from the mountain
furuike ya kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto 1 Basho l686 aged 41
old pond a frog rises belly up 2 Mountain 1985 aged 45
Three hundred years apart. In between: the Industrial Revolution, less than a hundred years after Basho's haiku; the bombing of Japan; the Space Race; Three Mile Island (Chernobyl, a few months after my haiku). Irreversible destruction and/or contamination of water, land, and air, and extinction or near extinction of a variety of plants and animals. Genetic engineering. Massive arms build-up with the potential--rather, with the probable annihilation of the planet at any moment, most likely by idiot or computer error.
If I had lived in the patriarchal world surrounding Basho's time, I may or may have not written a haiku similar to his. If Basho were living in my time (also the patriarchal world), there is a good chance that he would write a haiku similar to mine.
It is not out of the question that the next haiku to be written in the same context--if there's anyone to write it, or anyone with the strength and motivation to write about anything in 'nature'--will be:
no pond no frog Anon. undated
The history (primarily, hisstory) of art has shown us that art is the opposite of what has come before and the opposite of what is to come.
It also shows us that art breeds art, culturally and as well as individually. This in itself is neither positive nor negative--at least, not initially. Our past, however, has shown that when art becomes obvious, soon after it will become stale. Generally, we are not even aware that this is occurring--because at that point, after struggling to get 'it' right, we are gratefully comfortable with rules and attitudes we think will enable us to express ourselves, or be true to the 'spirit' of an art. It is an odd phenomenon, however, that as we get 'better' and 'better' at art (after all, now it is a known quantity/quality), at the same time art is slipping away from us. This is because, fundamentally, art--true creative art--is an unknown.
History (and more and more in recent times, herstory) consistently affirms that despite a prevailing esthetic, something 'in the air' often diametrically opposed to what is accepted as art comes charging in which confuses us as artists and as viewers of art. There appear artists who wittingly or unwittingly seem to challenge, destroy, deny the 'old' by producing odd, uncomfortable, awkward, 'non-art.' The outcry is always, 'But that's not . . .' But--true to an underlying innateness that art is open-ended and self-cleansing--it is. This non-art in time of course will be accepted as art, which in time of course will be rebelled against. Art's true tradition is change and, like nature, is cyclical. Birth, harvest, and death. And rebirth.
Much of what I have written over the years 'in haiku' has been/is considered non-haiku. In that light I offer this one:
hot night pushy for women our rights our rites our riots
i think therefore i am pissed
I wrote only one word of this haiku. Descartes, a patriarch of male philosophy, in absentia was kind enough to supply the rest of it: cogito, ergo sum.
To theorize about haiku, one is supposed to know much about its past, especially if one wants to counter some/many of the seemingly ironclad attitudes attached to it. (As with the male bible, one can 'prove' anything one wants to prove in haiku by finding the right passage to quote.) But I decided quite some time ago not to read further about haiku of the past--enough is enough--and have, in fact, spent the last several years trying to become re/ignorant about it all. There is, a- after all, a difference in writing haiku as opposed to rewriting haiku.
On the other hand, I'm not even sure I want to 'write haiku'--though what I write, I deliberately/definitely call haiku. Backasswards as that may sound. Write haiku, make art, have sex. Odd ways--albeit popular phrases--of putting such things. What is it we really mean?
Back to 'i think therefore i am pissed'---I call this a haiku because as it's got so much going against it to be a haiku, it's bound to be one. Breaking it down, 'i think' is a total no-no in haiku philosophy. It seems somewhere in my dim memory, scholarly writing (see page X of book/magazine X by scholar X) says over and over that haiku poets are never to think. Mindlessness, no-thought, ad nauseam. And then there's 'therefore'--what an unhaiku word! And, of course, the awful words 'i am.' That is a truly big no-no. A haiku poet is definitely not supposed to be an 'I.' Vaguely, the word egolessness comes to mind (ooops). Fortunately, I can't remember the other self-depreciating words (and refuse to 'look them up'). Lastly, there's 'pissed'--now that just might be a haiku word (it does have precedent, though as far as I'm concerned, precedents are unnecessary). But, it's doubtful, however, because the word sounds 'past tense,' and, isn't that also a no-no?
So, as far as I can tell (fighting off remembering what I have learned, i.e., have had crammed down my throat, and which I willingly gobbled up), this could not possibly be a haiku. Yea!
Yet, this haiku, of which I wrote only one word and dropped a comma, is one response to the world I see, hear about, feel, sense (of those words, 'hear about' seems least lacking in haiku jargon, i.e., haikuese)--and all too often unwillingly participate in.
When one takes an overall view of the world (I won't 'burden' you with statistics of suffering and institutional lying), haiku in one sense can be seen as being in collusion with the enemy--a milder term would be 'the patriarchy.' If we are not allowed to think (or to be), and haiku is The Path, The Way of Life, The Way of Seeing, even The Truth, and the biggest deception of them all: Oneness (isn't that what the Xs have said?), then obviously we are distracted from what is happening 'out there,' which nonetheless affects us deeply within. Or if we do think about anything beyond 'Nature,' we can't share it in haiku. Way back, a Japanese patriarch no doubt said, 'Hey, I've got it, let's just tell the masses not to think, call it, er, 'haiku.' By buddha, it'll work. And . . . and, wow, get this: we'll have contests!'
To all this I would like to add another haiku:
long time in coming haiku mine not theirs
Brussels Sprout 7:1 1989 America