14 January 2006 | Draft
Ensuring Strategic Resilience through Haiku Patterns
reframing the scope of the "martial arts" in response to strategic
- / -
Conventional attributes of haiku
Semantic and epistemological potential of haiku
Experiential focus of poetry
Haiku and the martial arts
Strategic potential of haiku
Catalytic role of haiku in kairotic time
Existential quality of life-and-death decisions
Haiku and strategic decision making
Natural cognitive templates offered by haiku
Cognitive configuration of haiku -- and dimensions of strategic engagement
Configuring the pattern that connects
Strategic potential of cognitive commonalities between poetry and music
Beyond knowledge -- to wisdom?
Published in Journal of the Interdisciplinary Crossroads,
Volume 2, No. 3, December 2005 [text]
|Abstract: Explores the role of haiku poems as a means of predisposing the mind to a higher order of strategic resilience in response to threats, especially when a configuration of haiku defines a form of pattern language. Such possibility relies on valued attributes of haiku: embodiment of transformation, capacity to hold several layers of meaning that may be discovered or explored, and capacity to act as a container for deep meaning. In responding to the experiential challenge of the sheer present, haiku are presented as relevant to any strategy that is required to deal with the urgent challenges of the moment -- as is typical of the preoccupations of the martial arts. A link is made to personal experience of death in contrast to facile attitudes to the death of others -- framing the significance of honourable personal sacrifice in a higher cause. Haiku provide a communication modality for essential understanding of the nature and quality of the experiential reality intuitively recognized at the core of the martial arts through the risky juxtaposition of life and death. This points to the dynamic opportunity of the transformative potential of the shifting patterns in such moments -- the aesthetic immediacy essential to paradigm change.
The General Assembly of the World Academy
of Art and Science (Zagreb, November
2005) had as its theme the Future of Knowledge (Evolutionary
challenges of the 21st century). The meeting was accompanied
by an invitational NATO
Advanced Research Workshop on Security in Knowledge-based Society (Developing
resilience in societies at risk and threatened by terrorism).
Some participants attended both events. As was pointed out by Pieter
Drenth (All European Academies), the distinction
between "art" and "science" in English
is bridged and encompassed, in some other European languages at least, by variants
of the single German term "wissenschaft". This can be well
translated by "ways of knowing".
With regard to any distinction between art and science, it
was also pointed out that
the military and security preoccupations of NATO strategists and tacticians
can also be understood in terms of "martial arts" -- notably as articulated
in classical texts on strategy favoured in western military academies (cf Sun
Art of War; Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings: the classic
guide to strategy). In this particular
sense the "arts" were well represented on that occasion in the NATO
event, whether or not the aesthetic dimensions were considered by participants
in the WAAS event as meriting as much attention by the "sciences" --
despite the aesthetic qualities characteristic of the most fundamental theories extolled
by scientists. One particular WAAS workshop was however devoted to the "organization
of knowledge for human benefit" in which the aesthetic
dimension was emphasized as fundamental to the comprehension and organization
of complexity, and the mnemonic requisites of its communication and memorability
in policy-making (cf Union
of Intelligible Associations: remembering dynamic identity through a dodecameral
The following argument endeavours to draw together these various cognitive
threads through an exploration of the Japanese art of haiku,
notably in the light of references to it by Swedish Ambassador, Kai
Falkman, who participated
in both the WAAS and NATO events. Falkman, President of the Swedish
Haiku Society, focused on the
interest in this art form of Dag
Hammarskjöld, a writer of haiku, who
during his mandate as Secretary-General of the United Nations, was especially
preoccupied with security issues. UNESCO, one of the funders of the WAAS gathering,
featured haiku through the website of its Italian National Commission, in collaboration
with the World Haiku Club, on
the occasion of World
Poetry Day in 2002.
Conventional attributes of haiku
The following comments on haiku benefit notably from the insights of Kai Falkman (The String Untouched, translation
Orörd Sträng, Ordfront, 2005).
Haiku is essentially a very short poem depicting a specific experience in
nature or in a human context. It is contrasted with a related form, senryu, which
tends to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature -- senryu are
often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are serious.
The traditional Japanese rules for haiku require the use of 17 syllables
grouped into three lines composed of respectively 5-7-5 syllables. These rules
are applied in a multitude of languages by a worldwide "haiku movement" (cf World
Haiku Club; Haiku International
The emphasis is clearly placed on succinctness and appropriateness, requiring
extremely careful consideration of the pattern of words used and the effect
they together create. The superfluous is excluded. In the words of Antoine
de Saint Exupery, "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more
to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
Non-Japanese haiku poets have explored an even more abbreviated 3-5-3 form
of haiku, as explained by Keiko Imaoka (Forms
in English Haiku) in discussing the linguistic circumstances
that necessitate shorter English haiku to be more loosely structured than Japanese
Over the years, however, most haiku poets in North America have become aware that 17 English syllables convey a great deal more information than 17 Japanese syllables, and have come to write haiku in fewer syllables, most often in three segments that follow a short-long-short pattern without a rigid structure. This style is called by some "free-form" haiku.
The core feature of haiku is an experience described in a
concrete image designed to evoke the same experience in the reader. A good
haiku is not simply a static description. Three valued attributes are:
- embodiment of a transformation -- possibly with a surprising ending
and/or a lingering poetic atmosphere. This may be catalyzed by describing
an impression characteristic of one sensory organ through words normally
descriptive of the impression through another. Images may be connected in
a surprising way, possibly by changing perspectives calling for movement
between them. Thinking is surprised and changes direction. Metaphors are
however rarely used in haiku, because the image is expected to speak for
itself and not be compared with something else in order to be accentuated
or transformed in significance. However it is consequently recognized as
a form that is wonderful for metaphorical descriptions. In contrast to this
view, many of Matsuo
Basho's haiku use metaphor and allegory to great effect [see poems].
- capacity to hold several layers of meaning that may be discovered or explored --
possibly subsequently on reflection, or over a period of time. This may be achieved by using a proximate image like a fractal to imply the larger context of which it is a detail. Indirect insight is typical of haiku.
- act as a container for deep meaning, as characterized by a sense of poignancy,
being touched, existential tragedy, or inevitability beyond conventional
frameworks. It offers a value-charged integrative perspective.
Stress is placed on the concreteness of the images. Purely abstract or intellectual
concepts are not considered valid haiku -- irrespective of their conformity
with the formal rules or the value of the experience they may engender. Meaningful
insights overtly expressed are considered as an imposition, potentially
alienating to the reader. This is an implicit aesthetic that is discovered
by a receptive sensitivity rather than an invasive technique. A degree of detachment
or distance is valued. Although the concrete images may be anchored in the
immediate or distant past -- perhaps specifically associated with a season
-- the effect sought is an experience in the present moment, the immediate
here and now (cf Kate Hall, Mirroring
the Moment, 2001)
In discussing a related art form, haiga, Susumu Takiguchi (Haiga:
this delicious cocktail of art, poetry and calligraphy , World
Haiku Review, 3, 2, December 2003) provides the aesthetic framework
... let us look at the three values of Japanese art
and literature. Shin-zen-bi has long been a target which the Japanese have
traditionally aimed to achieve in almost all their art forms, whether they
are in the realm of literature, art or martial disciplines. It is a concept
which points to an ultimate state of universality where shin (truth) in human
epistemology, zen (goodness) in human ethics and bi (beauty) in human aesthetics
are all combined to form a comprehensive and balanced value system, which
makes the pursuit of these art forms both meaningful and worthwhile. Such
holistic approach to life or culture is typical of Japanese pursuit and runs
through more or less all forms of arts in Japan. In the case of haiku, perhaps
the dominant element is truth, followed by beauty, with goodness as the factor
least sought. This is largely due to the influence of Basho. His central
theme of haikai was fuga-no-makoto (poetic sincerity, honesty and truth).
This true-to-life sincerity of haiku is called makoto.
Semantic and epistemological potential of haiku
In reviewing current approaches to haiku, A.C. Missias (Contemporary
Haiku: Origins and New Directions) notes that:
So, what characterizes a haiku today? This is not an easy question to answer. Certainly, the majority of haiku currently written in English do not conform to the 5-7-5 syllable pattern typical in Japanese, nor do they always concern nature topics; however, all of these divergences are matters of ongoing debate within the haiku community.
Haiku is more than a form of poetry; it is a way of seeing the world. Each haiku captures a moment of experience; an instant when the ordinary suddenly reveals its inner nature and makes us take a second look at the event, at human nature, at life. It can be as elevated as the ringing of a temple bell, or as simple as sunlight catching a bit of silverware on your table; as isolated as a mountain top, or as crowded as a subway car; revelling in beauty or acknowledging the ugly. What unifies these moments is the way they make us pause and take notice, the way we are still recalling them hours later, the feeling of having had a momentary insight transcending the ordinary, or a glimpse into the very essence of ordinariness itself.
Masako K. Hiraga ('Blending' and an Interpretation of Haiku: A Cognitive Approach, 1997) has explored the function of haiku in relation to conceptual blending. This is described as:
Conceptual blending has a fascinating dynamics and a crucial role in how we think and live. It operates largely behind the scenes. Almost invisibly to consciousness, it choreographs vast networks of conceptual meaning, yielding cognitive products, which, at the conscious level, appear simple. Blending is governed by uniform structural and dynamic principles and by optimality constraints. The theory of conceptual blending has been applied by scores of researchers, in cognitive neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology, linguistics, music theory, poetics, mathematics, divinity, semiotics, theory of art, psychotherapy, artificial intelligence, political science, discourse analysis, philosophy, anthropology, and the study of gesture and of material culture.
Dag Hammarskjöld was especially struck by the semantic and mnemonic role
of haiku as he noted in his first haiku poem (1959):
opened the door
to memory and meaning
Beyond the merits of aphorisms or epigrams (cf VSM de Guinzbourg, Wit
and Wisdom of the United Nations: proverbs and apothegms on diplomacy,
1961), a haiku might be understood to be a form of semantic catalyst. From
a learning perspective it might be understood to be in a class similar to
a koan or a mantra in spiritual education. It is a trigger for surprising
experiential insight through evoking an unfamiliar pattern of associations
to sustain the emergence of such an insight. Zen writer R H Blyth defined
a haiku as 'the expression of a temporary enlightenment in which
we see into the life of things'.
This philosophical or spiritual emphasis is highlighted in the words of one web commentator:
Most people today are familiar with the old saying, "Tao is beyond words,
thoughts and expression." What students may not be familiar with is that
two countries, namely Japan and China developed schools of poetry and literature
in order to 'paint' a subtle pattern by way of the Haiku in Japan and in
China by such early poets as Han
Shan (Cold Mountain), hermit and wildly
Haiku as a Zen art form is most interesting in revealing the pattern (or
Li). Basho, the wandering Japanese Taoist poet... sought to lead others to
see the Li or Pattern as a flash or sudden insight.... Basho, like most of
Li or Pattern School sought always to be at one with nature and the four
seasons, each poem expressing a sudden vivid awareness that comes from this
harmony with Tao. The Japanese take the Li or Pattern method and turn it
into actually a very strict but aesthetic art form. [more]
According to his disciple Doho, Basho would "enter into the object, the whole of its delicate life, feeling as it feels. The poem follows of itself." (cf Takahashi, Shinkichi, Afterimages: Zen Poems, 1972). The approach to "seeing the pattern", emphasizing direct and immediate experience without defining the way things are, was notably developed by Ch'eng I (Cheng Yi), a scholar of the Sung Dynasty (c.1033-1107 AD) who saw the pattern as unitary, its divisions being multiple. For him: "The pattern does not define what things are, the pattern refers to the ways things function and interact." [more]
Experiential focus of poetry
J.W. Hackett (The Way of Haiku, 1969) writes with the conviction
...the best haiku are created from
direct and immediate experience with nature, and that this intuitive experience
can be expressed in any language. In essence, I regard haiku as fundamentally
existential and experiential, rather than literary.
In discussing meaning beyond reason, Timothy J Munson (Technologies
of Sin and Salvation: capital, communication and human experience in this
age of the perpetual innovation economy) argues that:
The discipline of haiku presents a concentrated lesson in Zen reconstructive
art. The poem becomes an opportunity to reimagine experience in this new
terrain outlying the familiar dualisms and dialectics of common cognition.
Alexander, who has written extensively on Dewey's analysis of the role of
art and aesthetics in propelling creative innovation and generating "consummatory experience," notes
that, "The haiku strives to reveal, through its concrete but suggestively
minimalist technique, the immediate vitality of the moment"
This accords with a particular understanding of western poetry as articulated
by Alice Oswald (Wild
Things, Guardian, 3 December 2005) in contrasting "nostalgia"
with "immediacy", notably as exemplified by the poetry of Ted
...But in all the poems I knew... there
was a flavour of absence or at least distance - as if the poet was sitting
on a rock on a hill looking at the world through a telescope. The word that
best describes that kind of poem, that contagious feeling of aloofness, is
nostalgia.... We walk outside and a fog of nostalgia comes
over us.... So we get used to thinking about (and reading about) nature as
the just-vanished place, the place we can't quite reach
So then I read all the Hughes poems... and what
they all had in common was that imaginative grasp of the present - that ability
to speak strictly within one moment and not through a misted screen of remembered
moments....This non-nostalgic way of writing is, to my mind, the only way of
getting through to the animate part of nature, the soft growing tip. Hughes
called it "the vital somewhat terrible spirit of natural life which is
new in every second". D H Lawrence, whose poems Hughes admired, called it "quivering
momentaneity". He spoke of the need for an "unrestful, ungraspable poetry
of the sheer present"...
The challenge of the sheer present is that faced by any strategy that is required
to deal with the urgent challenges of the moment, typical of the preoccupations
of the martial arts -- but hopefully also of all those locked tragically into
other kinds of life-and-death situations. Hence the relevance of poetry-making
as a template for policy-making in the face of emergencies (cf Poetry-making
and Policy-making: Magic, Miracles and Image-building, 1993).
Haiku and the martial arts
Sakusen is the Japanese term for the art of military strategy. Daisetz
and Japanese Culture, 1970), in his description of Zen, illustrated
its surprising role in the philosophy of the samurai, and subtly portrayed
in the relationship between Zen and swordsmanship, haiku, tea ceremonies,
and the Japanese love of nature.
Seamus Mulholland (Philosophy and the Martial Arts, 2004) highlights the aesthetic quality of eastern martial arts:
Quite aside from the philosophical questions that Martial Arts might throw into relief, there is another aspect of Martial Arts which many western practitioners fail to see and that is its aesthetic. Martial Arts is simply beautiful to look at when it is done properly. It is as graceful, as skilled, as deft and as fluid and flowing as ice-dance, ballroom dancing, gymnastics. I believe this is so because the form of the Martial Arts depends on an understanding not just of accidental in physical movement but how those movements as shapes appear to the onlooker and to the one engaged in the movements themselves. To see the gracefulness of the ancient art of Aikido, or the strong symmetry of a skilled samurai swordsman, or the powerful, strong yet perfectly balanced movement of a karate-ka is to understand that while these movements have what some may consider to be a dubious purpose (hurting people), in themselves they are works of art.
Similarly it is stated elsewhere that:
Ancient Chinese aesthetics advocated a balance between hardness and softness, voidness and solidness, notion and stillness, and negative and positive, as well as the expression of the spirit of an object through its form. Under this influence, Chinese martial arts have formed their own aesthetic standards that incorporate a stage of conceptual contentment, harmony, and nature, as well as beauty and elegance. [more]
Another study endeavours to demonstrate that martial arts should be rethought as a rightful part of the forms of artistic representation (Short study of the artistic question in the martial arts and kenpo karate; see also Suresh Awasthi, Martial Arts and Performance Tradition, 2005).
Most martial arts schools, especially the more modern, sport-oriented, competition-based
programs, fail to blend in a philosophical curriculum. Traditionally, however,
the fiercest samurai also trained in brush painting, flower arrangement, haiku
writing, and solving conundrums that foster a positive ethic. [more]
The 17th century samurai Yamamoto
The Way of the Samurai, 2001) was the author of a key text (Hagakure: the
Book of the Samurai, 1979) in the early
training of samurai in the Bushido code of the "Way of the Warrior". Its circulation
was long restricted to an inner circle prepared for death at any moment in
the unquestioning service of their masters. The author had a long-standing
interest in poetry and a recent translation is prefaced by two of his haiku.
The role of the Hagakure might be compared in a modern context to
a set of guidelines developed by the Pentagon's PsyOps program
at Fort Bragg as psychological input to the training provided by the Western
Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (previously the School
of the Americas). Other parallels, relating to the "Way of Bush", and "Bush-I-Do",
have been the subject of extensive satirical commentary (cf Evan
the Way of the American Warrior, New
Yorker, 7 June 2004; Alan Bisbort. Bushido
and Bushito: Our new fatal code of conduct, American Politics
2003). The insistence
of American foreign policy under George Bush on the binary logic that "You
are either with us or against us" [more more more],
nevertheless has a strange resonance with the principle enunciated in the Hagakure that:
The way of the samurai is found in death. When it comes to either/or, there
is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. (Prefacing
quote in Boyé Lafayette de Mente, Samurai Strategies, 2005)
However, the modern "armchair warrior", so ably described by Eisenberg, makes
his "quick choice" in relation to the death of others, rather
than to any honourable personal sacrifice in a higher cause -- a modern perversion
of the Bushido code of honour (cf Honour
Essential to Psycho-social Integrity: challenge of dishonourable leadership
to the nameless, 2005). The perversion is all the greater in that
the armchair warrior only engages in such killing, from on high, through
the protection of virtual or procedural interfaces -- however real the killing
The relation between the martial arts and haiku is further clarified by Bruce
in Japanese and American Haiku, World Haiku Review, 2002)
The Southeast Asians, including the Japanese, conceive of their spiritual center as hara, that internal area a few fingers' width beneath the navel, rather than in the area of the head as in the West. This center is the Chinese dan-tien and the Buddha belly of meditation. In martial arts, such as aikido or tai chi chuan, all movement naturally flows from here. It is a focal point for various kinds of internal energy as well as an intuitive center that connects us to the universe.
Strategic potential of haiku
Kai Falkman comments on one of Hammarskjöld's haiku:
While the shots echoed
he sought the life of words
for life's sake
The Secretary-General sought the right words to activate the process of peace negotiations in the midst of armed hostilities. Generally speaking, the words already exist in the Charter of the United Nations, which all member states have promised to respect and obey, but when its principles are not followed, the Secretary-General must intervene to give life to the words so that they will be experienced as real by the parties that have gone back on their words. The reason for giving life to the words is to save lives, that is, a duty to intervene for life's sake.
Falkman focuses on the sense of necessity to find life in words and thus counteract the death that men wreak with their weapons -- even while they are being used.
Hammarskjöld would seem to have recognized the importance of the haiku in disciplining his own thinking to evoke appropriate strategic insight -- even though this was a discipline he applied in private and unknown to others at that time. In what may be one of the most extreme ironies of the times, and an illustration of the dysfunctional potential of haiku, as a devotee of language the US Secretary of Defense (and therefore the principal representative of the leading member of NATO), Donald Rumsfeld is known to insert haiku into press briefings, as noted by Hart Seely (Pieces of Intelligence: the existential poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld, 2003):
During news briefings and media interviews, Rumsfeld quietly inserts haiku, sonnets, free verse, and flights of lyrical fancy into his responses, embedding the verses within the full transcripts of his sessions, which are published on the U.S. Defense Department's website.[more]
There is an experiential reality intuitively recognized at the core of the
martial arts through the risky juxtaposition of life and death. Haiku constitutes
a communication modality for essential understanding of its nature and quality.
That understanding points to the dynamic opportunity of the transformative
potential of the shifting patterns in such moments -- the aesthetic immediacy
essential to paradigm change. Haiku effectively attune the mind to surprises.
From a martial art perspective it might well be considered to be the strategic
antithesis of a "zero-sum
game" typical of much strategic thinking (but see Tom Czerwinski, Nonlinearity
and Military Affairs: a working bibliography, 1999; Terrorism, Nonlinearity and Complex Adaptive Systems: Links to online papers). This is a
situation in which a participant's gain (or loss) is exactly balanced by the
losses (or gains) of the other participant(s).
Stealth is of course a vital component in deploying an effective strategy against a deadly enemy. It is therefore to be expected that the insights emerging from the gathering as a whole regarding the strategic role of haiku as a pattern language should have a hidden dimension -- consistent with the organization of the NATO event unbeknownst beforehand to those in the WAAS gathering not invited to it. A variety of covert agendas were played out by various factions.
As noted above, haiku has the ability to hold multiple levels of meaning
regarding its transformative implications in a manner somewhat reminiscent
of conventional levels of secrecy and security classification. Consistent
with this perspective, haiku is associated with "disappearing" according
to Gabriel Rosenstock (Haiku:
the gentle art of disappearing,
2004) -- especially in the case of haiku that are not superficial and unmemorable
due to the intrusion of the grosser aspects of thinking [more].
He compares the condition with that of flow as identified by Mihaly
Csikszentmihalyi (Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday
Life, 1998). Rosenstock recognizes that the concatenation of events triggering haiku moments make of them a singularity (as discussed below).
Such indications suggest that the nature of the "strategy" most appropriately
associated with haiku may well be that otherwise associated with the Tao
transcendent yet immanent, manifesting itself most powerfully through
the forces of wu-wei ("nonaction")
and yu-wu ("nonbeing").
It is such insights that are most valued in the traditional martial arts (cf
Key Sun. How
to Overcome without Fighting: an introduction to the Taoist approach to conflict
resolution, 1995). As is frequently stated, wu-wei -- the
principle of "nonaction" -- is
not inactivity. As described by Alan Watts (Tao: The Watercourse
Way, 1977), wu-wei is the right action of letting nature take
its course, namely a minimalist way of finesse rather than force. Strategically
it is a way to roll with the punch, to swim with the tide, to go with the
flow. Thus wu-wei is
not so much the absence of effort as it is right effort, effort used wisely,
such as in the martial arts. It is poetry in motion -- as with haiku -- in
which balance is not static. Classic haiku may indeed be associated with the quality of water (cf Sam Hamill.The Sound of Water: Haiku by Basho, Buson, Issa and Other Poets, 1995).
This emphasis on the logic of flow and water has been explored by Edward de Bono (Water Logic, 1993; I Am Right-You Are Wrong: From This to the New Renaissance : From Rock Logic to Water Logic, 1992 ) who contends that traditional logic is static, based on the solid foundations of "is" and identity. In contrast to this traditional "rock logic", he proposes a "water logic" based on "to" and the flow of the mind: "What does this lead to?" as opposed to "What is...?" He argues that this new logic is surprisingly easy to learn and to use, and results in a visual "flowscape", which allows people to lay out and then look at their thinking.
Haiku, conventionally understood might be considered as the antithesis of any action orientation. In this light, any association of haiku with the conventionally operational focus of strategy must then necessarily have an essentially "non-operational" quality in order to manifest itself most powerfully through "non-action". Writing haiku might then be usefully contrasted with casting "spells", which it might otherwise resemble in providing an operational focus for thinking. As discussed elsewhere (Poetry-making and Policy-making: Magic, Miracles and Image-building, 1993):
Charismatic leaders have been studied as "spellbinders" by A R Willner (1984). Like it or not, spells as an aspect of magic seem to be closely associated with this overlap between poetry and policy. Concern is expressed at continuing popular interest in spells and the related persistent practices in many countries. But commercial advertising may be seen as using many of the techniques previously confined to spell-casting. There is a lot of "magic" in public relations and in what the "spin doctors" of political campaigns endeavour to achieve (Maltese, 1992).
Janet and Stewart Farrar (1990) indicate: "A spell can be as simple or as complicated as the occasion demands. But be it simple or complex, three factors are essential: precise visualization of intent, concentration and will- power" (p. 31). Many of the spells and incantations to which they refer take poetic form, including two embodied in the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. Many are of course designed to "solve problems".
In contrasting spells with haiku, it is appropriate also to contrast them
with commercial advertising
jingles -- a feature of marketing strategies -- namely as memorable
slogans usually set to an engaging melody. Jingles are memes constructed
-- somewhat like love
charms -- to stay in a person's memory and are often nostalgically remembered
decades later, even after the associated "brand" has ceased to exist.
Catalytic role of haiku in kairotic time
Thomas Hemstege (Hail, Herbs, and Turnips: Haiku and
its Models in the Natural World, Modern
Haiku, Vol. 35:1, Winter Spring 2004, 31) usedully reframes the widespread
understanding that haiku are nature poems:
Japanese haiku are 'time poems' whose subject matter is time,
the passage of time, the past, the present and the future. The poet illustrates
this process of becoming and passing away within a shorter or longer period
of time by relating them to things in the natural world, either alive or
The notion of "kairos" (chairos) can be traced back to the
rhetoric of Sophists who held that the effectiveness of speech is determined
by the timing within "cultural and political contexts". It has been explored
in relation to science (cf C R Miller. Kairos in the rhetoric of science,
1992). A distinction is made between "kairotic decision-making" and
the normal decision-making characteristic of chronological time. Kairos may be described as an "irreducible singularity" --
an experiential singularity in contrast with, or by analogy to, a technological singularity.
How the singularity of experience can be thought through the concept of a "technics of the self" is
explored by Jean-Philippe Milet (Experience as Technique of the Self, Tekhnema 2: Technics and Finitude, Spring 1995).
The relation between haiku and decisive moments -- the "right time" --
has been widely explored. A haiku experience may be considered an embodiment
of kairotic time -- the time in which fundamental decisions may be appropriately
taken. The strategic notion of seizing kairotic moments as opportunities has
been widely publicized by the injunction Carpe Diem in the movie Dead
Poets Society. Such moments may be understood as marking the very essence
of humanity (cf The
Isdom of the Wisdom Society: Embodying time as the heartland of humanity,
Of related interest is the challenge of being seized by such decisive
moments when faced with an unforeseen opportunity to stand up and be counted
as holding views, or taking initiatives, that contrast with those of the majority
-- possibly involving a high degree of risk and even mortal danger.
Such decisions may be seen, whether at that time or from a historical perspective,
as constituting a kairotic turning point -- bringing wider long-term significance
to the moment (cf Engaging
Macrohistory through the Present Moment, 2004).
Damir Ibrisimovic (in a personal communication) makes the point that:
I would suggest that a truly powerful haiku poem does not only take into
account all previous moments, but also these new elements establishing (correcting
previous experiences) and adding to the experience as a whole an imagined
shape of (potential) future moments in all of their uniqueness that we are
able to imagine. Such expressions of one's moments of infinities of
one's transient now propel us to our own infinities of our own transient
now by 'encapsulating' the state of mind into words, rather than
describing the moment itself.
The realm of the spirit is held to operate in kairotic (chairotic) rather
than chronological time. This has been descibed by Mircea Eliade (The Sacred and the Profane) as "sacred time" [more]. The cyclic nature of sacred time has been described as follows:
- as a return to the beginning of time
- as repeated cycles of death and return
- as indefinitely recoverable
- as replicating the activities of ancestors (possibly through ritual)
According to Kay Stone (The Golden Woman: Dreaming as Art, 2004):
"...dreams take place in the ever-present timelessness of sacred chairos time, in contrast with the clock-ticking chronos time of our waking world. Bringing the two together is a delightful challenge, and . . . a sacred one as well"
This challenge may be at the core of reconciling faith-based and evidence-based reality in these times. Being in love may also be characterized by kairotic
moments. As various commentators suggest:
- In chronos, you move through time. In chairos, time moves through you
- Chairos time is where time, instead of getting longer, gets deeper
- "Chairos" refers to appropriateness, to the timeless feel of special events that "take their own time" and there's nothing you can do to hurry them; to the rightness when things happen "at the right time". [more]
- Industrialisation favoured Chronos, the time of timetables, structured time. The post-industrial world, however, is increasingly ruled by Chairos, a more spur-of-the-moment, directionless kind of time. And so our project designed services to support it.[more]
The quasi-mystical understandings of kairos are a particular focus of some theologians, notably with respect to kairotic moments of sacred ceremonies. As noted in a sermon by S. James Steen in making the contrast with chronological time:
Chairos is of a whole different order, as in "It was a magical time," or "We had a wonderful time." Minutes have no meaning in chairos. It's not about quantity, but a quality of time, like "we had an experience of eternal life." It's not like minutes going on forever; it's like a moment so rich that it seems to last forever. [more]
The kairos of Biblical geo-politics in the 21st century, as explored by Kim Yong-Bock (Theology of Life:
Wisdom of the Whole Life as an Alternative Foundation, 2001). For example, the World Student Christian Federation Asia-Pacific Region indicated in 2004:
All the delegates of the Assembly recognised that the Federation is situated at a critical juncture of time confronting with the most crucial call to the faith: the call to arise from death to life! In order to make the Federation's vision relevant to the world where the power of death prevails, the Federation should respond quickly and profoundly to the challenges given by the societies and churches. It is a kairotic time for the Federation as the movements move forward to a 'life-centered vision and mission' and to proclaim the good news of life for all. [more]
Natasha Artemeva (Traveling in Space and Time: A Study of Learning Trajectories in Student Acquisition of Engineering Communication Strategies, 2003) offers a relevant analysis of "strategies" in terms of learning and the configuration of kairotic time by students, citing a variety of authors:
Catherine Schryer's (2000) definition of genres as "constellations of regulated, improvisational strategies triggered by the interaction between individual socialization... and an organization....." (p. 450) serves as the basis for the analysis. Schryer explains that in this definition, the key word "constellation" allows her "to conceptualize genres as flexible sets of reoccurring practices (textual and nontextual)" (p. 450) and that the term "strategies" allows her "to reconceptualize rules and conventions (terms that seem to preclude choice) as strategies (a term that connotes choice) and thus explore questions related to agency" (p. 451). Schryer's redefinition of genre is largely based on Bakhtin's (1981) notion of chronotope. Bakhtin (1981), discussing the development of literary forms, defines chronotope (literally, "time space") as "the intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships..." (p. 84). Bakhtin (1981) insists that
the chronotope....has an intrinsic generic significance.
It can even be said that it is precisely the chronotope that defines genre
and generic distinctions, for... the primary category in the chronotope
is time (emphasis in original). (p. 85)
With this focus on time and its role in the acquisition and use of genres within various chronotopes, the notions of chronos and kairos become particularly useful. Paul Tillich (1886 -1965), German-born American philosopher and theologian defined the notion of kairos as a " crisis' or fullness of time,' the right time for creative thought and action" (Sessions, 1995, p. 803).... Yates and Orlikowski (2002) take the view that reflects a dual perspective on kairos: they see it as both "emerging from the communicative activities of human actors (i.e., rhetors and audiences) in specific situations (e.g., institutional context, task, place, and chronological time)" and as "enacted, arising when socially situated rhetors choose and/or craft an opportune time to interact with a particular audience in a particular way within particular circumstances"(p.108).
Yates and Orlikowski (2002) have emphasized the possibility of kairos "as enacted, arising when socially situated rhetors choose and/or craft an opportune time to interact with a particular audience in a particular way within particular circumstances" (p. 109). They do not deny the forces of rhetorical situation which constrain the possible responses, but they emphasize that the rhetor is an integral part in creating the kairotic moment.
Existential quality of life-and-death decisions
For D.T. Suzuki: "A haiku does not express ideas, but puts forward
images reflecting emotions." Commentators have remarked on the
nature of poetry in war time -- notably that of soldiers in the trenches
of World War I, constantly faced with the possibility of imminent death when
they charged into minefields under fire. Such existential moments are also
faced by any soldier in hand-to-hand combat, or by civilians exposed to unchecked
The relationship with the "other" in a life-and-death situation provides one
of the most powerful, and potentially traumatic, experiences in any mortal
combat. In the more conventional sense of the "haiku moment", as
noted by R.H. Blyth (History of Haiku, 1963): 'Haiku
is the apprehension of a thing by a realization of our own original and essential
unity with it.' . But beyond this experience, in a combat situation
-- or in the interaction of a combatant with a "civilian" about
to be killed -- is the sense of identity intuited between the two parties.
W. Hackett (That
Art Thou: A Spiritual Way of Haiku,
was influenced by this ancient spiritual principle and urged its use in creating
haiku poetry. Zen interpenetration is, in a very real sense, the consummation
of the haiku experience...'.
This "interprenetration" may well apply to the relation between
torturer and prisoner in an interrogation process -- a particular example of
a widely practiced military "art" (cf Mark Bowden, The
Dark Art of Interrogation, The Atlantic Monthly, October
2003; Giles Tremlett, Anarchists
and the Fine Art of Torture, Guardian, 27 January 2003; S.
Brian Willson, Torture
Is an American Value: Reality vs. the Rhetoric, Vietnam Veterans
against the War, Fall 2005; Darius Rejali, A
long-standing trick of the torturer's art, Seattle Times,
14 May 2004) [more].
This interpenetration may result in a form of traumatic bonding as noted by
Sam Vaknin (The
Psychology of Torture):
Torture is the ultimate act of perverted intimacy. The torturer invades the victim's body, pervades his psyche, and possesses his mind. Deprived of contact with others and starved for human interactions, the prey bonds with the predator. "Traumatic bonding", akin to the Stockholm Syndrome, is about hope and the search for meaning in the brutal and indifferent and nightmarish universe of the torture cell. The abuser becomes the black hole at the center of the victim's surrealistic galaxy, sucking in the sufferer's universal need for solace. The victim tries to "control" his tormentor by becoming one with him (introjecting him) and by appealing to the monster's presumably dormant humanity and empathy.This bonding is especially strong when the torturer and the tortured form a dyad and "collaborate" in the rituals and acts of torture (for instance, when the victim is coerced into selecting the torture implements and the types of torment to be inflicted, or to choose between two evils).
There is however also great similarity between the experience of a practitioner of the martial arts and that of dance. For example, Kirsi Monni. (The Poetic Movement of Being, 2004):
A dancer's bodily knowledge is the ability to stay within the immediate and instantaneous "here" moment, in the integrity of the body-mind, in which the instrumental and habitual everyday way of conceiving the body is released into revealing the non-concealed, a poetic manner of being. This makes the remembering of and opening upon our existential situatedness possible, which is thrown in-the-midst-of being-towards-death and being-with-others in the historical world. This kind of dance lays out a world in its involvement with being. It is 'ekstasis': stepping out of attachment to the prevalent and already signified contemporaneousness into the openness and potentiality of the self and being. It breaks chronological time and radically opens the situation in a "chairotic", instantaneous moment where the signifying of the world happens as bodily poetry, poetic motion.
Acts of suicide bombers may themselves be understood as meriting reflection as kairotic moments. Gene Brooks (The Last American Awakening: the revivals in the Confederate Armies as part of the Great Prayer Meeting Revival 1858-1865, 1997) highlights the relevance of kairotic moments:
Modern history presents no example of armies so nearly converted into churches as the armies of Southern defence. On the crest of this flood of war, which threatens to engulf our freedom, rides a pure Christianity; the Gospel of the grace of God shines through the smoke of battle with the light that leads to heaven; and the camp becomes a school for Christ.
Further making this time a chairotic moment was the condition of the Southerners just before these revivals. Up to the First Battle of Manassas, everyone both on the field and at home was praying, but after the fantastic defeat of the Union forces, everyone figured the war was practically over. [more]
The glory and the tragedy of the "passing moment" and the "moment of
passing" -- in their life-and-death significance in combat -- are
brought into focus through haiku (cf Sic transit gloria
|I heard the shrill of the bird in the valley,
then I realized the silence.
(Classical haiku as recalled by the philosopher/poet Antonio
on reading this paper)
Haiku and strategic decision making
Kairotic time may be understood as the moment in which the "life and
death" decisions (noted above) may have to be taken, even if they do not
involve physical death. Writing so-called death
poems is a characteristic of both Chinese and Japanese Zen monks (writing
either Chinese style poetry kanshi, waka or haiku), and by many haiku
poets, as well as those who wish to write -- notably prior to suicide [more].
Some kamikaze pilots
wrote haiku prior to their suicide mission [more | more].
As documented by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney (Kamikaze,
Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: the militarization of aesthetics in Japanese
history, .2002), the symbolic importance of cherry blossoms, through
their brief flowering and poignant scattering, become
the quintessential symbol of tokkotai sacrifice -- resulting in an "aestheticization
of death".. From such a perspective, has sufficient attention
been given to the final message of modern suicide bombers -- or to the moment
in conflict situations where the risk of death is imminent and special strategic
intuition is most called for?
According to John Carroll (Retreating From 'The Death Ground', Boston Globe, 22 May 2001):
Military theorists define the point of no return in war as the "Death Ground," the place from which the only way out is to kill. After soldiers experience that, the ruthlessness of combat moves to a new level, and fighting to the death becomes natural. The Death Ground is the most fearsome place in the world, yet, of course, it is not a place at all, but a state of mind. Where a military initiative may have first been organized to assure the well-being of one's group, on the Death Ground the very meaning of such well-being shifts, and now even survival can seem a lesser value. Honor or revenge or the feeling of mastery over one's destiny can matter more than life.
Others have argued that many organizations may usefully be understood to be effectively operating on "death ground", if only metaphorically. It is perhaps in this sense that haiku can configure understanding of the essential strategic situation and the transformative opportunities it represents.
There is a case therefore for recognizing a similarity between such haiku
and elements of the commentary on an individual condition of change in an I
such as the "judgement", or the "image" (cf Transformation
Metaphors derived experimentally from the Chinese Book of Changes (I Ching),
the Sphere of Change: Reframing metaphors of the I Ching as a codification
of the patterns of change, 2001). The poetic quality of a "judgement",
and its resemblance to a haiku poem, is illustrated by the following examples:
Hexagram Li (Clinging fire)
Hexagram Chin (Progress)
Hexagram Ku (Decay)
The Clinging. Perseverance furthers.
It brings success.
Care of the cow brings good fortune.
Progress. the powerful prince.
Is honored with horses in large numbers.
In a single day he is granted audience three times.
Work on what has been spoiled has supreme success.
It furthers one to cross the great water.
Before the starting point, three days.
After the starting point, three says.
It is to be expected that the poetic form of this Chinese pattern of 64 transformative
decisions ("the Book of Changes") might take the form of haiku, at
least when translated into Japanese. The same might be said of the Tao
Te Ching (cf Commentary
on Tao Te Ching Interpretation: and the possibility of higher order patterning,
2003) notably when interpreted succinctly (cf Tao
Te Ching Interpreted
Succinctly, 2003). In Imperial China the I Ching was of course
valued as a tool of policy-making appropriate to what is now termed kairotic
time. The I Ching was in fact required reading for the Chinese civil
service for about 1,000 years. One might well ask what tools of comparable
complexity and scope are currently used with respect to global governance --
and whether they too will last a millennium, or be replaced by others whose
logic would now seem to lack any credibility. In effect an I
Ching "condition" might
be understood as embodied into a haiku in order to offer the possibility of
engaging with the condition in order to transform it.
In a personal communication, Gianni Tibaldi draws attention to the contrast between two related notions:
- Kairos as: "creative ambiguity because of its capacity not only to express divergent meanings but also to generate indefinitely new meanings within the sense of an integrative knowledge" with associated notions of favourable occasion to achieve advantage.
- Krinos (or Krinõ), from which "crisis" derives,
as: 'a critical point of risk', of emotional-cognitive complexity,
relating to notions of separation, choice and decision, namely 'critical
points' of decisive judgement where subjective and environmental factors
determine either an evolutive or involutive trend. This may express
a notion of encountering another constructively or, on the contrary, to cope
More intriguing then is the possibility that the sense of a "strategic
which forces, opportunities and threats are compared may be understood as a
form of hyperspace in which such insights can be mapped (cf Hyperspace
Clues to the Psychology of the Pattern that Connects in the light of 81 Tao
Te Ching insights, 2003). This possibility relates to parallels and
resonances between strategies of poetry-making and policy-making (cf Poetry
making and Policy making: arranging a marriage between Beauty and the Beast,
1994). A classic strategic situation in chess, the French
defence opening, has, for
example, been described in haiku:
One man controls space
His opponent, the tension.
A knight, intrigued, leaps. [more]
Given the nature of humour, it too may serve to mark moments in kairotic
time -- especially as celebrated in the "crazy wisdom" insights of some Taoists. In this sense, as the "non-serious" complement to haiku, the often cynical or darkly humorous senryu may
have a distinct role to play in relation to insights into psychosocial relationships
(cf Humour and Play-Fullness: essential integrative processes in governance, religion and transdisciplinarity, 2005). As a strong advocate of humour in relation to creativity, Edward de Bono, through his "Creative Team", has proposed a 4-line variant on haiku -- the bonto -- for use on the web. Rules for line content are:
First line: sets out some extraordinary behaviour. The more bizarre the better.
Second line: gives the explanation for the bizarre behaviour.
Third line: gives the result or outcome of the behaviour.
Fourth line: provides some "philosophical" reflection on life in general but arising from the situation.
Some suggestions have been made for the use of haiku in reframing organizational
management situations (Edwina Pio. What's
Stopping You? Find out through Haiku, Workplace Spirituality).
Natural cognitive templates offered by haiku
The cognitive guidelines to strategy that are offered by nature are well illustrated
by the classical work of Miyamoto Musashi (The
Book of Five Rings: the classic guide to strategy). The chapters of
this book, the 5 rings, are organized in terms of the qualitative insights
offered by different approache or attitudes to battle, just as there are different
physical elements in life A more grammatically appropriate term would be "discipline":
- the Ground chapter: metaphorical discussion of martial arts, leadership,
and training as building a house.
- the Water chapter: some basic technique and fundamental principles.
- the Fire chapter: the heat of battle, and matters such as different
types of timing.
- the Wind chapter: the failings of various contemporary schools of swordfighting.
- the Void chapter: consciousness and the correct mindset.
Such metaphors may perhaps be understood more meaningfully as qualitative
descriptors of "ways of knowing" -- from the perspective of that
with which one identifies -- faced with that with which the identity is
obliged, or chooses, to engage. This may be framed as an "other", whether
hostile (an opponent or an enemy) or sympathetic (a relative, a friend, or
a lover). It may be reified as tangible, as in the case of an objective threat,
or dematerialized as intangible, as in the case of a threat invisible to others.
It is the "feeling" with
which one engages what is defined as reality. This feeling quality may be effectively
embodied in a haiku.
Further to his discussion of haiku and the martial arts, Bruce Ross (Liveliness in Japanese
and American Haiku, World Haiku Review, 2002) clarifies the role in relation to nature:
... unlike the mind, which merely collects and organizes sense experience, hara connects our feelings to the deeper essence of things in their wondrous outpouring from nature, both natura naturata and natura naturans at the same time, to borrow from Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
In the long history of Japanese poetry there has been a magnificent affective resonance that exhibits this union of metaphysical contexts for nature, natura naturata, and forthright depictions of nature in the particular in its various manifestations, natura naturans, as expressed in uniformly short lyric forms.
Nature effectively provides readily comprehensible templates for a wide variety
of relationships, strategies and transformations (metamorphoses) -- whether
familiar or unusual. In consequence, this "meme pool" is globally
organized so as to sustain its integrity. This ensures that insights (as "memetic
complexes"), ordered through haiku in resonance with it, will themselves be
coherently organized irrespective of the limitations of formal models (cf Psychology
of Sustainability: Embodying cyclic environmental processes, 2002
). This meme pool is to be experienced as neither static nor neutral. In effect
it encodes both the dynamic of the existential experience of "terrorism" and
the preoccupations of the vigilant security it evokes.
The strategic relevance is illustrated by the entry in Wikipedia on
biomimetics as the application of methods and systems found in nature to the
study and design of engineering systems and modern technology:
The transfer of technology between lifeforms and synthetic constructs is desirable because evolutionary pressure typically forces natural systems to become highly optimized and efficient. A classical example is the development of dirt- and water-repellent paint (coating) from the observation that the surface of the lotus plant is practically unsticky for anything (lotus effect). Examples of bionics results in engineering include hulls of boats imitating the skin membrane of dolphins, sonar, radar, and medical ultrasound imaging imitating echolocation of bats. [more]
Cognitive configuration of haiku -- and dimensions
of strategic engagement
Numerous experiments of very unequal quality
and ambition have been undertaken (see references below),
primarily from a western artistic or educational perspective, in order to
configure poetry in three dimensions, notably using virtual reality (VRML)
and/or hypertext (HTML) techniques for conveneient display and manipulation
on web browsers.
feasibility of modelling haiku poetry in virtual reality has notably been demonstrated
by Michael Kolitsky, director of Instructional Technology at Rowan
University. For example, he uses VRML technology to compose what
are in effect cubes of poetry where the second line of seven syllables serves
as the building block for four poems that are read horizontally or vertically.
In his work in 1999, one seven-syllable
line serves four first and last lines to form four poems.
The four poems are color coded on his computer and the middle line alternates
through each of the four colors to provide continuity for each poem. Additionally,
the edges of the poems form another poem. [more].
At this early stage the range of such experiments offers cognitive surprises
that are cause for reflection that invites further experimentation -- especially
in order to engage students. It is too early to conclude how such techniques
can best be used to configure semantic content to engender and hold new levels
Given the close association of haiku with the martial arts, it is appropriate
to note the significance of dimensionality in strategic situations. In the
tradition of western swordsmanship, the swordsman is understood to be able
to adopt essentially 14 recognizable and effective fighting postures (guards/wards/stances)
overall. Of these five are major universal ones that correspond to High, Middle,
Low, Hanging, and Back positions [more].
Fencing theory specifies a set of these positions either on guard in preparation
for defence against attack or in preparation for attack. Parries deflect the
attack by simply moving in a variety of directions, from one position to another.
These positions are distinguished as: Prime, Seconde, Tierce, Quarte, Quinte,
Sixte, Septime and Octave [more | more].
Fencers thus have a set of moves that they can apply in different strategies,
although the time between fencing moves or turns is measured in milliseconds
(cf Nick Evangelista, The Inner Game of Fencing: Excellence in Form, Technique,
Strategy and Spirit, 2000; The Art and Science of Fencing,
Western fencing is recognized to be primarily a "mental discipline", calling for subtlety, in addition to physical speed and agility -- which by themselves may well be inadequate. Modern foil fencing is the direct descendant of dueling -- of combat likely to end in death. As such it retains a visceral "edginess" that is part of the mental discipline that is learnt. Fencing combines learned reflexive skills with considered responses to observation of an opponent, applied psychology and strategy. [more]
Surprisingly poetry has indeed had a role to play in western fencing. As noted
by J. Clements ('To
the Two Hand Sword': Analysis of a 15th Century English Fencing Poem): "At
the time, rhyming verse was a common means of remembering lessons in all subjects. The
use of verse as well as metaphor combined with the abstract nature of describing
fighting concepts gives the material a cryptic quality". The
role of fencing as a metaphor, especially in dialogue, has been well recognized
(cf Robin Varnum. Fencing
with Words, 1996).
Of perhaps greater interest however are the eastern traditions of martial arts, especially
those with seemingly unjustified relationships to haiku.
In Kenjutsu (Ninja
swordfighting), for example, the person's strategic skills are framed in terms of five kamae,
which can be thought of as a posture or attitude displayed physically, psychologically
or both. These basic kamae (go ho) are:
- Joso no kamae Attack Ten no kamae (heaven) Ka (fire)
- Chuso no kamae Attack/defend
Mann (person) Do (soil)
- Geso no kamae Defense Chi (earth) Sui (water)
- Hasso no kamae Defense In (hidden) Moku (wood)
- Waki no kamae Defense Yo (sun) Kin (gold)
The strategic classic on fencing by Miyamoto Musashi (The
Book of Five Rings)
is divided, as noted above, into five books: The Ground Book, The Water Book,
The Fire Book, The Wind Book, and The Void Book. Successful swordfighting
necessarily requires that these be dynamically and artfully configured in
practice -- in ways that can be metaphorically, or poetically, described
by patterns of relationships of mutual-supplement and mutual-restraint, such
as the following::
(moku) makes fire (ka),
is extinguished by water (sui),
resulting ashes become one with the soil (do),
forms gold (kin).
Eastern martial arts tend to distinguish eight "directions of unbalancing"
(kuzushi in Judo and Kendo) These
may be associated with eight compass directions (in two dimensions) in which
an opponent may be moved so as break their balance. In three dimensions they
might be understood as the eight corners of a cube
within which the fighter is centered.
In Aikido these eight directions
are understood as ways to move one's body (Unsuko), to move one's opponenent (Kuzushi),
or to throw one's opponenent (Tsukuri). The eight directions and five
postures (above) have been combined in different martial art traditions through
movements, techniques, "energies", "gates", "stances" or "powers" (cf
Michael P. Garofalo, Thirteen
Postures of Taijiquan: Eight Gates and Five Directions,
2005; Michael P. Garofalo, Cloud
Hands Taijiquan and Qigong Guides, Bibliographies, Links, Resources).
Such "directions of unbalancing" might be usefully explored in relation to
the arts of propaganda, interrogation, and "re-education", as variously practiced
in all cultures. They might be understood as the ways of "breaking" or "getting
at" a subject of such arts -- notably with the assistance of torture.
A western equivalent to these "directions" is perhaps to be seen in esoteric
and magical understandings of configurations of angelic or demonic powers --
most widely recognized in the use of pentacles for magical rituals and in the
archetypal sugnificance attached to the Arthurian "roundtable". These
may be reflected in sacred architecture. The configurations may well be associated
with belief in the capacity -- through spells (analogous to haiku) and "words
of power" --
to invoke and direct supernatural powers to strategic advantage. These potentials
are now widely celebrated in blockbuster movies that excite the imagination
with resonances to archetypal symbolism -- exemplified by the case of Lord
of the Rings.
As an exercise of the imagination, and prior to its elaboration, relevant
insights into the cognitive status of such an enterprise was offered by its
creator J R R Tolkien (On
The definition of a fairy story -- what it is, or what it should be -- does
not, then, depend on any definition or historical account of elf or fairy,
but upon the nature of Faërie: the Perilous Realm itself, and
the air that blows in that country. I will not atytempt to define that,
nor to describe it directly. It cannot be done. Faërie cannot be caught
in a net of words: for it is one of its qualities to be indescribable, through
not impereceptible. It has many ingredients, but analysis will not necessarily
discover the secret of the whole.... Faërie itself may perhaps most
nearly translated by Magic -- but it is a magic of a peculiar mood and
power, at the furthest pole from the vulgar devices of the laborious, scientific,
However, in the light of the theme of this argument regarding the aesthetic
role of haiku in reframing the martial arts, it is appropriate to ask how the
dramatic conflicts in Faërie, that are a theme of Lord
of the Rings, contribute
to an archetypal reframing of the martial arts.
In eastern symbolism, such frameworks are intimately related to the art of feng
shui or geomancy,
as applied to physical topography and strategically appropriate placement.
The seriousness with which this is taken in developed Chinese societies is
evident in contemporary building construction, urban planning and environmental
design, notably in Singapore and Hong Kong [more].
Its value is recognized in education (cf Renée Heiss, Feng
Shui for the Classroom: creating a focused learning environment, 2004).
Feng shui is now being applied to the design of virtual environments. This
is illustrated by a keynote presentation to an ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality
Software and Technology (Seoul, 2000)
Feng Shui of Virtual Environments, 2000) that emphasizes
its value in understanding flow, notably in group dynamics. It is recognized
that corporations worldwide are now employing feng shui consultants to give
them a competitive edge in respondoing to changing and challenging
times (cf T. Raphael Simons, Feng
Shui Strategies for Business Success, 2005) [more].
It is valued in relation to investment strategies.
Of particular relevance to cognitive coherence in practice is how the static
positions are interrelated through flowing movement, as describeed, for example,
in the case of the Chinese martial art known as Meihuazhuang:
The static stances and moving steps are linked together to form the basic
structure... The five stances are performed in each of the directions (also
referred to as 'corners') and the overall pattern created resembles
a plum flower in full bloom. These 'corners' are connected by
the moving steps which act like the stem and branches of the plum blossom.
The most characteristic feature.... however, is the dynamic
alteration between static stances and moving steps, a training method which
coordinates the mind (shen -- intention and thought) with
Another example is provided by the martial art known as Ba
Gua Zhang: ("Eight-Diagram
Palms Shadow Boxing"):
The practice of Baguazhang is very Zen-like in its approach to calming and
focusing the mind. The basics are a series of movements done while walking
in a circle. The goal of this exercise is for the individual to understand
proper body alignment and relaxation. Once this practice is consistent, the
movements become faster and more intricate with turning and twisting, moving
the body in all possible angles and directions for fitness, centering and
agility. Baguazhang uses quick footwork and turns as part of as its self-defense
strategy...Its movements are based on the mobility of position and agility
of body, BGZ proves itself to be a formidable style for many practitioners.
Instead of directly attacking an oncoming force, BGZ "melts" around the
attack; either simultaneously redirecting the attack while closing the position,
or by evading it and repositioning one's self to an advantageous "doorway",
for finishing the opponent instantly. [more]
It is understandable that ability to determine and coordinate appropriate
strategic movement can be sustained cognitively by flexibily interrelated
complex metaphors. These provide mnemonic frameworks capable of orienting
thinking and associated action. Haiku -- as mnemonic markers -- can clearly
provide a way of articulating an aesthetic meme complex appropriate to each
such strategic insight. This is especially the case when the latter is of higher
dimensionality than isolated natural aesthetic phenomena that could otherwise
be used to encode the insight. It is not surprising therefore that the above-cited
resource on martial arts includes a section on haiku (Michael P. Garofalo, Cuttings:
Haiku and Short Poems Guides to Internet and Print Resources). Given
this traditional relationship, the semantic, memetic, or mnemonic resonance
between the poetic insight and the strategic (martial) art calls for greater
exploration in support of more appropriate strategies..
It is of course the case that constant practice by an individual practitioner
may obviate the need for such mnemonic devices -- since the body movements
and reflexes then encode the strategic insight. However verbal devices triggering
such insights are required in teaching such skills and in communicating strategic
opportunities to others to evoke coherent collective action.
The contrast of these views to western strategic thinking was first elucidated
by Scott A. Boorman (Protracted
game: a Wei-Ch'i interpretation of Maoist revolutionary strategy,
1971) who notably indicated the advantages of strategic thinking inspired by
the game of "go" (Wei-Ch'i in
Chinese), compared to that inspired by the game of "chess", as applied
to the Vietnam conflict [more | more].
Both perspectives can be usefully contrasted with that offered by James P.
Carse (Finite and Infinite Games: a vision of life as play and possibility,
1986) where: "A finite game is played for the purpose of winning,
and infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play" [more].
This brings into perspective the the transcendent integrity associated with
honourable engagement with an opponent -- much-extolled as a feature of martial
art (cf Honour
Essential to Psycho-social Integrity: challenge to the nameless of dishonourable
Configuring the pattern that connects
The conjunction of the WAAS and NATO events made it possible for participants
to configure the understanding of their strategic engagement with their underlying
themes through a pattern of complementary haiku. This is the proper
conclusion of that "bicameral" gathering -- the "pattern
that connects" so
vital to conservation of quality, in the terms of Gregory Bateson. That pattern
was notably the title of a presentation by Robert
Horn in the WAAS workshop
on the organization of knowledge for the benefit of humanity (chaired by Michael
Marien). The recogition of this elusive pattern has remained a challenge down
- Heraclitus: The unapparent connection is more powerful than
the apparent one
- Vaclav Havel: Education is the ability to perceive the hidden connections
- Fritjof Capra. The Hidden Connections: a science for
sustainable living (2002)
The Zagreb event
would be the first global event to have given form to the transition between
essential paradigms in this way -- thus establishing a gateway for future transitions.
It is appropriate to note that Kai Falkman (The String Untouched,
2005) sees the 110 haiku written by Dag Hammarskjöld as constituting
an autobiographical set of similar, although personal, import.
Effectively the individual haiku marked the complementary insights and transformative
moments through which participants were able to pass in order to embody understanding
of a new strategic initiative. A configuration of complementary haiku thus
provides markers of decisive moments of learning on the interweaving thematic
journeys of participants through the knowledge space engendered by the gathering
the Songlines of the Noosphere: From presentations by representatives to embodying
presence in transformation, 1996). Participants would have explored
this pattern in a variety of sequences.
Such a configuration might be understood
as a pattern of moments (of encounter) in kairotic time -- marked by haiku at
the intersection of distinct journey experiences in chronological time. In
any mind map of the
event, this might be explored as a configuration of singularities juxtaposed
through the interlocking of circular pathways -- as a skeletal framework
-- in chronological time. From a strategic perspective, it is possible that
the essence of the above-mentioned skill of the "five rings" of
Miyamoto Musashi, lies in the cognitive "interlocking" of those rings
in practice through a configuration of nodal insights held "secret" to ensure
competitive advantage (cf Boyé Lafayette
de Mente. Samurai Strategies: 42 martial secrets from
Musashi's Book of Five Rings, 2005).
From the neural
level underlying conscious experience, this interlocking of cycles might
be associated with the resonance phenomenon of "phase-locking" described
by neurophenomenologist Francisco Varela -- in which different brain regions
are interconnected in such a way that their neurons fire in synchrony. As noted
by Fritjof Capra (The
Hidden Connections, 2002), in describing this emergence of transitory
experiential states: "Through this synchronization of neural activity,
temporary 'cell assemblies' are formed, which may consist of widely dispersed
neural circuits." This model
has been applied to understanding of awareness of the moment
(Francisco Varela, Present-Time
Consciousness, 1999). This work is complemented by that of Gerald Edelman
and Giulio Tononi (Consciousness
and Complexity, 1998) who describe exchanges of parallel signals within
and among brain areas that ensure a momentary "dynamic binding" of
groups of nerve cells through a process termed "re-entry". In the
words of Capra: "Each
conscious experience emerges from a functional cluster of neurons, which together
constitute a unified neural process or 'dynamic core'" This integrative
dynamic core of changing activity patterns is then neither a thing nor
a location but a process of varying neural interactions.
The life cycle of any individual, gathering or group could then be understood
as a configuration of moments of encounter in kairotic time -- in which the
timeless quality of those moments is integrated -- as coeval "across
time", namely across the sequences of
chronological time in which they are experienced. As smaller
circles (or lesser circles) on the
surface of any spherical representation of the whole (see above),
such an understanding is consistent with artistic depictions by Australian
Aborigenes of the Dreamtime in
which current reality is held to be embedded -- using a multiplicity of circles
These might be understood as a living intuitive sense of the nature of the
access points to "semantic wormholes" into deep time, in its psycho-cultural
sense, from the shallowness of chronological time (cf Tom Griffiths, Travelling
in Deep Time: La Longue Durée in Australian History, 2000).
Such configurations of kairotic time reflects the sense of "composing
a life" as articulated by Mary Catherine Bateson (Composing a Life,
1989). Embedding moments of kairotic time in a configuration suggests a new
way of intepreting the insights of management cybernetician, and poet, Stafford
Beer (Beyond Dispute: the invention of team syntegrity, 1994)
in his icosahedral patterning of an infoset of 12 "issues" by 30
people through syntegration [more | more].
His work suggests the posibility of a theoretical underpinning for the widespread
(as indicated by any web search) organization of strategic insight into "30
ways" or "30 secrets".
Other potential structural metaphors offering related insights are:
- molecular structure of clathrate (or cage) compounds in which a lattice of
one type of molecule traps and contains a second type of molecule, notably
as in the structure of foams
hybrid structure of some chemical molecules based on the covalent
bond, notably benzene as fundamental to organic chemistry
Such structural understanding exemplifies the preoccupation of the Union of
Intelligible Associations cited above (cf Union
of Intelligible Associations: remembering dynamic identity through a dodecameral
The configuration of knowledge then bears an interesting relationship to the
of Indra in the heavens -- attributed to a Buddhist Tu-Shun (557-640
A.D.) -- where at every crossing of one thread over another, there is a gem
reflecting all other reflective gems, a fractal organization of knowing [more].
As a profound and subtle metaphor for the structure of reality, and of knowledge
of it, Indra's Net has also been seen by a number of authors as a useful metaphor
of the worldwide web (cf Martin Ryder, Augmentation
of the Intellect: network instruments, environments and strategies for learning,
1994). Each object in the world is then not merely itself, but involves every
other object in ways that have been a focus of postmodern exploration now rendered
plausible, if not irresistible,.in the light of the field theories of modern
physics (cf David Loy. Indra's
Postmodern Net, Philosophy East and West, 1993). The "jewel"
at each intersection is then to be understood as a mode of knowing in kairotic
time exemplified in this aesthetic by the pattern of associations evoked by
a single haiku poem.
The pathways of the figures above may be represented differently through the
tensegrity structures with which they are associated -- and which inspired
Stafford Beer in his use of the term "syntegrity".
One representation is in the figures below, with the strings in tension (more
visible in the right-hand figure) constraining the rods under compression into
a spherical configuration. In figures with more rods, the circularity
of the pathways become more apparent -- to the point that the rods on each
pathway "kiss-touch" establishing the "continuity" of that
This non-structural contact might also be understood as representing the jewel
of kairotic experience -- a paradoxical, existential suspension between two
stages of a pathway through the "tunnels" of chronological time.
Resonating with this "kiss touch" context, as developer of the cognitive strategic
gaming tools through the HipBone
Project (an ambitious web variant of Hermann
Bead Game), Charles Cameron
has a web facility using the juxtaposition of two quotes (or images):
They are intended to work in a way that I learned
from haiku: as thoughts dropped into the mind-pond, not so much for their
own sakes as for their concentric ripples and the interference patterns between
Metaphoricaly again, the kairotic haiku moment may be understood as a form
"bridge" across the discontinuity resulting from the linearity along
the pathway of chronological time -- and, as with the physics of sparks or
lightbulbs, functioning as a source of light or enlightenment. Such understandings
are echoed in the use of circlets of prayer beads -- each bead acting as a
mnemonic marker pointing to a distinct moment of significance (Designing
Cultural Rosaries and Meaning Malas to Sustain Associations within the Pattern
that Connects, 2000).
Spherical tensegity structures resulting from the interlocking of several circular pathways of rods constrained by strings
The role of game-playing as a way of comprehending the nature of Indra's Net has been explored by Charles Cameron (Hermann Hesse's Glass Bead Game: A Game Designer's Holy Grail...1997).
Rather than presenting insight through a single linear sequence of arguments,
as a journey, the proper integrative outcome therefore combines qualitatively
distinct ways of knowing, related (as in the traditional pattern of symbols
discussed above) as:
- a protective container or configuration (earth / "rock logic")
- of distinctively significant, complementary associations (air)
- with a mutually reinforcing informal dynamic ("water logic")
- constituting a source of transcendent identity and enlightenment (fire)
- perhaps together fundamental to what Edward de Bono terms "operacy" (metal)
A key achievement of the WAAS/NATO event might then be said to have been the
framing of the challenge of global threats, such as terrorism, as an aesthetic
challenge. There is a a terrible beauty to be found in weaponry and its destructive
power -- as the product of the best scientific minds of the world.
But beyond the aesthetic quality of the martial arts in destructive confrontation
between deadly enemies, the event pointed toward an even stranger aesthetic
of mutual transformation. The transhumanist theme
explored at the WAAS event may be a physical analogue, as with the preoccupations
of ISAAC/Einstein (Irreducible Semi-Autonomous
Adaptive Combat / Enhanced ISAAC Neural Simulation Toolkit) as an "artificial
life laboratory for exploring self-organized emergent behavior in combat".
Haiku could be understood to offer a device for communicating its nature
-- as well as the strategic opportunity and pathways it offers.
Strategic potential of cognitive commonalities between poetry and music
In his discussion of the relation between poetry and music, Damir Ibrisimovic
greater than knowledge, 2005) notes:
The poetry of ancient sages was full of rhythm, pitch, rhymes and other "poetic
tools" that would establish in listeners' minds associations across
sometimes huge poems like Homer's Iliad. A rhythm would sometimes represent
a character (or an emotion) without explicitly mentioning him (or emotion).
A rhyme would invoke previously spoken words bridging time passed and forming "many-word
concepts" that would otherwise be impossible to express in the spoken
These "poetic tools" of old sages were very much aimed at causing
repeated invocations (associations) of previously expressed thoughts/images
directing thoughts of listeners (through repetition) towards a "picture
as a whole" of the whole poem in which each of the "elements" was
re-enforcing all others. This enabled new levels of consistencies in evolution
of culture. Music also has other even more important aspects. Through the
rhythm it enables listeners to feel and act (dance) in (cooperative) unison
that increases a sense of belonging (or togetherness) to almost magical levels.
Some kinds of (shamanistic) music seem to be also tuned to "pulses" of
nature (as we perceive them) increasing a sense of togetherness with everything
that surrounds us.
William Harris (Metrics
in Verse and Poetry: the cramping of free expression), in discussing
that relationship, notes:
Over time Poetry acquired the role of container for important human thoughts
and subtler associations, while Prose was good for history and documentation,
essays and philosophy....what we need most is openness and a fine sense of
subtlety, taking time to watch the processes of thought as ideas configure
themselves in an auditory montage within our consciousness. It requires mortar
to put things together firmly, and the mortar of music or of any other
art is always the same.
Such insights are reinforced by the suggestion of Francisco Varela (Phenomenology
in Conscioness Research, 1996) that the best way to understand the nature
of conscious experience is through a musical metaphor -- potentially implying
the nature of the reinforcement offered by music. Frijtof Capra (The
2002) describes this as:
The best way to think of this neural process is, perhaps, in musical terms.
There are noises; then they come together in synchrony as a melody emerges;
then the melody subsides again into cacophony, until another melody arises
in the next moment of resonance.
Operationally, the role of music in "organizing" human knowing is
evident from its use to "psych up" combatants, or to terrify opponents (even
in modern techniques of "psyops"), in addition to its traditional role as "sacred
music" to dispose awareness to insightful modes of understanding. In the latter
role it may play a major mnemonic role.
The potential importance of the aesthetic dimension in the future organization
of knowledge -- the "search for a new program" through which collective
reality is constructed -- is one requisite identified by Francisco Sagasti
Twilight of the Baconian Age: background paper for a book of essays on knowledge,
progress and development, 1997). Elsewhere (Knowledge
Gardening through Music: patterns of coherence for future African management
as an alternative to Project Logic,
2000) reference is made to the experimental use by some elite management schools
of a working relationship with symphony orchestras as a catalyst for strategically
Sagasti's other requisites are the recovery
of a diversity of cultural perspectives on the human condition and the reinterpretation
of the Promethean myth to
include safeguarding non-western cultures and ecosystems. These address
his recognition that:
By the time our understanding -- let alone our habits and institutions --
catch up with the products of our own intellect, we will have moved, once
more, to uncharted territory. We do this by enlarging and transforming the
realm of human experience; and also by creating new realities, generating
new realities and discovering new mysteries to be unveiled.... we are living
now in a uique period of human history in which reality is being reconfigured
for all. We are beginning a difficult transition towards something whose
outlines cannot as yet be clearly discerned.
Beyond knowledge -- to wisdom?
A number of speakers at the WAAS event referred to the transition from information
through knowledge to wisdom. Some specifically drew attention to the spiritual
dimension beyond. As noted above, haiku are closely associated with a mode
of expression favoured by Taoists sages and specifically those associated with "crazy
wisdom". The emergence and recognition of wisdom is understandably challenged
by a number of factors (cf Global
Strategic Implications of the Unsaid: from myth-making towards a wisdom society,
Isdom of the Wisdom Society: Embodying time as the heartland of humanity,
Other Wise: dynamics of a meaningfully sustainable lifestyle, 1998; Development
beyond Science to Wisdom: Facilitating the emergence of configurative understanding
in Councils of the Wise through computer conferencing dialogue, 1979).
The transition is most insightfully explored by Peter Collins through his
work on holistic mathematics. He argues
(in a personal communication) that chronological time can be linked very closely
with a linear notion of dimension whereas kairotic time relates to a more mysterious
However philosophically there are significant differences as between linear
(i.e. unambiguous) and circular (i.e. paradoxical) notions. Whereas linear
notions correspond to 'real' (i.e. specifically conscious),
the circular correspond to 'imaginary' (i.e. holistically unconscious)
notions of meaning. Now this is embodies in the dimensional relationship
2πi = 0 [derived from Euler's
identity]. In other words just as we in switching from
linear (analytic) to circular (holistic) meaning we likewise switch from 'real' (conscious)
to 'imaginary' (unconscious) notions, likewise in switching
geometrically from the unit line (as radius) to the overall circle (as circumference)
we here switch from a real to an imaginary definition of units. So the Euler
formula then embodies a true (unreduced) circular as opposed to (reduced)
linear notion of dimension....
Efforts to map the complex
in terms of "real" and "imaginary" axes have shown
that the Euler
also plays a role in describing the interior of the Mandelbrot set (cf Psycho-social
Significance of the Mandelbrot Set: a sustainable boundary between chaos and
, 2005) [more
]. Collins continues:
In chronological terms all moments of time are uniform. In this sense it does not matter when events occur. However in kairotic terms all moments are distinct (i.e. possess a unique qualitative significance). Therefore the moment in which an event occurs is uniquely significant.... So what is happening in these kairotic moments is that both the exterior (objective) and interior (subjective) aspects of understanding are fused in dynamic balance releasing the unconscious through spiritual insight.
Collins sees this condition as quite similar to the experiential singularity (discussed above), arguing that "Indeed the culmination of the causal level -- which represents the pure spiritual experience of the unconscious - is often represented as an apex or point ('bindu') so that all spiritual meaning is concentrated in each moment (that is now empty of ego identification with conscious phenomena). He concludes:
However even in everyday events something of the same experience can be
especially apparent at key moments - which we can discern as truly
significant. So, recognising such key moments (of kairotic time) - which
often during times of crisis - is very important in terms of personal and
political decision-making. Indeed I was impressed with the saying attributed
to Jean Monnet who was so influential in the early formation of the EU:
'people only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognise necessity when crisis is upon them'
The key question, given the potential mnemonic association of haiku with the
martial arts and strategic decision-making, is to what degree (and how) such
an art enables (or predisposes) the mind to take decisions in terms of "strategic
Lamar Tooke and Ralph Allen. Strategic Intuition and the
Art of War, Military
Review, 1995). Like those described in relation to the "flow experience"
Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday
Life, 1998), such decisions might be described as:
From such a perspective, how would those variously motivated to undertake "violent" or "non-violent" strategies
be empowered? Might they then be able to detect surprising transformations
of their initial understanding of a strategic situation that would ensure a
qualitatively superior outcome? How can kairotic moments be "evolved" through
imbuing the context with greater significance -- imbuing the environment with
intelligence? Would such thinking prove appropriate to the strategic challenge
of terrorism? (cf Transforming
the Encounter with Terrorism, 2002)
In the light of the arguments of Francisco R Sagasti (Knowledge and Innovation
for Development: the Sisyphus Challenge of the 21st Century, 2004; Development
Cooperation in a Fractured Global Order, 1999), notably his reference
to the twilight of the 400-year Baconian era, the WAAS theme of the Future
of Knowledge (Evolutionary challenges of the 21st century) can usefully
be reframed in terms of providing a new kind of order to contain fragmentation.From
such a perspective, the accompanying NATO workshop focus on Developing
resilience in societies at risk and threatened by terrorism calls for new
existential understanding of who is likely to be terrorized
within such a fragmented order, and by what, and what strategic resilience is
then possible (cf Varieties
of Terrorism: extended to the experience of the terrorized, 2004).
|The study found this
Haiku holds the threat of death
Write prose live longer
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