6 Maman Philippe

As I stepped out onto my porch:

Snow falling –


I leave my house.



Basho’s liminal role in Japanese culture led to “creation of new poetic associations with place (haimakura) and new poetic resonances” (Inouye, 76). This new view of place was less closely tied to a literal home and moves us towards a new way of approaching evanescence and a new definition of self as it relates to its surroundings. “So doing, it also led to the conceptualization of a new countering form of permanence, namely, the self, as it began to establish itself as a nexus of sincerity, and against the flux of its perceived surroundings” (Inouye, 76). This notion of the self as permanent and separate from its surroundings is evident in the tension between high and low that we have been discussing. A more literal and descriptive view of reality emerges here and acts as a balance to the snapshot nature of hakai. We see the self as existing on a concrete level with the world, in addition to being able to examine the world from a more abstract or elevated position. The world around us is always changing, yet the form under which we interact with our surroundings will always be the same. This is displayed in Basho’s description of The Pine of Takekuma in that he tells us how the tree has been repeatedly chopped down over time and always regrows. He is highlighting the fact that even though the way in which we interact with the world around us remains the same, the world continues to develop. “I was told that in generation after generation the pine has been felled, only to be replaced by another grafted onto the original trunk. It now seems once again to have attained its full splendor of a thousand years, a magnificent sight indeed” (Basho, 67). You can at once see the moment in his work and accept the passive sense of not being to control that moment. Basho has become T.S. Elliot’s ‘still point’ in a moving world. Through the mechanism of travel Basho tells me that exploration is how we achieve a sense of self, not just through the examination of our current reality. “What we usually understand as the modern self actually forms by way of the objective, the nonemotional, and the lonely” (Inouye, 77).  The pursuit itself becomes the realization of the nature of our world. The exploration of our world is where the dichotomy between the ever changing reality and our stationary role in it exists.



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