Haiga and Haiku. Part 10.

The following text is from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

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What kind of pictures did Basho see in his first forty years such as would have affected his creation of a new world of poetic life? … He must have seen done in art what he wanted to do in verse. He may have seen many great Chinese paintings of the Tang and Sung Dynasties. …

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Haiga and Haiku. Part 5.

The images and text are from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

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The sketch by Sesshu, 1450-1506 (below) was evidently a study for a larger, more ambitious work; this is shown by the absence of the seals.

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It is too brilliant, to good for haiga, it lacks something, the warmth and human sentiment that infuse the more clumsy and less slick pictures by those who are concerned with the things represented rather than with the representation. The sketch shows, however, a simplification and grasp of essentials which are the aim of haiku.

Miyamoto Musashi, 1582-1645, who died one year after the birth of Basho, continues the unconscious development towards haiga. His Shrike Screeching on a Dead Branch (below) has the quietness of eye, and the penetration into the nature of bird and bough, but it still aims at a perfection which for haiga and haiku is limited and finite. The great problem here is how to combine art with nature, nature that is always incomplete never finished. It is the same paradox everywhere, to “reject people” yet value above all things “the human warmth”; to love and hate; to hold and to renounce; to be oneself alone and be all things; to paint form and yet be conscious only of the spirit of the thing.

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Haiga and Haiku. Part 4.

The images and text are from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

The following text is from the book. Any bold passages are intended for emphasis and are not part of the original text.

Haiku and haiga avoid the grim, the violent, the dramatic and intense. They aspire to be deep without depth. Tohaku portrays (below)

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the old tree, pine-needles, bamboo leaves and monkey in the same spirit as Basho’s verse written about a hundred years later:  Continue reading

Haiga and Haiku. Part 3.

The images and text are from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

The following text is from the book. Bold passages are intended for emphasis and are not part of the original text.

The interesting thing about Sengai’s picture of Tokusan and Ryuytan (below)

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is the lack of beauty in the faces of the two people, and in the picture as a whole. Even if they had actually been a handsome couple, it would have been necessary to show them thus, because the picture is insisting on their deadly earnestness, on their souls, not on their appearance.  Continue reading

Haiga and Haiku. Part 2.

The images and text are from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

The following text is from the book. Bold passages are intended for emphasis and are not part of the original text.

The picture of Eno’s enlightenment (seen below)

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is a very strange one, in that it lacks the violence and grimness of Zenga, Zen paintings. Continue reading

Haiga and Haiku. Part 1.

The images and text are from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

All text within quotation marks are from the book. Bold passages are intended for emphasis and are not part of the original text.

The cover of the book:

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“Haiga are small sketches, either in indian-ink, black-and-white or in simple colours, that endeavour to express in pictures what haiku do in words. . . .

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A realization of nonduality

If, in any painting or photograph, a person is depicted as very small within a wide space of nature, there is a possibility that the viewer will recognize that small form as one’s self and that this self is not separate from the vast space. That is to say, such a picture may inspire the realization that one is the vast space itself. When it is recognized that the vast space contains the form and that one is both the vast space and the form — at the same time — this is a realization of nonduality.

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too alone to feel alone

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I feel that in the company of something true, a sadness could arise for all the time and energy spent — not only by one’s self, but by the multitudes — pursuing something false. Yet because it arises in the company of truth, it is sweetened by compassion, the seeing of which evokes another level of tears, and other qualities of sadness as well. In Zen, the term loneliness is used more often than sadness; they seem equivalent to some degree. You can look up sadness and Zen or loneliness and Zen and find different kinds of writings. Some of the writings refer to personal psychological sadness. However, I’m talking sadness that involves existence. I have not considered all the possible shades of sadness, so please offer your own in a comment.

Festival of the Rushes

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the drawing contest
comes to a close
i’m tired of it
although my fame has spread across the land
i know myself as a pebble
whose curve will never be followed
by the artist’s hand
saying goodbye
i climb into my boat
and row through a clump of rushes
to my small house
on the other side of the lake

[This poem carries the influences of the Chinese poet Tu Fu and the Japanese poet Basho, blended, one reflecting the other like green leaves reflecting darkly in still water.]

the stalking cobra

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I was looking at a world map. The “free” countries were coloured green. The “partly free” countries orange. And the “not free” countries red.

Mapping my brain I see a pattern as splotchy and colourful as the map. I am both the good guys and the bad guys.

All the while death – I myself – awaits like a stalking cobra.