Vol 11 No 1
Nature, Haiku & Logic
That evening at Vespers, the reading was from the Song of Songs and our winter visitor arrived from Japan. The meal was especially delicious. Brother Raphael having finished the apricots. After clearing, Bockfrith of Leiden, the Master of the Novices, introduced us to the Grand Master, Matsius Bashvili of Tallinn. Matsius told us of his joy and sense of freedom at being back in Ireland again; and agreed to demonstrate the ‘Chiming Bells’ Sententia, as given in the best reformed houses of Northern Hokkaido. We took our positions, Calbo of Montpelier being scribe at the sand table, Peter of Bologna in ink on the tablets.
Matsius stated the first sentence:..................nature is the honey of haiku
This we repeated, one by one and in unison: nature is the honey of haiku
How many variables?
“Three,” said Dencius (Limerick). “Nature, honey and haiku.”
How many possible articles?
“There are n+1 determiners,” said Hochman von Spritzenstrudl, of Paris, “where n is less than the number of winning rows in noughts and crosses.”
How many links? State!
“Two - no, three,” myself (Dubius of Constantine).
What are they?
“Is and of, but...”
That is sufficient. Define is!
There was a shocked silence. Mercedes d’AltaVista said: “Would you have us do so positively as in the American United Field Theory, Revised from the Venerable Paul, or according to the usage of ‘The Plain Man’s Pathway to Rome’ of our contemporary Master William of Ockham?”
This, as Mercedes explained to me afterwards, was meant to be diverting. The Systematic Theology (3 vols) of Paul Tilhich is apparently a positive Protestant white-wash founded upon nothing; whereas the Summa of Brother William is negative, though still Catholic, being based on alleged positives. The other Mercedes (of Spartak Split) was transferred to Rome, having been caught reading The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy between the sheets. Friar William was later marked for saying the Romans took too much and had to flee to Bavaria, leaving behind his Razor.
Matsuo lifted an eyebrow. “Be quiet, you fool,” whispered Bockfrith, “or I’ll have you whipped! Matsius-san, I apologise for all. In truth, we’ve finished the Tables of Articles and the Scroll of the Lesser Prepositions. We would be honoured if you could go straight to the Hokkaidan treatment of the ‘Ring of Bells’.
Matsius bowed deeply and went on: Nature, Honey, Haiku. Ring the Bells!
We chanted: nature, honey, haiku - nature, haiku, honey
honey, nature, haiku - honey, haiku, nature
haiku, nature, honey - haiku, honey, nature
Which term do we take first?
“The first, er - Nature.” (Erasmus Montanus)
“Nearly always.” (Dencius)
Define honey !
“Honey is a sweet viscous fluid made by bees from nectar and stored to serve as
food during the winter. Also a term of endearment.” (Rushd of Antioch)
That is three definitions.
“One of nature and two of use,” murmured Tristram of Wodz.
Define haiku ! (silence) Very well, then: a haiku, or hokku, is a verse of 17 syllables.
A phononym of hokku is hook-and-eye; also the first verse in renga.
“That is 2 words. And 3 definitions,” said Colbo, gently.
“There is no entry for haiku in Inoue’s Smaller Dictionary,” Matsius conceded.
“And therefore it doesn’t exist,” said Spritzenstrudl, under his breath.
“Let us return to Nature,” said Bockfrith, “or we shan’t have time for the transformations.” Dencius unlocked the great ‘Webster’ Dictionary, the only book permitted to the novices and read: “Nature is the physical universe//its laws and forces;//the essential//or the permanent character of something;// the general// or inborn character,//or disposition. Natural can mean normal;//the condition of man prior to civilisation;//by nature (in painting) is that done in the presence of the subject. See also Life.”
“Twelve definitions, mainly distinct,” said Crux of Coimbra, who wasn’t asked.
Matsius looked a little happier: Total?
Peter of Bologna looked up: “Let us not be hasty.” He wrote on three tablets:
nature (10); honey(3); haiku (2 or 3)
Caibro hesitated, “…Not less than 50 - do I have to write them all out?”
“No,” said Bashvii. “Choose one.”
“Allow me,” said Vince of Santa Barbara: a haiku is honey if it’s natural...
“Do we have an Adversus?” asked Bockfrith.
“Yes,” said Raphael, the gardener. “I am. In this life you can’t have everything:
the honey in haiku is natural
therefore it’s unnatural to be without a honey
but that’s life, and sad; though only in a tanka…
No nature, no honey, no haiku.”
“The objection, from Leiden?” said Matsius.
“There can be none,” said Bockfrith, conclusively.
Bockwurst and Master Matso were the last to leave, myself in attendance. “Tell me Mats, I thought the Hokkadians did all this on computer spreadsheets nowadays.”
Bashoo looked aside. “Nein, Leide, the houses in the Far North are poor. They can’t afford them.”
Leiden looked down, “Yes, that’s how it is. We can’t afford to buy new books.”
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