Le Vide comme concept de haiku
par Serge Tomé

Emptiness as concept

In Western philosophy, emptiness is not a physical realty. Nothing derives from emptiness. Emptiness is a lack, an absence.

In Eastern philosophy, emptiness is a concept equal in value to fullness. 

In Tao, emptiness and fullness are the two basic concepts that create all things. Emptiness is not a lack of things but the matrix of all things.

This concept is illustrated in many aspects of eastern arts (painting, poetry, philosophy).

In painting:

All the Chinese painting is governed by this concept. Emptiness has an histolytic part. Haze, widespread in T'ang and Song painting, is an important part of the physical world. It does not conceal, rather it produces the landscape.

In poetry: 

Emptiness or the lack of emotion, blandness, is a key concept in T'ang and, especially in Chan poetry.

Talking about nothing, with the release of all tension, is the subject of the most beautiful poems of these periods.

The aha moment as a haiku key concept

This moment is the key concept of haiku writing. But what exactly is this moment ? 

In Zen philosophy, it is a short moment in which the underlying structure of the world appears to you. In Western, especially in Christian philosophy, it is referred as the moment of epiphany. This kind of discovery is part of our daily life and is a profound link between haiku and contemporary Western poetry.

It can happen in very a limited period of time, like sparks in which the nature of things is revealed, but also, for me, in more lengthy moments in which nothing happens. All tensions are released, time flows. 

In rare moments, it is possible to perceive that flow through things.

What is more basic in philosophy than this flow of time? Time, the texture of our world, of all our concepts. The feeling of the impermanence of things, our feeling of death, of the instability of the world.

For me, expression of emptiness could be a major expression of the aha moment, perhaps a more basic expression because it touches the underlying structure of our world (physical and mental).

Emptiness as haiku subject

It is possible, for me, to write haiku about nothing, only describing a situation in which nothing happens. Just in order to register the flux of time..

Illustrations

      evening in Brouage
      bulwarks at marsh level
      silt and salt
     
      grey sky this morning ---
      it's gloomy under the limes
      only the wind --
     
      the pool this evening
      deep blue under the black trees
      after the storm --
     
      evening in the garden
      a few books on the table
      sound of piano
     

Serge

      Grey morning sky --
      under the limes
      only wind
     
      After storm evening
      below black trees

      deep blue pool
     

Dorothy Howard