[an engaging ku about self, society, and Jesus]:
trying to scrape
the bar code
off of Jesus' face
; Kafka's "Metamorphosis". At some point it might be interesting and revealing to discuss "Magical Realism" (Borges, Garcia Marquez, Murakami, Nabokov?)—something i see as related to this topic and a possibly interesting angle to study haiku.
Richard notes in his essay: "a larvae spins a cocoon, emerging as a butterfly; coal becomes diamond; carbon dioxide, limestone. The hero transforms him or herself, confronting initiatory challenges through stages of life. Snakes shed skins, seed becomes flower, magicians transform flowers into pigeons. Computer-generated s/fx morph reality in cinema – metamorphosis is a given in dreams."
There are, of course, the seasons themselves—their little changes and major swings.
It seems important to also note the concept of transformation and metamorphosis in Japanese culture and literature as well though. Some quotes from The Fantastic in Modern Japanese Literature: the subversion of modernity by Susan Jolliffe Napier:
"If form is taken as a determinant of identity, then it is hardly surprising that a cultural preoccupation with metamorphosis should surface at times of deep transition."
"But it is also true that the theme of metamorphosis has as deep roots in Japanese culture as it does in Western civilization. From the traditional setsura describing animals turning into humans, to the many depictions of the so-called transformer robots in contemporary science fiction comics and films, Japanese culture also shows a consistent fascination with transformation, in particular the crossing of boundaries between human and inhuman."
"The Shinto religion posits the kami nature in humans, animals, and inanimate things such as rocks and waterfalls."
"Buddhism has its notion of the karmic cycle suggesting potential bestiality in humans and humanity in animals" (reincarnation).
She also notes "the internal alternative self", "the internal alien", mentioning Natsume Soseki and his novel I am a Cat. A ku of transformation by him, tied to reincarnation:
into a man
as tiny as a violet
may i be reborn!
Japan, like nearly every culture, also has its shapeshifters: foxes, tanuki, the snow woman/fairy/queen. And they've made their way into haiku now and then:
the snow fairy suddenly changes
a bridge at dusk
changes himself into a young prince;
the spring evening
—Buson (tr. by R.H. Blyth)
And, in relationship to reincarnation, self, and nature/the wild, Issa wrote and played with it:
when will it become
a cricket's nest?
my white hair
when might I become
grass . . . or a tree?