HAIKU: Friday night, I was walking along Boston Avenue to my friend’s house.
breath clouds whitely~
here, now, I truly do
IMAGE: Matsuo Basho and Sora
PARAGRAPH: On Evanescence and Form (pp. 74-80) and Narrow Road to the Deep North
I think I’ve finally come to some sort of understanding about the relationship between evanescence and form, the momentary and the lasting, the changing and the unchanging. It’s a delicate balance I have to keep in my mind so I have to be careful how I think about it. Bashou’s writings and the section from Evanescence and Form were particularly helpful this week though. Take Inouye’s discussion on Bashou’s principles on “sincerity” and poetics, for instance: Bashou believed that both the eternally unchanging traditions or foundations of poetry (fueki) and the moment-by-moment manifestations of it (ryuuko) came from makoto, or “the self . . . as it established itself as a nexus of sincerity” (76). Further on, Inouye concludes that “Bashou’s poetic wanderings . . . are formal manifestations of transcendental values as they make themselves felt as nonsymbolic symbols” (80). Together, the entire discussion helped me take away a conceptual framework of lasting transcendence versus formal manifestations that in turn finally helped me find a way to balance the ideas of permanence and impermanence being somewhat like the two sides of a coin – opposites, never the same, yet nevertheless one thing. Poetics are always changing in their expressions, manifestations, “principles,” yet the values they aspire to, the chords and notes they strike in people’s hearts do not change; thus poetics are both modern and traditional, a thing both in flux yet everlasting. I’m reminded of the opening poem to the Houjouki: The flow of the river is an unchanging thing yet for that reason, the water is always changing – the river is both changing and unchanging. I think I understand now why the Kougetsudai from last week is a prime example of how form asserts meaning: It may seem like an arbitrary and ultimately meaningless activity, yet the form of the Kougetsudai and the quasi-ritualistic maintenance of it provides a means to access some transcendental value, and it’s even more significant because we can access it here, now. That means is the formal manifestation of that transcendental value but over time, this manifestation may and will change; people will abandon the upkeep of the Kougetsudai or maybe even modernize it, just as Bashou modernized poetics “without being dismissive of tradition” (75), yet the pursuance of that value has not changed, thus forming the everlasting, “traditional” aspect. Now, though, that I understand this balance between evanescence and form, and how the tension and balance between them give rise to meaning, I feel saddened because I had assumed that from such understanding, I would see a way to find or create or see meaning in this life I live in this world. It may be a selfish thing to ask, but now that I understand intellectually, what does it mean for me personally, emotionally? What do I do with such knowledge or comprehension now? How can I utilize it for myself?