dry leaves / the way my heart rustles / when she walks
It's an incredible image. But, it also has a fully developed juxt between dry leaves and the phrase. Is it the image you cherish most? Or, the depth of meaning?
A good pondering?
Interesting to wake up, in Japan to this. When I read "engine" and "single most important aspect" regarding haiku, I feel there's going to be a bit of the Trickster involved, old Coyote. Over here: http://gendaihaiku.com/
Uda Kiyoko focuses on "kire," -- cutting. Hasegawa Kai, likewise -- but Always we are in relationship -- when we speak of "the cut" or "mystery" (yugen) as well -- these are not meant to be definitive, objective "truths" existing within the poem. The The "engine" of a poem, haiku or otherwise, has to do with language and consciousness. For haiku specifically (distinguishing it as a genre), how would "disjunction" and also fragmentary language "absence" combined with concision -- act upon consciousness *differently* then in other poetic genres (as a rule)? To my mind (pun intended), I think the focus shifts to a psychological space(s) arising between poem and reader -- those hard to define (e.g. mysterious) qualities of this sense of space and openness -- which have a unique "taste" (with each unique poem as work of art). I believe that Hasegawa is discussing "ma" in this way. To discuss "ma" isn't easy. The experience itself requires a reader sensitive and sensitized to the genre. (In Japan you also need to be sensitized to the history and referentiality of kigo, if such exists in the poem.) I'm saying, the engine is you, and the "most important aspect" is how the poem loosens you -- loses you -- opens you --. Haiku do not exist outside of language, and are small articulations of literature -- I think with excellent haiku it's their power we love, or gravitate to. Work backward from the savor, the effect, in consciousness, towards the cause -- and as you do, that too becomes "effect" (in effect - the "feedback loops" are endless or measureless - resonate through time). An animate quality arises, a livingness. This circulation opposes closure, opposes definition, opposes completeness and finality. I like the phrase sometimes used: the opening or arising of (a) "haiku cosmos."
Nicely put. This is the touchstone of all poetic art but excellent haiku can have a dynamism beyond what can be achieved in other ways. I have wondered whether the 'form' has roots in the same soil as the utterances of the shaman. The effect could be likened to Shamanic Ecstasy in a manner of speaking.
Hansha, I don't think such a notion is foreign -- though not limited to haiku, certainly -- "Shamanic Ecstasy" is a tricky term; anthropologically, with narrow definition. Most obviously: where then do we journey?
There are possibly three perceptive levels of such ecstasy.
1) The physiological response, in which the mind becomes absorbed in and focused on a dominant idea, the attention is withdrawn and the nervous system itself is in part cut off from physical sensory input. The body may exhibit reflex inertia, involuntary nervous responses, frenzy.
2) Emotional perception of ecstasy refers to overwhelming feelings of awe, anxiety, joy, sadness, fear, astonishment, passion, etc.
3) Intuitive perception communicates a direct experience and understanding of the transpersonal experience of expanded states of awareness or consciousness.
Where then do we journey? I wonder whether we are taking brief excursions into Koestler's 'Tragic Plane' - "starstuff pondering the stars."
@Richard: A very interesting thought, and one I've been pondering, is the "cut" or disjunction between the haiku and the reader. There is a psychological distance between the reader and the poem - besides the cut within itself, either marked or not. The observed, for example, is somehow cut from time and space the moment it is "witnessed" - composed. It's brought forward from its existence into consciousness - the reader now an active part of the poem.
"I think the focus shifts to a psychological space(s) arising between poem and reader -- those hard to define (e.g. mysterious) qualities of this sense of space and openness --I think the focus shifts to a psychological space(s) arising between poem and reader -- those hard to define (e.g. mysterious) qualities of this sense of space and openness --" — Richard
Recently, I've marked a few haiku such as demonstrated by the following haiku with visible cuts before and after the haiku (though not marked in Japanese haiku, I recollect it being a traditional thought of Japanese haijin/mindset):
— dangling ...
a dandelion doesn't
... demonstrating a cut from its existence - pulled to focus from its possible obscurity - now witnessed or imagined by a human - it is no longer vaguely being, even passively, it is here now and unobscured.
... also implying a psychological cut between the reader and the poem - at least, to me; a reader resistance occurs which again is disjunctive between reader and poem, circling back to "psychological space(s) arising between poem and reader." Further, in the midst of this example, it is internally severed with a disjunction providing an atmosphere for a strong reader resistance.
Nice seeing you, Richard.
First, the last comment - thanks Don --. You know, Hasegawa discusses *why* Basho's 'old pond' haiku is a work of great art - and severely critiques realistic interpretations of that haiku -- by discussing, I feel, almost exactly what you are describing. If you view these first two subtitled videos, see if you agree: http://gendaihaiku.com/hasegawa/index.html
A book I have been reading this year, about the anthropology and practice of shamanism is _The Shaman: Voyages of the Soul, Trance Ecstacy and Healing from Siberia to the Amazon_ (Piers Vitebsky, London: Duncan Baird, 1995, ISBN 9781435106161).
Hansha, the psycho-physiological (& neurological) world you are presenting is one on the cutting edge of cognitive science -- unfortunately such science remains in its infancy. As David Chalmers has famously said (I qtd in my paper, "Plausible Deniability"), science has not yet successfully approached the "hard problem" of consciousness. Something as crucial as the 'experience of the redness of red' (qualia) remains mysterious. And then there's the Orch-OR theory (Penrose-Hamerhoff), proposing quantum interactions as an aspect of the root(s) of consciousness. I think "Intuitive perception" and "transpersonal experience of expanded states of awareness or consciousness" relate to our deeper sense of value in life. At the same time, as discussion, we step into a world in which the terms are slippery. (Define "transpersonal" define "intuitive" define "expanded states," etc.). Within a particular discipline or conceptual framework (e.g. Jungian psych., transpersonal psych., somatic therapy, cognitive studies), the terms are viable - or rejected. ("Transpersonal" won't fly, in contempo cognitive science, I suppose.) Another mode altogether for discussion might be found in phenomenology. I've been interested in the non-duality of body-mind, presented in Merleau-Ponty (which Eve Luckring first brought to my attention). Oh, some links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Chalmers... & http://en.wikipedia.org/.../Orchestrated_objective_reduction & I'm still pondering an older book, "Stalking the Wild Pendulum: On the Mechanics of Consciousness" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itzhak_Bentov -- Important to express such ideas and hypotheses, yet difficult to articulate, with veracity. This is the main reason I've stuck to literary linguistics in discussing haiku -- to probe and attempt to provide haiku example-groupings of language techniques affecting consciousness which readers might find edifying, if not unequivocally. David Chalmers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia en.wikipedia.orgDavid John Chalmers (/ˈtʃælmərz/; born 20 April 1966) is an Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist specializing in the area of philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. He is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University.
Aye, that is the problem and I relate to Raymond Roseliep's
to get hibiscus red
the artist eats the flower
I don't always agree with David Abram -- that said, his work is relevant to the discussion of poetry and shamanism, and one can add nature writing and ecology, as well. His essay in "Nature Writing: The Tradition in English" (Norton, 2002), "The Ecology of Magic" is eye-opening. He further developed his ideas into several books: David Abram - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia en.wikipedia.orgDavid Abram (born June 24, 1957) is an American philosopher, cultural ecologist, and performance artist, best known for his work bridging the philosophical tradition of phenomenology with environmental and ecological issues. He is the author of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology (2010).
For those interested, a slew of Abram's essays are freely available for reading on the "Wild Ethics" (his own and & his colleagues') website: http://www.wildethics.org/essays.html.
I'll just quote from the first para. of "Earth in Eclipse" (Abram): "There is another world, but it is in this one. -- Paul Eluard
As a fresh millennium dawns around us, a new and vital skill is waiting to be born in the human organism, a new talent called for by the curious situation in which much of humankind now finds itself. We may call it the skill of “navigating between worlds".
Alliance for Wild Ethics || Earth in Eclipse || Copyright © David Abram www.wildethics.orgFrom Merleau-Ponty and Environmental Philosophy, edited by Suzanne L. Cataldi, William S. Hamrick, SUNY Press, 2007. An early version of this essay was published as the cover article inTikkun magazine, Sept/Oct 2003.
"Navigating between worlds," is it. That's a significant thought regarding haiku, its engine (if such a thing) - its essence. I'm listening to Hasegawa at the moment (once again). I appreciate his presentation. It rings true and bares the deeper inner workings of Basho as a poet, and person.
Thanks, Richard. I am also interested in bush-tracking through the workings of the creative imagination for 'she' is the hidden, integrative power behind the throne.
Don/Richard: It is no mere coincidence that Mircea Eliade defined a shaman as one who "is believed to cure, like all doctors, and to perform miracles of the fakir type, like all magicians [...] But beyond this, he is a psychopomp, and he may also be a priest, mystic, and poet."
Eliade also influenced me, especially: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_return_(Eliade)
Eternal return (Eliade) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia en.wikipedia.org The "eternal return" is, according to the theories of the religious historian Mircea Eliade, a belief, expressed (sometimes implicitly, but often explicitly) in religious behavior, in the ability to return to the mythical age, to become contemporary with the events described in one's myths.
I see his influence in your explorings and I too studiously avoid adopting his politics.
Hansha -- good one! You know, how many artists, scientists, and generally those whose contributions of art and thought we admire, would bear up well, upon close 'personal life' examination? It may be that certain philosophers in particular, have had tragic lives, whether personally or socially . . . Poets though can get away with "apparent" social irresponsibility: There's that Basho guy, always running off, for months and months on end -- and that what's-his-face Issa, declaring he is "arabonpu": a "wild man"! I'm sure there are enough sober "Confucian" poets to make my point moot -- and yet, we cannot emulate poets, the way we might philosophers . . . Shiki really hated all that "Saint Basho" crap --.
To return now to Don's question after all our explorings - "What do you believe the engine of haiku is - the single most important aspect of haiku?"
My answer would have to be brevity.
In saying this, that which is given creative utterance in this manner should carry all it needs (no more - no less) to encompass truth, beauty and the ever-echoing resonances of a 'perceiver' caught up in 'connections' perceived. Truth and beauty defy universal definition but they can be recognised in one's physiological response (in spite of oneself) from listening to or from reading the poem.
Brevity is a key, I agree. Most of us attempt to keep these little gems brief. But in that brevity, you have other aspects to the brevity engine: truth, beauty, resonance(s), and connections. As a group, the engine you're describing begins to reveal itself through the poetic fog and mystery of the genre.
Thanks, Hansha ... for your additional thoughts. Now, it's late at night; and, when I should be asleep, you have me pondering yet again!
Peace to all and thanks for everyone's terrific concentrated input. There is a lot to ponder about this topic.
Goodnight from California!
I wonder if the engine of haiku is simply choosing wisely from the slew of techniques and devices available, and as any serious poet would be, mindful of each word, and of the power of poetry as a force beyond the sum of its parts.
I really liked this from Richard, and to paraphrase it, or hijack it, to say that haiku poetry “opposes closure, opposes definition, opposes completeness and finality.”
With all the pressure that haiku has to be a form or a genre, that it has to be seventeen English-language syllables, so prevalent on the internet, and to my concern, in one or more prestigious universities, I embrace Richard’s or perhaps my take on it, that haiku simply opposes all that is static and higher echelon and elitist, and controlling.
When even our way to freedom is disputed and bombarded there should always be haiku to come back to in the wee small dark hours, as well as the light of day.
Hi Alan -- I like the way you knit the world together, that way. From the historical-Japanese, right to the present perspective of gendai (modern) Japanese haiku, Basho's phrase "haiku jiyu" or "Haiku is for freedom" ["Haikai" at the time] is one that seems revered. I've heard it pronounced in such a variety of contexts. Most lately, from Kaneko Tohta, describing the "intellectual wildness" of his father's Chichibu mountain village haiku group, in his boyhood. But most directly, in Basho's own youth, his young Lord enjoyed "kukai" (haiku gathering-parties). But how was it, that farmers and samurai could mix, and how that the various levels of aristocracy could mix as equals, democratically, when social language (the use of specifically required words and phrases) itself dictated position and class relationships? For haiku, this was the gift of the "penname" (haigo) -- with one's haigo, this new democratic name, all were equals at the kukai. There is much to draw on, historically, with reference to your thought, that "haiku simply opposes all that is static and higher echelon and elitist, and controlling." This aspect, a deeply felt social sense, seems part of the backbone of haiku as practice, as a primarily social rather than single-isolate-author art form. And haigo are more outrageous yet. As Tsubouchi Nenten discusses with some brilliance, Shiki had over 100 haigo -- why? you might ask. Check it out: video #2, "Haigo--Masaoka Shiki and Haiku Persona": http://gendaihaiku.com/tsubouchi/index.html
Hansha, contemplating your remarks on brevity, three uber-brief haiku came to mind:
coughing, even alone
ly in the body
Cor van den Heuvel
(an exposition of 'at the limit,' or a limit, of the form) - Oh, one more:
Awarded the Scorpion Prize by Joseph Massey, and has some commentary here: http://roadrunnerhaikublog.wordpress.com/
re short haiku, could you say something about this one?
Hi e yamu (陽へ病む) by Ōhashi Raboku (1890-1933)
It resonates for me but many people might not see anything beyond a literal translation?
Richard, re your generous comments in this thread, and your reply to my post, a big thank you. For over twenty years I've seen haiku as the ideal poetry regarding fairness and fellowship despite some excessive politics both in the past centuries and the 20th Century (I won't even touch on the 21st century ) It's a major factor to me that haiku is inclusive, and your mention of haigo (pen names) makes things clearer why they were used so much, thank you.
Hi e yamu (陽へ病む) by Ōhashi Raboku -- can discuss it with some friends in the next few days [that "e" is pronounced "eh"] -- do you have an English translation for it? (It doesn't seem easy to translate.) -- Oh, thanks in return, Alan -- haiku seem to have a mysteriously viral effect, breeding society along with plenty of commentary. Who would have thought?
"Sick with the sun" (translation: Donald Keene
Raboku Ohashi (1890–1933), citing one of his oft-quoted minimalist haiku, hi e yamu (“I am sick with the sun.”—Keene’s tr., in which “I am” expresses ideas included in the original, but not its words)
Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature in the Modern Era—Poetry, Drama, Criticism. (Note that there is another volume with the same title, only differing at the end, where “Fiction” replaces “Poetry, Drama, Criticism”; that other volume is over 1300 pages long, and is not for sale here.) New York: Henry Holt, 1984. Paperback, 6×9.25″ (15.5×23.5 mm), 685+xiv pp.
Haiku is certainly unusual, whether it's written as many Westerners would like it to be written or not. I feel it's taken over from poetry that people seemed to love because poetry appears to be more and more exclusive to poets only, and a few select non-poets, but haiku will always be inclusive whether regular haiku poets want that or not.
I feel the engine of haiku is the people who embrace it, and despite many wrong turnings, it at least keeps haiku alive. Sure, there will be times when we will be swamped with weak attempts at haiku, but I’m less worried about that. With social media there is greater opportunity to communicate, to show rather than tell people how to write or read haiku.
I feel maintaining our generosity with all lovers of haiku (be what it may) is the true engine, and that we all write a greater poem haiku by haiku. That’s just not possible with other poetry which is controlled by a few people often for a few people.
Just thinking out aloud, not telling, or even showing.
Well, after all this I think I know what the 'engine' to haiku is. It is whatever the poet thinks it is, at that moment in time. Thanks Don!!!
And the added idea --the *necessarily* added idea-- is that haiku itself is whatever the poet thinks it is, at that moment in time. And I don't personally think there is any way around the condition that yields that kind of definition. It's what a living art is.
Hi Don -- thank you. I actually don't see "dry leaves" as having a major jux -- dry leaves, rustling, and walking all seem to function on the same plane. The image I was hoping to implant is a lovely woman's behind. But, that's me -- a bit gross . I am glad you see more and always fascinated by the different takeaways readers can have as to the same poem. A scholar once posted and commented on a tanka of mine that I intended to concern, shall we say, "love of self," but read it in an utterly different way. In both cases I can at least be confident I left dreaming room for the reader. Cheers.
Johannes S. H. Bjerg
wow, that's a long thread, but I have to agree with: 1) the engine isn't that easy to pin out 2) haiku doesn't exist outside language, language doesn't exist outside consciousness and that last thing is a universe in itself and its meeting with other of its kind ... The first haiku that hit "the spot" for me was Ozaki's coughing and Right Under ... the first collection that made haiku "literature" for me.
In haiku (and all other arts) I get bored if I from the onset of a piece already know it before it's finished i.e. f it doesn't hold a vast part of "unknown"/hinted that demands my "chewing" and exploring. More than kigo and what have you of Japanese terms it's in the language for me; some faint, but distinct, thought/glimpse of consciousness that cannot be expressed otherwise - if that makes sense. I need to wonder, to be taken by surprise, to meet the unexpected etc. and I think this first and foremost lies in language.
One of Scott Metz's from Bones 3 have been in my head since I read it
I agree, that language is at or near the top of the list. It, in the end, is the chalice that holds the rest of the puzzle that makes haiku what it is. The operation of language is the essence and skill combined that gives haiku a chance to exist outside the realm of mind.
Thanks, to all.