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Volume 32.3
Fall 2001

editor's speculations


Robert Spiess

The best these Speculations can offer is possibilities.

[Gloss on words of Nietzsche: Human-all-too-Human, ch. iii.]

Haiku is the combination of simplicity and subtlety, clarity and profundity.

[Gloss on words of R. H. Blyth.]

Intellective expressions are held in low esteem in haiku because haiku aim to indicate the suchness or essentiality of entities, and though, perforce, language is needed for haiku expression, the suchness of things or anything that is absolute (the universe, God, pure nothingness) is suprarational and cannot be expressed in conceptual terminology. Therefore, haiku needs another mode to indicate or express its aim, and this mode must be the elicitation of an intuition—intuition being logically non-linguistic, more akin to deep feelings than to mental concepts, and it derives from the aesthetic nature of genuine haiku, rather than from the words per se. In other words, the aesthetic aspects of language in haiku are far more important than the words' denotation—denotation, again, being intellective.

A true haiku poet has no self, yet there is nothing that is not his/her-self.

[Gloss on a passage of Shitou's.]

Underlying all aspects of the structure and aesthetics of haiku is the quality of one's heart.

Write your haiku for the ear, read haiku aloud. The word is/was made for the ear more than for the eye.

[Prompted by a passage by Juan Ramón Jiménez.]

Haiku are the charm of the ephemeral.

This passage has relevance for haiku poets: "We are blind to reality because we are so accustomed to our surroundings and to ourselves that we are no more aware of them. Once we break the fetters of habit by the power of a paradoxical situation or by a flash of intuition, everything becomes a revelation and every day life turns into a wonder." —By ". . . the power of a paradoxical situation . . . " we can incorporate into our haiku the aesthetic juxtaposition of seemingly disparate entities that allow us to have a revelation.

[Quotation by Lama Anagarika Govinda in his Insights of a Himalayan Pilgrim, Dharma Publishing, Berkeley, California, 1991, p. 49.]

It appears that one "reason" why haiku poets should feel rather than think when composing haiku is that psychological research has shown that when persons are performing rather subtle tasks, those who "feel" their way in regard to the tasks tend to be more creative than those who consciously try to think their way through.

[Prompted in part by a passage of Huston Smith's.]

A haiku of true merit is almost always a defeat for the ego.




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