We learned in class today that our class journals are expected to be mostly responses to the reading, which I’ve been doing very few entries about. So I’ll post a catch-up sightseeing entry later, but here’s a reading response for now. Not very fascinating, unless you like American teenagers parodying Great Poets.
I’m somehow struck with the sinking feeling I’m going to be the only person in my class that isn’t head over heels in love with Matsuo Basho. I’ve seen a couple of facebook statuses so far tonight “oh man, Basho is like the Japanese Robert Frost” or “Haiku are so much cooler than the whiny Gossamer Years.” But I’ll be honest: I don’t get it. Maybe I’m not in the right mood for it but seriously? The guy’s chosen penname means ‘banana’. And to me, his writing style seems like this:
“We left on the such-and-such road heading south. We hiked up the such-and-such mountain and saw the such-and-such temple. So-and-so the famous poet once wrote this haiku there:
I am at / a temple / the wind blows.
So I sat and wrote this haiku.
The wind blowing/ reminds me that/ the seasons change.
On our way down the mountain, so-and-so who once knew so-and-so asked me to write a haiku on a card for him. I thought that was very classy of him, so I wrote,
I have hiked/ to the temple/ where the seasons change.
We then went into town and stayed at an inn. The innkeeper was very nice. I wrote him a haiku.”
I’m sorry… I just don’t get it. I’ll try to look at it again in the morning, maybe meditate on one of the haikus, but I read a few chapters and I still don’t understand why this is considered one of the greatest works of world literature.