Sensations of Existentialism

Yesterday strangely culminated into an unexpected moment of paralysis. The child stayed at my parent’s home for a few remaining hours; the flood of student paperwork lowered to a minimum level; my e-mail and snail-mail letters were read and addressed; even the cat felt a sense of purpose, curled in the corner of his couch, black fur tongued into appropriate placement and array. However, for myself, an overwhelming lack of creative resources existed. In a very frightening series of minutes, what began as a gray blankness expanded to a feeling of extreme impotence. A ‘why bother?’ attitude. A dark, numbing, Joycean epiphany. Where do these extremes form in the neurons? As a metaphoric species one would think these severe sensations of existentialism would be erased from our consciousness.

Despite the trauma, the daily generation of haiku sentences does continue— words still appear on the page with defined prospects. Watching the full collection gather itself raises metaphors of grackles or magpies— mocking birds calling out from water oaks in my front yard. Every so often I fear the phrases exist as only repetitive nonsense, weak-imitations of the traditional forms of Japan, reproductions with harsh syllables. On optimistic days, a feeling of accomplishment surfaces— a satisfaction that I still build these connections with craft, showing myself a sense of validation of my own worth.

Because of their abundance, soon it will be necessary to archive the full mass of poems— which now leaves me currently debating on the approach and design. With the simplicity of their appearance, haiku deceive the reader. In verse form, three little lines can promote a quick, shallow reading. I always caution my students to not fall into this perception. Haiku are intended to create a sense of meditation— generate a reconsideration of perception. In the end, when multiple haiku are printed on the page, the reading eye quickly jumps from one to the next. Swallowing the images down, moving along the flow. Devouring as much as possible in one sitting. Ideally, it would be great to print them out individually, singularly. With much white space surrounding the text as possible to reinforce the atmosphere of solemnity.

[For my English 1302 class I created a specific demo that addresses the issue.]

The task at hand now remains: how to digitally archive hundreds of these verses and give each one a sense of importance? I’ll let you know the outcome.


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