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ALL THAT ASIDE: Partial Answer to Question 2:
2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?
Field Notes 2: What can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry?
September 11, 2013, 09:19:37 PM
I think of poetry (not just haiku) as being created in many many ways --
If it's not something new, in-process, with each new instance, i think you don't usually end up with good "media" (art product -- art is about production as a goal; a making).
So we can talk about what Gary Snyder called "The Real Work." For Don [Baird] "clarity" is key, a keynote, and a keyword. For myself, it might be: "the amorphous" or "the cloud of unknowing" -- the way of "via negativa." What comes into "focus" may be things I find only later find sweetbitter, later grasp.
And maybe there was something automatic, something like a trance, something like self-extinction.
"Clarity" poses a "something." It is a positive. Perhaps a centering, a "truth" -- in any case a "thing." An evident suchness; of this -- but not: that. However, in-process (poetic process, as acts of consciousness) I'm likewise deeply attracted to experiences of, as Chet Baker puts it: "Let's Get Lost."
When Jim Kacian wrote [the haiku] "pain fading the days back to wilderness" -- I felt instantly an engram of this experience -- as part of what impels me, as an explorer, a searcher; with a sense not of forging, but following. That's where I feel to go: or it leads me, or opening before me, as if in view, though purely imaginal: back to wilderness. Wildernesses. Not chaos and not clarity; a third thing.
The paths wind on, out, dissolve, into senses (sensibilities) of infinity. "Distance is the soul of beauty" (Simone Weil). And then you may meet up with a rock, a tree.
In the Buddhist Lojong mind-training system are 59 slogans. A few are related with absolute Bodhicitta ["the mind that strives toward awakening and compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings" (Wikipedia)]. Primary is "Regard all dharmas as dreams." ("dharmas here means "things," "things in themeselves," "thing-as-such," "stuff.")
"Mind is fundamentally poetic in nature." Soul is "that which deepens" (James Hillman).
We tend to approach reality dualistically: there is literal, i.e "real" experience -- and by contrast there is fantasy: thoughts, dreams, fiction. Both Hillman and Vajrayana Buddhism cause us -- or, call us, to deeper contemplations -- to view consciousness, mind, life, less superficially. Hillman discusses this interestingly in his revolutionary work Revisioning Psychology. And in The Dream and the Underworld and in Healing Fiction.
It's quite significant to me -- this question or Koan -- of regarding all dharmas as dreams. Dreams bring us close to a peculiar experience -- at the moment of the dream it feels completely real, and yet the moment after, what has happened. Something, perhaps something powerful, even life-altering -- yet how do we place it? In Hillman's dreamwork, the key is not to extract meaning or symbolism from the dream (thus ending its story); but rather to return in active imagination -- to attend upon it, attend upon psyche. To learn what psyche wants or asks of us. The image here is that of turning towards a unique, unknown face. (A face likewise can be a landscape, a specific topos.) Hillman describes the process of "de-literalizing the literalizing function." The "literalizing function" is his better term for "ego."
I don't know about you, but for me, living in a purely literal world, as a literal being -- is like psychic death. A kind of pure fundamentalism -- even a form of idiocy. But that was the world I grew up in, the messages I received. So, just say "No!" to literalism (or singular, or rank literalism). Oh, it's been a lovely road -- to finding one's love.
You recall the dual rivers of Eros and Thanatos -- the sense of possession in love, the rapaciousness of death (Persephone in Hades). The great Rivers (psychic streams) of the underworld; Lethe, she of forgetting, her sister Mnemosyne, river of remembrance. Dis-habituation is part of the action of poetry.
This relates to the irruption of habitual mind, a "falling" "slipping" "forgetting" of your step. Suzuki Roshi in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, discussed this concept as "shoshaku jushaku" -- living life "as one continuous mistake" (from Dogen Zenji).
In this context, what is clarity and what do we mean by it? To regard all dharmas as dreams, for Tibetan Buddhism, is a hint -- perhaps a finger hinting at the moon. "shoshaku jushaku" -- similarly. I'm not talking about haiku in particular here -- more about consciousness in creative-poetic flow. I don't think haiku necessarily present a particularly "special" form of poetic consciousness (what do you think?). In fact, we know that some number of poems appearing as haiku were first born in lines of longer poems, in letters, from hypnagogic pre- or post-dream states; from all sorts of places.
"Enriching" -- is a kind of keyword for me. To make ourselves more wealthy, culturally, psychologically -- in embodiment, in actuality, in the fullest sense of the word. The Cartesian dialectic of clarity/chaos seems at best primitive, psychologically. More evident to me -- more relevant is the dialectic: normal/abnormal. Is "ordinary mind" an oxymoron? A tautology? Who are we?
That's why I like the taste of haiku -- it's not an answer, it's food you develop a taste for.
So that's another keyword: nourishment. Sensuous, kinesthetic savor. Truly the pleasure of the text.