Between the Janus heads – the metaphysical/philosophical/nerdy post …


(still an utterly subjective view by an uneducated fella. No educational value whatsoever … but some questions and taking advantage of a blogger’s prerogative again presenting only my views/taste. Nothing in this is by any nano-degree meant to imply anything about “what others should do” but it isn’t “balanced” neither …)

In the opposite end of the feely, sobby, sulking or intimately private emotional stuff is the “dead”/inert shasei haiku that Shiki believers (or so they say they are) advocate; a form of haiku that essentially comes across as an inventory, a recount of what the writer has seen or constructed to fit the form. A poetry void of any kind of “person”, ego, observer’s reaction or even something actually happening. Ideally this type should reveal “the extraordinary in the ordinary” and it does so in some isolated cases but mostly it in my eyes comes across as a “listing up elements seen or imagined (as some seem overly constructed from “haiku lego” /standard blocks/phrases/elements), really just “re-telling what a person observed”. I am not (personally) moved, touched, provoked, animated by this … and I (personally) need to be challenged not just told. I need to be able to (again) be invited into a haiku not just served a finished package. Something like:

bare branches
the far off sound
of a train

(generic, made for this post by me)

Reading stuff like this I (remember this an utterly subjective view on things not trying to balance “points of view” or educate) think: and so what!?!? What is the intention of telling me that you’ve seen a tree without leaves and heard a train? Wasn’t your mind active on other levels and with other things (thinking about the financial crisis, the wart on your neck, the speed of light, the limits of science, the health of your parents/children, what you need to get from the shops) at the same time? Didn’t reflection at other levels take place at the same time? and so on. I know that a lot of Zen-inspired haijin would think of a haiku like the above as a “state of being in the now and observing reality”, that imaginary state so vigorously promoted by Zennies. (Maybe reflected/grounded in the Blyth-misunderstanding: “Zen is Poetry. Poetry is Zen”). But you can easily recognize your emptiness – and the emptiness in all things – while still acting in and having reactions to the world of temporary things.

Or was the intention to create another jar for the museum of “a million look-a-like jars”? to fit in? … which in itself is o.k. and alright, by the way; just not very interesting as writing to this blogger who prefer reading haiku that shows forth something I wasn’t aware of myself, haiku that surprises and challenges me. (But that’s me, you don’t have to take any notice of this).

The reality is that we have a mind, a consciousness, and we’re aware of having one. Even if we consider it a burden. And we are a species that are aware of being aware of being aware and on and on. We can even be aware of transcending our consciousness … with practice. We are onions within onions. Humans are multidimensional, multi-spheric, multi-layered and at the same time we are a melting pot and a meeting point for a multitude of dimensions, spheres (as we comfortably divide Nature/Being-of-all-things into that our brains shouldn’t burst …). We are where outer and inner reality mates. To simplify it I can say (loosely quoting Ban’ya Natsuishi) that our reality is made up from (all) the outer reality – all that we come in touch with through our senses – and (all) our inner reality, from all of our history (personal and as a human in a (local and global) society, the “processing” of all that enters us) and all of our present along with every possible bit of “information” (knowledge, experience, reactions to and reflections on our experiences, whatever sensory and emotional experience we’ve had and every conceivable “thing”/action/situation/word/gesture etc. that have made an imprint on/in us). This excludes very little – if anything. And this provides us with endless possibilities for writing.

Imagine the faces of Janus (or any multi-faced god). In a simplified way you can say one face looks at the outer reality and one looks at the inner. We (I) work (and live) where those two heads are connected. Being human we have a consciousness, a mind, that connects both (or our mind is made up from both(?)). This whole is ever changing as everything in the outer and inner sphere is ever changing, as we constantly acquire new inner “tools” to handle the outer reality and the other way round. And maybe there isn’t a difference between those spheres. Ideally they’re one.

Now, being a “meeting point” for all possible dimensions/spheres and on top having the ability to be aware of being so gives us possibilities beyond exhaustion. This means we can write on multi-dimensional levels. We can draw from every sphere. We can write about blood types in the same verse where we mention the flute of Krishna for instance. Or a worn out slipper. And none of it will be untrue because both exists and is part of (or connected in) our consciousness – well, of this writer’s, anyway. In my view and practice this is the motor, the well, the spring. To us the world/reality only exists because we have a conscious mind. You might even say that what previously seemed as separate entities in our consciousness becomes parts of a whole. Squids and space rockets, sore gums and the quantum theory … So let’s make use of this never-ending connecting of seemingly separate occurrences in the universe we inhabit for the time being.

Being aware and making use of our potentially “cosmic” consciousness breaks down the “compartmental” world. As everything is already interconnected we ourselves set the limits, define “genres”, make boxes and cages where we could grow wings, ride on dragons and work on being more aware. Everything is nature as nothing perceivable is outside nature. Nothing man can experience with his/her senses is not-nature. We are nature and our minds are nature. Man cannot see, hear, touch, smell, kick, cuddle, paint or tickle anything that is not nature and seeing our state like this might just open some doors for us.

… and then we might be able to write haiku like these:

twenty billion light-years of perjury:      your blood type is “B”

Hoshinaga Fumio, Modern Haiku essay

I pull its colours
to create my own state

(Alan Summers, Does Fish-God Know, yettobenamedfreepress, 2012)

For a call to hell
perhaps unnecessary

(Ban’ya Natsuishi, Hybrid Paradise, Cyberwit, 2010)

while the maps are printing a manifesto-like wind

(Scott Metz, lakes & now wolves, Modern Haiku Press, 2012)

just to point out a few …

Johannes S. H. Bjerg


7 thoughts on “Between the Janus heads – the metaphysical/philosophical/nerdy post …

  1. someone there
    picking persimmons
    in the rain

    tea blossoms
    winter coming
    nearer me now

    red mailbox
    in the morning mist

    “an inventory” one might say. nothing clever or remarkable or new. “bare branches” haiku, one might say. but without drawing comparisons, i’ll take all three. . . any day.

    • ah, but remember, me not fancying “shasei” doesn’t mean you can’t. 😉

      (yep, spacing on WP is not like in a word-document. Takes some fiddling …)

  2. Will there be a handbook out of these, Johannes? I’d like to sleep with it if one were to be solid in kind. Each of your posts to me feel like a chain after chain broken. I suppose it would take a bit more time for me to burst out of the bolt I’ve dragging around but I know with a daily mantra like ‘I am a point in a billion stars where within and beyond me converge’ or ‘I am the pool where realities sink into my own reality’ (Hehe…what a teacher you are!!!) And so, fiddling here, what about these ‘just now’ responses:

    leveling Orpheus’ strings tine bell

    wrap around text bleeding

    elephant eye know thyself

    severance pay weightless in kind

    laurel leaves
    in the stew—
    a poet’s crown

    tattooed fangs
    a hero’s unmarked

    • thanks, Alee, great ku!!!

      But I am no teacher or anything. I’m just a middle aged man in a comatose village in Denmark. That’s all. But I’m glad I made you think a little differently for however long that may last. When we’re out of the box (our usual comfort and activity zone) we have a chance of seeing this differently and that may – or may not – be inspiring.

      Yes, I will make all these posts available in some form. More about that later.

  3. I agree with you wholeheartedly on this one Johannes. Haiku should show some kind of insight, a spark and some of these kinds lack a spark.

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