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Creative Blooms 13: Haiku and the Third Table

Haiku and the Third Table

I would like to take as an object the entire object of haiku, considering haiku as a genre — not a collection of objects but an indeterminate, withheld object that no matter how many times it is examined in all of the sensual properties and perspectives of all the poems arising as forms of haiku, the object “haiku” — sensed as an essential aesthetic — is an object that cannot be defined by any declarative statement, such as in the form of “My mother liked drinking hard cider.”

Graham Harman, in proposing Object-Oriented Ontology (2018) suggests there is a “third table.” Two of the tables we are familiar with these days. The “two tables” refers to the conundrum suggested by Sir Arthur Eddington. In 1919, Arthur boated to an island during a complete solar eclipse, measured how light bent around the sun and made Einstein instantly famous. He also said in his 1927 Gifford Lecture (to paraphrase): “First, the table of everyday experience: it is comparatively permanent, it is coloured, and above all it is substantial. Second, the table of science: it is mostly emptiness with numerous, sparsely scattered electric charges rushing about with great speed.” Harman argues that neither of these tables is primary, that there is a third table. The first table is that of sensual experience. Yet if we follow this empiricism definitively, this table, made only of sensual qualities, could not exist as the same table in different rooms, lighting conditions, or seasons. There is something about the table that we immediately recognize as essential to its being an “I” (not a conscious I, but an I as an identity), apart from its sensual qualities. There is something more to the reality of the table than its sensual qualities. Likewise, as the pre-Socratics opined (about water, air, fire, etc., as indivisibilities of our cosmos), we can take the attitude that the sensual table doesn’t really exist, it is an illusion. As we plumb the depths of its structure to the flavors of quarks and Planck length, only then can we begin to discern its true nature. But if this were so, how is it that such an examination could predict the emergent properties of “table” and this particular table, from (random) infinitesimals? The problem is that of emergence.

From the postmodern perspective (the flip side of table two), we can say there is no sensual table with qualities, because our perceptions are themselves completely relative and language too is relative; in fact, there are no objects at all, only subjects, performances (certainly, of texts); all is in flux, indeterminate, and indeed there are no “authors,” whatever they are. The problem here is twofold; one, you can take a table around the world, and find that, unsurprisingly, humans will generally relate to it as a table. That aside, here the problem isn’t emergence, it’s change. For example, my son, a musician, might turn this table upside-down and take a photo of it in a composition that becomes an album cover. He also might play it (nice sound, that top) on a track within his album. The problem of relativism is that there is no excess of possibility given by the immanent relationships. The unknown possibility — the hidden “excess” of an object — is not predicted by its relations, the so-called “actor-network theory” (of Latour and others).

So what is the third table, if it’s neither the infinitesimal quanta, nor the relations of actors and actions and social relations? Let us say that there is something of the reality of the table we can’t partake of completely — yet our indirect notions, like our indirect speech, serve to indicate this table whose noumenal essence we cannot know exactly. We do this best through indirect speech, and especially metaphor.

The “wine dark sea” is definitely not the “sea wine dark.” Note that metaphors are not reversible, as “Drinking hard cider was something my mother liked” certainly is. What is the sea, in this case? What does Homer’s metaphor, indirect as it is, indicate as to the true nature of the sea? Importantly, in whatever way we might answer, no declarative set of statements can possibly reveal more of the nature of the object indicated by the metaphor than the metaphor itself indicates. Additionally, this particular metaphor may be some 3,000 years old, and though it has traveled through languages and cultures, through various relative relations throughout history, something essential of its nature or reality pertains: the metaphor works — through time, language and cultures. We cannot know how this metaphor was originally received, yet like a table placed in rooms through seasons, we recognize its essential poetry instantly.

So too with eyes. Now we are in a position to consider haiku as an object:

non binary below blue ocean eyes

I find this poem beautiful.

Regarding the present discussion, like a table, this work (like any haiku) is a familiar object composed of a short grouping of words put together cogently enough for the reader to take a seat and consider. Yet there is a metaphoric quality to the poetry that does not allow it to rest on the surface of sensual impressions, this first table. The second table (of science) is atomizing: let’s examine the particles, the parts of speech, the way or sense and weave of each word, the rhythms and the words together; consult linguistics textbooks, and cognitive science. As this is done, the object itself becomes superficial and it’s our search for a greater depth of scientific or empirical knowledge that takes precedence, as an act of “undermining” the object.

On the other hand, we can move in a totalizing, holistic direction: take a postmodern exploration into overarching generic social relations and flux, examining the sensibility of “non binary” (and all the “b” words present); the implications of “below” and “blue” and “ocean eyes,” and given the current societal context, transgender and postcolonial perspectives as well. Now the object becomes deeper than we can ever get at, as there are a near-infinite number of relations to consider; and you as a reader are as well confined by your own history, class, gender, age, etc. — ad infinitum. The object itself becomes obscured by multifarious contexts, disallowing any possibility for even indirect object essentiality, or object (rather than subject) change. In fact, there is no object! This is an act of “overmining” the object.

So, atomization (undermining) leads to an overly superficial object, as its uniqueness is dispensed with, and the possibility of emergence is voided. On the flip side, examining relations and relative relatedness holistically, the object (and perceiver) becomes but a subject. And subject to contexts that deepen the object (overmining), leads to invisibility or even ostensible nonexistence. In consequence, the poem as an object is nearly erased by relative contextual pre- and post-amble, losing any “excess” — that is, potentiality for transmutation and transportation (change) that resides in metaphor, and in aesthetic persuasion, resonance, response. An excommunication of the object: context supersedes content, towards 100% — where you stop nobody knows.

The “third table” is not anthropomorphic, a bold claim made by Harman. I understand this as a general statement that — with any object—its reality is not dependent on human consciousness or perception. This may work for a table (in Harman’s ontology a table has relations with Jupiter and the Thames, whether humans are around or not) — but not for art, which can’t exist (Harman states) without people. It’s surprising to learn that several prominent formalist art critics have disagreed with this latter statement. The point here though is that there’s an aspect to the reality of an object that isn’t dependent on consciousness. However, when it’s an art object, like a poem, the relationship concern is human. Then, why the insistence on objects having a reality apart from human consciousness? Because up to this point, modern philosophy has insisted on maintaining a strict dialectic between mind and world — really, mind versus world. For Harman, the full reality of objects resides apart from or autonomous from mind — this proposition has been termed “weird realism.”

We might ask — are there autonomous objects inferred by the haiku poem? Is the haiku poem an emergent object, a reality, a world?

Maybe so.

Particularly, haiku presents a formal foregrounding of gap and disjunctive effect—and this is not an idle conjecture: from Bashō’s “eye-opening” school on into the intercultural postmodern, the question of mind and world being “leaps,” or conversely, “mixing” as integral to haiku metaphor has been in play, regarding the roots of haiku poetics.

Is there anything in these poems below that is not metaphor? Where resides the object before your eyes; outside, inside?

solo red light a dream falls out of color

soothsayer the goat’s eyes

nigh twilight milk light trickling springs within

moonrise
some tears
just are

These are exquisite haiku — what is your experience?

For those of philosophical bent, this last decade marks an interesting move in philosophy away from both postmodern relativism and empirical determinism, and towards a love (philos-) of knowledge, rather than knowledge itself: a philosophia with roots in art and aesthetics. I’d recommend Harman’s book, especially “Chapter 2: Aesthetics is the Root of All Philosophy.” While Object-Oriented Ontology is in an early, formative stage, for those who have avoided postmodern Continental philosophy since its takeover of academe from the ’80s, rapprochement may be at hand. Or table.

Let me know if this perspective on haiku is useful. Your comments are welcome.

Authors:
Roberta Beary (Heliosparrow, 8 June 2020)
Peter Jastermsky (Heliosparrow, 5 June 2020)
Gregory Longenecker (Heliosparrow, 5 June 2020)
Victor Ortiz (Heliosparrow, 29 April 2020)
Tiffany Shaw-Diaz (Heliosparrow, 31 March 2020)

2018. Harman, Graham, Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything (Penguin). Blurb: “Graham Harman is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at SCI-Arc, Los Angeles. A key figure in the contemporary speculative realism movement in philosophy and [known] for his development of the field of object-oriented ontology, he was named by Art Review magazine as one of the 100 most influential figures in international art.”

Two video lectures:

Graham Harman: Anthropocene Ontology
TAB Symposium: Graham Harman. Why Architecture and Beauty Need Each Other.

Podcast:

On Graham Harman’s “The Third Table” Weird Studies, Episode 8 · April 4th, 2018

Cf.: ‘en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Object-oriented_ontology’.
Cf.: ‘en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Actor–network theory’.

*

Richard Gilbert, professor of English Literature at Kumamoto University in Japan, is the author of Poetry as Consciousness: Haiku Forests, Space of Mind, and an Ethics of Freedom (illustrated by Sabine Miller, Kebunsha Co. Ltd., 2018, ISBN 978-4-86330-189-4), The Disjunctive Dragonfly (Red Moon Press, 2008, rev. 2013), and Poems of Consciousness (Red Moon Press, 2008), among others. He is also director of the Kon Nichi Translation Group, whose most recent book is the tour de force Haiku as Life: A Kaneko Tohta Omnnibus (Red Moon Press, 2019). In January 2020, he announced the creation of Heliosparrow Poetry Journal, an evolution of the Haiku Sanctuary forum.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Thanks for writing about the Third Table philosophy and its relevance to art, specifically Haiku and expression.
    .
    I have studied Harman’s idea and find it shifts my sense of ‘being.’
    .
    Through the body’s sense faculty I know there is a table, visual, tactile, useful, no surprise. Through the mind and my knowledge of science there are constituents, there is the molecular/quanta; the table.
    .
    And the nature of reality includes a third table, as I understand Harman is teaching. These two and also the object itself, not embraceable in entirety to my human reason, it ‘is’ the object itself, the third aspect of the table.
    .
    Hmm?!!
    .
    Like we each cannot entirely know another soul, except in part, yet we love and attempt to express our inner being and deeper longings.
    .
    How to express experiential knowledge? How does one execute transfer, interact, engage, one with another, share beyond utility to the deepest understanding–we each being singular and separate to another?
    .
    Through love?
    .
    Through art, music, words of poetry? Metaphor tells of object beyond physical property.
    .
    The disjunctive/conjunctive words of haiku open space in the psyche. Richard asks us to observe haiku as an object unto itself.
    .
    The idea of the third table opens both respect of separation and the realization there is further reality beyond subjective reason. There is space for desire and love here. Such a way of thinking tells me all things are new if you choose to observe.
    .
    We have all had this odd jumping out sensation of objects when we focus intently; something hidden is revealed?
    .
    It is true also in one sense all reason is subjective we think… we are. Yet if each thing ‘is’ we are part of reality in a much less familiar way. Familiarity may be a mechanism of sorts, to help manage the load of potential experience we face at every moment. Intriguing ideas.
    .
    Existence of the other beyond my thought and recognition, means the whole is more than my knowledge of its parts.
    .
    Words themselves carry baggage of their own, their meaning is unstable. This could include wonderment, expansiveness, emotional attachment, recognition evasion, and interpretation. The leanness of words is the art of transference in haiku.
    .
    And as Richard pointed out, the undermining or overmining may lead to non-understanding. I sense the object in haiku floats somewhat in my mind’s eye, like a focus or adjustment when I read. That’s how I find the hit, which may be different to another person’s interpretation. This is an interesting aspect of reading haiku.
    .
    Essentially, the characteristic of the totality of object being is UNKNOWABLE. This is similarly at the core of OOO.
    .
    A drawing out of aspect of object beyond the first and second tables of understanding is achieved in words by metaphor, and juxtaposition, that provoke engagement, reaction, cognition; such expressions describe the dynamics of words in the poetics of haiku. The meaning or ‘object’ leaps about in the geometric configurations of interpretation, resounding words of the psyche, writer to reader, the art of communicating within the poetics of haiku.
    .
    I enjoyed this essay, applying the theory to practice. I’d like to learn more, I feel Object Oriented Ontology is a philosophy intrinsic to harmonics in the full nature of human existence. How sure are we of the nature of the reality we find ourselves in? I would agree haiku as an object opens potential for deeper understanding.

  2. Since Plato has been mentioned here, it might be useful to consider what more or less at the beginning of his philosophical meanderings he said about a table.

    Here’s a table! Whatever has come into your mind represents whatever it is you’re thinking of – we’ll each have our own idea. Whatever it might be, try what Plato suggested: take away the shape, colour, size, texture, solidity, perspective – all its attributes – and consider what you’re left with. Just the essence of ‘tableness’ says Plato, and that, as Popper pointed out long ago, makes him one of the enemies of the open society. His thinking has infiltrated the Western mind and supports & justifies much political chicanery and, ultimately, warfare.

    Since the word metaphor has been mentioned, let’s think about what it means: it’s a combination of two Greek words μετα & φορος meaning ‘bearing across from’, ‘carrying from one field of something-or-other to another’, ‘going beyond’ – it’s a potent word. All words are metaphors in the sense that they carry us across from sensory experience to, let’s say, linguistic experience, two completely separate fields, as Vigoysky points out – it’s essential to hold it in mind that there is no necessary relationship between the two: the word ‘table’ will put into your mind something quite different from what’s in my mind – I was thinking of the one I crashed my skull on the brown corner of in our dining room on the 6th August 1945; there’s no way you could possibly have that particular table in your mind remembering the news of the wanton destruction of Hiroshima. Plato’s essence of ‘tableness’ is an abstraction from all possible tables but that’s certainly not the way he saw it; as Professor Joad will have said, “It all depends on what kind of table you mean…”

    Plato himself admits that it’s a pretty story he’s invented: before we were born we existed in a place (whereabouts unspecified) in which we had the beatific experience of rubbing shoulders with the Forms of things: ‘tableness’ would be a relatively innocuous example; far more dangerous, because the concept lives on in the Western mind, as (what ought to be regarded as intellectual constructs) ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’, ‘beauty’, ‘sovereignty’, ‘justice’, ‘consciousness’ and so on. The moment we were born, goes the story, we forgot what it was like to understand such things and so we spend the rest of our lives seeking for their meaning. This is, of course, codswallop. But it’s a very dangerous form of codswallop. Bombs are dropped over abstract concepts like ‘freedom’ & ‘democracy’ – many thousands of innocents died in Iraq because Bush & Bliar conned us into imagining that ‘freedom & democracy’ was what it was all about rather than oil.

    Not only does Plato’s pretty story con us into thinking that there’s a sort of celestial waiting room and a grimmer departure lounge (metaphors) but it also dumps on us the snappy apophthegm ‘essence precedes existence’. Sartre, like Aristotle long before him, quite rightly turns Plato upside down for us: on the contrary, existence, he says, precedes essence; out of all the things of experience, and in order to simplify the expression of it, we invent abstractions and then persist in pretending that they have some definite ‘meaning’ when in fact, very conveniently for politicians and others who depend on abstractions for their livelihood (popes & priests & philosophers, for example), they mean whatever you want them to mean. “It all depends what you mean by…”

    For example, the word ‘China’ is a current abstraction we are being shovelled into believing has some definite meaning in itself when, for Western politicians it’s just a weapon of abuse (metaphor), the enemy without, contrived to distract us from the enemy within. Around 1900 it was called the ‘yellow peril’ which preceded the ‘red menace’, then the ‘Islamic Plot’ – abstractions, dangerous metaphors, all. Dangerous because, as some commentators have pointed out, the invented spat with China could well lead to WW3. Words are that dangerous and Plato started it all.

    China is a place full of people who, just like you & me, get up in the morning, have something for breakfast, go to work if they’re lucky (or unlucky, depending which way you look at ‘work’ – an abstraction you can fill with whatever meaning you like), watch telly, play with the kids, yawn and go to bed. Yet we’re being brain-washed into imagining it’s a bogeyperson of the first water (metaphor).

    What’s all this got to do with haiku? The very word ‘haiku’ is an abstraction – it means whatever you want it to mean; call something a ‘haiku’ and, of course, then it is most certainly a ‘haiku’ and not a ‘whookie’. The ‘haiku genre’ is an abstraction into which, like a dustbin (metaphor), one can dump a whole strange gallimaufry of things.

    Were one to subscribe to the Platonic model of reality one could say that

    non binary below blue ocean eyes

    is a contribution to the abstraction ‘beauty’ – it can be called ‘beautiful’ – but “it all depends what you mean by ‘beautiful’…”; it is obviously the result of the abstraction ‘consciousness’, some kind of internal ‘wrestle with words’, to use TSEliot’s nice term (a metaphor), and it’s obvious from the original text somewhere up there that it requires considerable explication, or wrestle with possible ‘meaning’ (abstraction), taking us far beyond eyes & oceans.

    The word ‘binary’ is an abstraction – it means whatever you want it to mean: ‘frog/plop’, ‘on/off’, ‘starving/replete’, algebraic x & y… Therefore ‘non binary’ must presumably be something to do with a unity of opposites – a frog & a plop both in the same instant, a love affair both on & off, Schrodinger’s cat, both dead & alive, the not so blue (‘below’) of somebody’s eyes & an ocean – take away the shape, size, colour, texture, solidity (or lack of it), perspective… and consider what you’re left with. Just a unity of ‘oceanity’ & ‘eyefulness’. An intriguing intellectual exercise which took half an hour to work out; in another half hour I might come up with something different. Possibly allusive, pointing a finger towards ‘non-binariness’, but not telling us about it:-

    sitting by the ocean
    telling tales
    of oceans long ago

    Then there’s ‘consciousness’ – an abstraction, meaning whatever you want it to mean; a metaphor for whatever you imagine goes on in your noddle; to follow Sartre, our experience of its many possible connotations precedes any ‘essence’ (metaphor) it might represent.

    There’s ordinary daily awareness during which you can operate from either left or right brain consciousness without being aware of the difference; there’s visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory or gustatory consciousness’; there’s environmental, what-you-can-do, belief-holding, or identity consciousness; there’s intellectual, emotional, physical or spiritual consciousness; there’s dualistic consciousness as opposed to Zen consciousness (satori consciousness); there’s some ‘aesthetic’ combination of all these in the human noddle; or there’s the higher, capital C, Consciousness in the 4th Way model that can come about through frequent repetition of the mantra, ‘this is me here now being me here & now’.

    The question is – what kind of ‘consciousness’ (the abstraction) is appropriate for the concoction of true haiku rather than conventional poems? Which particular ‘consciousness’ do we use?

  3. The prayer after communion at mass this morning was
    “Graciously be present to your people and lead those you have imbued with heavenly mysteries to pass from former ways to newness of life.”
    .
    Our mystical prayer traditions are woven of strands drawn from kataphatic and apophatic theology as expressed in the passages from poems by the English metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan.
    .
    I SAW eternity the other night
    Like a great Ring of pure and endless light,
    All calm, as it was bright,
    And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years
    Driv’n by the spheres
    Like a vast shadow mov’d, In which the world
    And all her train were hurl’d:
    .
    The World (Henry Vaughan)
    .
    .

    THERE is in God (some say)
    A deep, but dazzling darkness; As men here
    Say it is late and dusky, because they
    See not all clear
    O for that night! where I in him
    Might live invisible and dim.
    .
    The Night (Henry Vaughan
    .
    .
    The third table is perhaps indicated by the Romantic William Blake.
    .
    He who binds to himself a joy
    Does the winged life destroy
    But he who kisses the joy as it flies
    Lives in eternity’s sun rise.
    .
    Eternity (William Blake)

  4. nigh twilight milk light trickling springs within

    The use of language in this one is just sublime, it rolls across the tongue as a melody irrespective on sense, but the depth of the words evokes a sensuous and playful kindling of some passionate inner flame or font of gnosis. I will refrain from overmining the object to death.

    I do think that all of these ku precipitate in the mind whole, as experiences of themselves. Though I must say that overmining in and of itself is a pleasurable activity that can add to our sense of the spaces these poems create; exploring the contours and boundaries of the poems for greater intimacy. I don’t know that anybody approaches any art as one single table, but synthesizes multiple approaches and forms a superposed experience of the object in layers.

    This essay is an important reminder to not lose the tree in front of us for a preconceived notion of forest, nor break it into a collection of branch, bark and leaf, to not lose sight of its “treeness,” and surely, there is an kernel within each ku that we perceive in fragments and from different angles, though I would say that an individual perhaps is incapable of grasping the totality of that third table or ever pinning it completely down.

  5. The prayer after communion at mass this morning was
    “Graciously be present to your people and lead those you have imbued with heavenly mysteries to pass from former ways to newness of life.”

    Our mystical prayer traditions are woven of strands drawn from kataphatic and apophatic theology as expressed in the passages from poems by the English metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan.

    I SAW eternity the other night
    Like a great Ring of pure and endless light,
    All calm, as it was bright,
    And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years
    Driv’n by the spheres
    Like a vast shadow mov’d, In which the world
    And all her train were hurl’d:

    The World (Henry Vaughan)

    THERE is in God (some say)
    A deep, but dazzling darkness; As men here
    Say it is late and dusky, because they
    See not all clear
    O for that night! where I in him
    Might live invisible and dim.

    The Night (Henry Vaughan

    The third table is perhaps indicated by the Romantic William Blake.

    He who binds to himself a joy
    Does the winged life destroy
    But he who kisses the joy as it flies
    Lives in eternity’s sun rise.

    Eternity (William Blake)

  6. The current President of the United States became so because of his infinite charm and wit and his remarkable ability to wax eloquently. I got my permanent job as Chief Global Fashion Designer because I praised the Emperor’s New Clothes for many years; therefore, since I am a person of some distinction, when I say that what I just saw cantering down the road is a unicorn then, of course, it is without doubt a unicorn and this tub of jellied eels is actually a box of the most exquisite gem stones. It is existentially complete rubbish to assert that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if I say this whookie is a haiku then it must be so. When, more or less a hundred years ago, Luigi Pirandello wrote a play called ‘Right You Are If You Think So’ he was wasting his ink.

    1. Yes! 🙂
      .
      .
      old circus site
      the lingering scent
      of its sawdust
      .
      Alan Summers
      World Haiku Series (2019 Akita Haiku Network, Japan)
      .
      .

      In later Vedic texts and modern literature dedicated to Indian traditions, Māyā connotes a “magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem”. WIKIPEDIA

      .
      .
      .

      “We both have Greek and Roman coins and terracotta oil-lamps for tourists, and the old man found at least one real unicorn, although we are not yet quite sure.”
      .
      From the Best Small Fictions nominated “The Wonder Room” haibun
      by Alan Summers
      .
      pub. Red River Book of Haibun ed. Paresh Tiwari and Steve Hodge (November 2019)
      https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/8194272653/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Red+River+Book+of+Haibun+Vol+1&qid=1573767364&sr=8-1

      .
      .

      Māyā is also a spiritual concept connoting “that which exists, but is constantly changing and thus is spiritually unreal,” and the “power or the principle that conceals the true character of spiritual reality.” In Advaita Vedanta school of hindu philosophy, Maya is an illusion which makes the world appear as duality. WIKIPEDIA
      .
      .
      Are we are on tenterhooks or meat hooks then?
      .
      .
      winter wheat
      a breeze rattles
      the wire act
      .
      Alan Summers
      Australian Haiku Society Winter Solstice Haiga Kukai 2020
      .
      .

    2. Thanks, Richard. This essay, and some subsequent reading of Object-Oriented Ontology, is suggesting something so other than “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” that it stops my beauty-greedy (and conflict-seeking) mind. Mountains are really mountains; tables are really tables; the lily is really lily, if only —or especially!—for the moment.

    3. My comment of 23rd July is nothing but irony & sarcasm.

      To call the ‘binary’ line ‘beautiful’ is laughable.

      *

      the pied wagtail in the bathroom is severely existential

  7. ‘Yesterday’s utopians confront today’ is a theme I hope to address in the next installment. The “ghost orchid” “shadow languages we have as animals”. When the larger space is needed . . . “a large expanse of nature in order to do so. It felt very large to me in its essence” — as measures of philosophy too, blending with poetry, a philopoetics. The purpose of Creative Blooms is non-dualistic enrichment and encouragement (I too wish to be encouraged). As a postscript I wanted to mention that overmining and undermining (and their combination, “duomining”) remain savagely social engagements that build our world as they ignore the reality of the object. If the object were phenomenal alone, we could return to Emerson’s romantic transparent eyeball that “by degrees we may come to know the primitive sense of the permanent objects of nature, so that the world shall be to us an open book, and every form significant of its hidden life and final cause.” An object oriented ontology is more akin to a negative theology. Its interest lies in what isn’t quite explicable, and in what is weird. As a group, the speculative realists have written on Lovecraft.

    The mood of finitudes as patinas of age in stages of decomposition and compost echos self into historical selves. I remember walking among the ruins of Aphrodisias — the bare outline of the Hippodrome, the largely intact amphitheater, and scattered tons of stone spread like broken hands — standing among cairns of sacred altars buried beneath sacred altars of earlier cultures, each a resting body under the silent tongue of sky arcing over the valley. Infinity is easy by comparison.

    “Michelle‘s ‘Organizing energy’ and Peggy Holman’s bringing complexity out of chaos both resonate with me. Alan’s comment that we are but ‘travelers made up of dust motes’”

    “Mine was an entirely intuitive sense of the word, but after a brief exploration I now understand emergence in a broader sense to mean a more refined order arising from a field of lesser coherence and even chaos, giving birth to something novel, and may I add perhaps more perfect in its geometry or vibration than its surroundings.”

    “Plato’s Forms, and the shadows, can make us wonder what is reality and what is pure illusion.” “an eye round an eye”

    non binary

    “ghost orchid”

    What is the object but a poem, or a fragment? And yet complete in its allure as reality. The object is neither supernatural nor superstitious — there is no claim to omniscience or sublime beings wielding invisible force. Yet the wine dark sea broods and beckons. In this week, renewed violence, “bat-shit crazy” ideological ignorance (to paraphrase Prof. Heather Heying), and a running dash toward hysteria. I wonder what these objects are, given the ruins of Aphrodisias and our dearth of sacred altars. For romance’ sake, the poem, a ghost orchid, inhabits a wild space, not a dream, hinting at philosophy.

    The love of knowledge is something those stones held along with the day’s heat. So too Roberta’s poem. One leaves then another follows; embarkations, emergence, and a scrying.

  8. This is an article I will re-read again and again. It takes me back to my wonderful graduate studies in Comparative Literature at Vanderbilt University! Perhaps I shall attempt to allow more metaphoric haiku to emerge. Michelle‘s ‘Organizing energy’ and Peggy Holman’s bringing complexity out of chaos both resonate with me. Alan’s comment that we are but ‘travelers made up of dust motes’ is a thought I’ve played with but have not expressed as succinctly as he has done. Thanks to all for your thought-provoking discussion. Thank you Richard for expanding my narrowing walls in this Time of Covid.

    1. Thank you Peggy! 🙂
      .
      .

      an attic window sill
      a wasp curls
      into its own dust
      .
      Alan Summers
      Haiku of Merit: Ginko & Kukai event with Professor Hoshino Tsunehiko (1997)
      The Omnibus Anthology, Haiku and Senryu, Hub Editions (2001)
      Yomiuri Shimbun Go-Shichi-Go On-Line Language Lab (Japan, 2005)
      .
      .
      Aren’t we all components hanging together just for a few score years until recycled into the next unit of existence? Whether as a new human, or something humble, we currently stand on a small planet hurtling through space which in itself is just a small part of a partly understood universe.
      .
      .
      It’s all a great adventure, and poets can and should approach it with trepidation, awe, and above all, a pinch of salt and with humour! 🙂
      .
      .
      OVER TO FEYNMAN:
      .
      “It is a great adventure to contemplate the universe, beyond man, to contemplate what it would be like without man, as it was in a great part of its long history and as it is in a great majority of places.
      .
      When this objective view is finally attained, and the mystery and majesty of matter are fully appreciated, to then turn the objective eye back on man viewed as matter, to view life as part of this universal mystery of greatest depth, is to sense an experience which is very rare, and very exciting.
      .
      It usually ends in laughter and a delight in the futility of trying to understand what this atom in the universe is, this thing—atoms with curiosity—that looks at itself and wonders why it wonders.
      .
      Well, these scientific views end in awe and mystery, lost at the edge in uncertainty, but they appear to be so deep and so impressive that the theory that it is all arranged as a stage for God to watch man’s struggle for good and evil seems inadequate.
      .
      Some will tell me that I have just described a religious experience. Very well, you may call it what you will.
      .
      Then, in that language I would say that the young man’s religious experience is of such a kind that he finds the religion of his church inadequate to describe, to encompass that kind of experience. The God of the church isn’t big enough.”
      .
      ― Richard P. Feynman, The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist
      .
      .
      .
      .
      stardust . . .

      the humans quietly
      reassemble
      .
      Alan Summers
      Stardust Haiku Issue 41 – May 2020 ed. Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
      .
      .

  9. Thank you, Richard, for another deep dive into the mystery that is haiku.

    I was particularly drawn to the concept of emergence, if you don’t mind a little aside, as just this week I found myself attempting another haiku about the ghost orchid, a famously rapturous looking plant I had seen in Florida before it had blooms, and the word that came forth, and which I placed at the top of the haiku page, was “emergence”. Mine was an entirely intuitive sense of the word, but after a brief exploration I now understand emergence in a broader sense to mean a more refined order arising from a field of lesser coherence and even chaos, giving birth to something novel, and may I add perhaps more perfect in its geometry or vibration than its surroundings. In Florida I had strongly felt when viewing this unassuming ghost orchid stick plant – through binoculars and seen high up in a cypress tree – that it was in the process of organizing energy, pulling together a higher expression from a matrix of sorts that was the surrounding forest and that this required a large expanse of nature in order to do so. It felt very large to me in its essence.

    I just found an interesting read by Peggy Holman (at PeggyHolman.com) which refers to emergence in terms of “high order complexity arising out of chaos.” Yes. As a gardener I have to believe that really exquisite flowers perform exactly this kind of high alchemy, as do exquisite haiku.

    With a deep bow to Nick Virgilio, whose following haiku continues to expand:

    lily:
    out of the water . . .
    out of itself

    Thank you again to Richard for continuing to challenge us to expand our poetic horizons, and to all the poets whose remarkable work is included here. I strongly believe that as haiku poets we lift one another up to a greater whole.

  10. Plato’s Forms, and the shadows, can make us wonder what is reality and what is pure illusion. The conundrum is that everything is Maya, (Sanskrit: “magic” or “illusion”), and yet we will still feel pain if we stub our toe, or suffer pain if a dentist is not professional enough.
    .
    .
    Are looking through the amber, from the outside, or from the inside, or are we the insect?
    .
    .
    through the amber glass medulla peel thawing
    .
    Alan Summers
    Horrorku ed Thomas Tillton ( July 2020)
    .
    .
    And perhaps we are not as we think we are, but some traveller made up of dust motes, after all?
    .
    .
    Isekai dreams
    I tread as lightly as rain
    in District 9
    .
    Alan Summers
    .
    Publication credit: HAIKU DIALOGUE – the way of the itinerant ed Craig Kittner (July 1st 2020)
    .
    Commentary by Craig Kittner:
    https://www.thehaikufoundation.org/2020/07/01/haiku-dialogue-the-way-of-the-itinerant/
    .
    .
    .
    We are determined to mostly see a reality that doesn’t really exist, but it is so real to us that we are trapped within it. The covid-19 pandemic has revealed aspects of the fake reality, but not nearly enough to drop the scales fully from our eyes.
    .
    .

    lemon-scented hospital beds how they hold our hands as blackbirds
    .
    Alan Summers
    .
    Publication credit: Weird Laburnum (July 1st 2020)

    .
    .
    .
    Are we but shadows in a shadow land?
    .
    .
    The Forms are expounded upon in Plato’s dialogues and general speech, in that every object or quality in reality has a form: dogs, human beings, mountains, colors, courage, love, and goodness.
    .
    Form answers the question, “What is that?” Plato was going a step further and asking what Form itself is. He supposed that the object was essentially or “really” the Form and that the phenomena were mere shadows mimicking the Form; that is, momentary portrayals of the Form under different circumstances. WIKIPEDIA
    Theory of forms: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    .
    .
    I sometimes wonder if we are drifting in shadows believing everything is tangible purely because we can touch, taste, feel, kick, lick, bump into it, fall off it, have no choice but to walk around it.
    .
    .
    These Forms are the essences of various objects: they are that without which a thing would not be the kind of thing it is. For example, there are countless tables in the world but the Form of tableness is at the core; it is the essence of all of them. Plato’s Socrates held that the world of Forms is transcendent to our own world (the world of substances) and also is the essential basis of reality. Super-ordinate to matter, Forms are the most pure of all things. Furthermore, he believed that true knowledge/intelligence is the ability to grasp the world of Forms with one’s mind. WIKIPEDIA
    Theory of forms: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    .
    .

    the shadow languages we have as animals
    .
    Alan Summers
    .
    Publication credit: Weird Laburnum (November 2019)
    haikai/monostich series Mistero due volte
    https://weirdlaburnum.wordpress.com/2019/11/09/mistero-due-volte/
    .
    .
    It’s all fun in the short dash of our lives, and here I am, tapping words from a round table in my kitchen! 🙂
    .
    Alan

  11. Excellent article.
    At first read and even on my second read, I didn’t understand the ku you have explained in detail.

    non binary below blue ocean eyes

    Yes, your explanation helped and I like this ku, mainly because I now understand it :))
    Thanks Richard- for constantly pushing our walls outward!

    1. don’t feel badly, kala, i needed it explained too. Perhaps I am too much of a literalist. Thanks for helping me expand the way I read and interpret a haiku, Jim.

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