Light Out

I was practicing piano in a practice room at Granoff when the light somehow went out, and I enjoyed a few moments of unconstrained playing in the darkness.

Black and white keys

Light out -

Fingers set free.

This week’s discussion is our last on the order of here-and-now, and personally I find that I learned two things that are particularly noteworthy: one is a wrap-up of the structure itself, and the other is the proper way to write poems like Bashō did. Concerning the order of here-and-now, Professor Inouye’s matching of “isolation” with pre-modern, “similarity” with modern, and “diversity” with post-modern particularly strikes me as informative (Lecture 02/25.) I have previously learned from Japanese literature and film that the post-modern is indeed a return to the pre-modern, and now I see that this return also is a return to the world of samsara out of compassion, or “awakening to the high and returning to the low” (Inouye 80.) Secondly, this week is also a fruitful one for me concerning poem writing. Bashō’s poems flow from “the traditional impulse to identify with one’s surroundings,” generalizing and effacing the self (Inouye 76-77.) At the same time, the self, a modern concept, also reveals Bashō’s personal relationship with the outside world (Inouye 78.) The following poem best exemplifies these two tendencies of Bashō’s: “Even woodpeckers / Do not harm this little hut / Perched in summer trees” (Bashō 39.) This poem is apparently selfless; yet his unmistakably personal feelings for his teacher come effusing from the book once we learn the circumstances for the poem’s composition. As I think back on how I have been writing poems for this course, I realize that at times I tend to assert my thoughts and emotions unnecessarily, which may in fact prevent my readers from feeling the poem for themselves. I believe that from now on I will write better poems.

- Zesheng Xiong (George)

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