haiku, books, discipline

2 4 '24
Today a rainy bike ride
Never thought I would enjoy it as 

1 iv 2024

April Fool
Black dog howling
At the bitch in heat
He has no idea

i had imagined a quiet walk
human traffic
31 iii 2024

30 III '24

My reading continues, these days quite a few books on philosophy; I'm currently reading - in small doses, as there is a lot to digest - José Ortega y Gasset's 'The revolt of the masses' it feels promising in the sense that I find it well written and I get the sense I'm going to learn a lot. The first book I finished this year is 'Humanly possible' by Sarah Bakewell [am afraid I found it slightly disappointing, maybe due to raving reviews]. On to 'Het verstoorde leven' by Etty Hillesum, a diary she kept for two years during WWII, a highly personal insight into a life confronted with major events and how she held herself, amazingly stoical; there's an interesting documentary about her Het denkende hart alas pertinent to current conflict in Gaza & Israel.  Still to read: Marcus Aurelius' 'Meditations', A.A. Long on Epictetus and Lucius Senecas 'Letters from a stoic'. I read and thoroughly enjoyed Miriam van Reijen's 'Stoïcijnse levenskunst' and the interview 'Filsoferen maakt een eind aan al het gezeur', both reviewed in my previous post 'food for thought'. Epictetus' 'Enchiridion/Pocketbook' is a sort of 53-commandments-for-stoics.....at least that's what it felt like to me: some can be read as good advice, others are more like thou shalt(not) all over again.
Last but not least 'In praise of shadows' an intriguing read by Jun'ichirõ Tanizaki*. I do not completely understand why, but I have become more & more fascinated by Japan and Japanese aesthetics. I realise many artists I admire have been influenced by Japanese arts/artists and techniques. I suppose in that sense we have always been a global community.
As an art student back in the eighties, I felt no kinship to Japan whatsoever. A seed was planted however by Martin E. Andersen, when he gave me a going-away present after my Summer school sojourn at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Charlottenborg in 1987! He later on became a professor at the Academy.

Which led me to buy and read 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' by Matsuo Bashõ. One can only assume it díd influence me in some way and opened my mind to a new world, albeit subconsciously. (I know at several times in my life I would think: even if I cannot appreciate this or that from a particular culture, for the people there it is precious and meaningful, even though I don't yet get it.)  This particular seedling lay more or less dormant for many years, as it tried to take root in various (fabric)forms and find its way up into the full light. 
Finally in January of this year I received a package containing a letter from Z. (* one of her favourite books, a fact I did not know whilst reading it, but which I later learnt when she and her boyfriend D. came to stay with us last Summer) and this beautiful book 'Frog Pond Splash' (siglio press 2020) collages by Ray Johnson, texts by William S. Wilson. My mind was blown! Not only is it an exquisite copy, Ray Johnson's art is incredibly inspiring. Another book I could not read all in one go all at once, despite being a slim volume, there was so much to absorb!
And then it happened, as I was reading the editor Elizabeth Zuba's Afterword I noticed this in one of her notes "Frog/pond/splash" was Ray's own condensed and frequently invoked version of Matsuo Basho's well-known haiku:  "Into the ancient pond/A frog jumps/ Water's sound!" note 4. page 77. 
This was one of those moments when suddenly things/memories/thoughts/et cetera in one's brain click. The long process of germination has lead me here.

I wanted to know more about Bashõ and haiku, so I ordered "Bashõ, The Complete Haiku" translated with an introduction, biography & Notes by Jane Reichhold, Kodansha USA 2008, 2013.
I resolved to write daily haikus, where I combine word with image, not necessarily as an illustration to the poem, or vice versa. A daily discipline added to my other daily routines. Combined they offer me a loose structure, helping me to get going in my studio.

I do not pretend to fully understand how to write a haiku, I've read it is a seventeen-syllable poetic form. It is not complete, more like a sketch and the reader is expected to fill in from her own memories. Often there are two images and the reader is asked to make connections. Usually the seventeen syllables are divided into three lines of five, seven and five.  
I more or less am able to manage the 17 syllables, and two thoughts. However, up till today have not paid attention to the 5 - 7 - 5 rule.
Practice, so much more practice is required. So much to look forward to!

 Spring is here!


Liz A said…
mizzle is such a great word

and I very much like your illustrated haiku ... inpsiring
Liz A said…
and "he has no idea" made me smile rather ruefully
Saskia said…
I've wanted to use that particular word for a long time Liz!

ever since we visited friends 2 Summers ago and she mentioned having used this F&B paint colour for her hallway walls; I ordered a sampler pot to help remind me
Saskia said…
hahahaha, me too Liz;-)
Nancy said…
These illustrated poems -Haikus- are brilliant and remind me how much I love watching your art evolve. I had to look up mizzle, which I maybe knew but forgot...and the definition had me humming this song - A mizzle is a drizzle...

I have some favorite José Ortega y Gasset quotes, but have never read him completely. I may like? This one feels like a good one for you 🙂
"Life is a series of collisions with the future;
it is not the sum of what we have been,
but what we yearn to be."

I too have grown feelings for Japanese art, landscapes, homes. I think the simplicity of what I've seen is what attracts me. I can see these strains in the simple stacked animals or painted marks of your work - in your way. This book looks so charming and you remind me to get back to my poem a day reading again. Many, many years ago, i randomly picked up a book by Bashõ in a Coronado, CA independent bookstore. It was a gift to my son and I never really understood what drew me to it, but it felt good and right. if you have not been, you may enjoy Dee's monthly haikus. She's inspired me to try out a few, to add to ones from long ago. Smile. I can't wait to see/read where this takes you.
That tea messages is one to remember!!
I really enjoyed my morning journey here Saskia. Thank you.

Saskia said…
hi Nancy, it has taken me a while for to respond (was away for a weekend, then a cold! took all my energy to make a daily haiku and keep Snoopy in check) isn't it great to learn to appreciate new things in life!! and I'm always slightly excited when drawn to book-covers and such, often buying books I didn't know I Needed;-)
ha I love that quote, it does at times feel like colliding into 'something'....
I am glad you enjoyed your visit and, as ever, grateful you dropped by & left a note



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