Zinovy Vayman – Hi-tech Haiku

Zinovy Vayman

Hi-tech Haiku

Panel discussion on new technologies for haiku was opened by Tadashi Shokan Kondo.
He opined that one haiku may change a whole world and he got carried away with that
insight.  Tadashi also mentioned Dr. Skinner of Harvard and recalled Walden Pond as an
American landmark.  I visualized the famous Skinner’s box in which a human being was
isolated (a sort of a coffin) and tried to absorb the high-tech vision.  But instead of it I
began channeling two miniature poems, one by Issa.

                                        The way of this world—
                                        We walk on top of hell
                                        Looking at flowers

and a quasi-haiku by Joseph Brodsky:

                                        spur of the moment
                                        and cheap pants pulled down—
                                        that’s how the world will end

Jim Kacian spoke next about how ambitious and fool-hardy we become as haiku writers
and readers and ruminated about audiences and “niche” publishing houses (he is one of
them).  Rich publishing houses may reach more people and web does wonders for haijin
who may satisfy their ego needs and even use “i-universe” to produce books on computer.
“Honorary European” Jim also hopped on a hi-tech bandwagon and was supported by
Visnja McMaster.  She praised haiku blogs’ capabilities.

The only low-tech demo by Helga Harle reminded me of an interesting fact: that Indian
government fed its people using low-tech agriculture.  Just by hard work it solved the
problem of hunger.

My many years of work in the hi-tech field of solar energy started to creep onto me
when Tadashi remarked how lonely haiku poets are and crescendoed with his motto
“Write renku!”

Ah, my dear haijin, the solar panel house which instead of paying electric bills, was
receiving payments from the electric company, cost $1,000,000 20 years ago.

The price of the solar cells dropped by using simpler technology and CHEAP Chinese
labor kicked in and the solar companies became more or less feasible.

And I concluded that when a haiku book becomes like a Dover Thrift Edition’s “Haiku
Anthology” by Faubion Bowers, this thin volume priced at $1.50 (remarkable
coincidence—the price of 1 kilowatt of the sun-produced electricity also should be less
than $1), only then we might have substantial delivery of such books to the reading
classes.  We must do so only with very good stuff distilled through kukai, contests,
workshops and selfcensorship.  We also may produce an inexpensive book on a Xerox
machine (typed on computer, a type-writer or even written by hand.)

Mimicry of the huge publishing houses is not a way for people trying to share their
chamber music of haiku.

Such a SAMIZDAT activity was dismissed by Jim Kacian.  But why?  We did just that
and made a book of haibun (after no response from Rich Youmans, an editor of the
American haibun publishing house at Cape Cod, Massachusetts) and distributed it among
more than 700 people either for free (95%) or for a nominal fee of a couple of dollars,
which may be a fair price if snail mailing is involved.  It is easy to recycle.

                                        crawl,crawl,oh,my snail!
                                        carry your house
                                        until it is empty

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