Saturday, May 26, 2012

R. H. Blyth and D. H. Lawrence: Flower and Fade

Last Saturday, I wrote a little about R. H. Blyth, his philosophy and style, and his approach to haiku.  A little further along in volume 1 of the 4 volume masterwork, Haiku, that I was discussing, under the section entitled "No, Ikebana, Cha no Yu," is the following:

It should be noted once for all, that art and poetry and drama, learning and religion, architecture and music, are far closer to one another in the East than in the West. In this sense, the East is easy to understand; if you know one properly, you know all,-but an understanding of western architecture  is no guarantee of an appreciation of Bach, nor that of Kantian metaphysics.  The multifarious incoherence of the various forms of Western culture gives them a kind of vitality and indeterminate direction of development which makes Eastern culture seem a little monotonous, a little lifeless in comparison. The truth is that that the East knows how to live, but does not do it; the West does not know how.  As D. H. Lawrence said,
Life and love are life and love, a bunch of violets is a bunch of violets, and to drag in the idea of a point is to ruin everything.  Live and let live, love and let love, flower and fade, and follow the natural curve, which flows on, pointless.

Often Blyth makes gross generalizations, some spot-on, others marginally off, and others to make the point at hand and simply move on. Many of the seeming contradictions in his work stem from this approach. At times, it seems that perhaps his writing style itself might best be described as Zen.

For some folks, there is lots to disagree with here.  What really is the point he is trying to make, and does the DHL quote make it for him, or is that something else altogether?

When thinking on Eastern thought, nf the Tao and Zen, we must realize that it isn't one of the other when it comes to duality: it is both, it is all.

As Whitman sang:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)


Bruce Springsteen's Rocky Ground

We don't often think of the art of the music video, that it can, in fact, be film, engaging and creative, same as the music it attempts to capture. Above is the perfect dovetailing of two art forms. Quite a video, quite a song.

whichever way I turn...
    translated by David G. Lanoue


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Fred said...


Whitman's statement is sheer Taoism--the yin and the yang.

I think that writers frequently make bold, simple overstatements and then move on. They made their point and leave it for the rest of us to masticate it into bite-sized chunks for easy digestion.

Ed Baker said...

those damn points ...
some where in my
Points / Counterpoints
(1971) here:

(the entire thing is here as FactSimile Press did it
((scroll down to the red cover link))

I write/draw
"even this point is pointless"

I also seem to recall that Kandinsky in 1926 wrote an entire book or section of a book re: "Points" It's in Kandinsky Complete Writings On Art

keep "it" coming

we (those who do)
will take it to the next pointless-point

Theresa Williams said...

I was reading the journals if Jules Renard tonight and he made the statement, "A critic is a botanist. I am a gardner." Literature isn't a science. Contradictions are not only okay, they are expected. It's a garden and we compost the ideas into something rich and unique. Contradictions are part of the mystery. D.H. is one of my literary heroes! He had to learn to live with his mortality brcause of his poor health. In the words you quoted, I see a strong connection to the life force (Lawrence was an avid gardner). I think of his poem about the snake, how our intellect rejects and wishes to destroy it. We spend too much time on meaning. As joseph Campbell pointed out, "what is the mmeaning of a flower?" It has no just is. Sometimes this...sometimes that!

Charles Gramlich said...

I've often heard of that difference between the east and the west. Interesting. I can see it's true of the west, but I don't know enough about eastern thought to know for sure.

Ed Baker said...

want to get a 'feel' for contemporary Japan read Malcolm Ritchie's
Village Japan ...
especially his afterword Ritchie and his wife lived in an out-of-the-way village (Sora) for three + years...

what we look at as Japaneses Culture is now pretty much a tourist-income producing "Thing" japan has
abdicated their traditional culture
in favor of embracing the Western ways... consumerism, shallowness and greed...

"Japan, as it has always done in the past, improved upon what it absorbed and made its own, until it has become the leading technological/consumer society in the world. Ironically, on the world trading scene it is included among the Western trading economies. It has even progressively and voraciously been destroying the natural environment with which it once identified and understood as sacred, in order to feed this insatiable appetite and with it its own spiritual heritage. A similar scenario is now being repeated with the remaining cultures of Asia - at least those that have not yet been, or are not in the process of being, by the ravages of totalitarianism. (etc)."

China is even worse ! The tolerate/maintain a very few Taoist or Buddhist monasteries/centers merely to bring in tourist dollars..

look at what they've done to Tibet !

look into Bill Porter's (Red Pine):
Road To Heaven

snowbird said...

Rocky ground thanks...violets here!

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Yes, I think you've got it, Fred. Whitman, well, transcendent is the only word that fits.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Ed, yes, it is all there, as we peel back the words the real real ...

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Theresa, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful ...

The Snake by DHL.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Charles, it is this honesty which will set us free.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Ed, so true. What we are dealing with here is past, gone. In the understanding of Blyth and what he brings, it is a moment in time, frozen. We see it, understand, and know that it has all moved on.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Merrill ... Bruce hits home ... thanks.

Ed Baker said...

yeah ... we've certainly moved on ....
we're now at a place where no one knows
how to fix a toilet or how to evischerate
a chicken !

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

I'm thinking moving out would be a better description than moving on ...

Theresa Williams said...

Great quote from Paul Valery..."Sometimes I do not agree with my own opinions!" :-)