Notes On Attention Paid

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The Essential Haiku, Notes

… in the very first note i read this morning, an academic article is referenced, Basho—The Man and The Plant, by Donald H. Shively… i look up the article and it is only available through JSTOR, i look for it elsewhere but can’t find it any other way… at this point i discover that i can register for JSTOR and read up to 100 articles a month for free… um, i am not an academic, so the prospect that i might exceed the limit in any given month is unlikely… what a find!…

… and, on to the article, the plant is appreciated in China and, to a lesser extent, in Japan, as a symbol of ephemerality, as the leaves of the plant are easily damaged by the wind and the plant withers and dies in the winter in these places… Basho’s students took to calling him Master Banana Plant, because of the specimen he kept in his garden… Basho like this and adopted it as his poets name… a poem by Saigyo, one of Basho’s favorite poets, talks about the banana plant in this way:

When the wind blows

at random go

the banana leaves;

Since it is thus laid waste, is this a world

on which a human being either can rely?

… ephemerality of plan and human life… very buddhist…

Many of the traditions about the banana plant in Earlier Japanese literature are brought together in a Yokyoku of the fifteenth century entitled Basho. This No play is based on a theme suggested by the Lotus sutra, that even grasses and trees can be reincarnated as Buddhas.1

… this idea immediately leads me to think about the concept of Panpsychism, which postulates consciousness as a fundamental quality of all matter…

… Basho apparently enjoyed the concept of non-functional beauty… that is, beautiful plants, things, that had no apparent use, which left them undisturbed by humans, and therefor, made them a reliable presence… one could ground themselves in and around non-functional beauty… i relate this to my reading on the Greek concept of techne yesterday…

 Techne (Greek: τέχνη, tékhnē, ‘craft, art’; Ancient Greek: tékʰnɛː, Modern Greek: ˈtexni (About this soundlisten)) is a term in philosophy that refers to making or doing. As an activity, technē is concrete, variable, and context-dependent. The term resembles the concept of epistēmē in the implication of knowledge of principles, in that “both words are names for knowledge in the widest sense.” However, the two are distinct.2

… the importance of usefulness or functionality in Western culture which also appreciates the fruit of the banana plant rather than the ephemeral qualities of the plant itself, which has no “concrete” value other than to produce the useful fruit…


  1. Shively, Donald H., Basho—The Man and The Plant [return]
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Techne [return]