What surrealism and haiku have in common

Surrealists aimed to jar people. But they didn’t just jar. They had methods and messages. Surrealists filled their writings and paintings with images they believed were imbued with the deeper, common experiences of man.

This is where I start to equate surrealism with haiku. These days, when people say something is surreal they mean strange, disconnected. They are talking about something that they can't understand. However, that wasn't exactly the surrealists' goal.

Surrealists were looking to show what was beyond every day. They were looking to show how we take everything around us for granted.

Now think about Basho's famous "old pond" poem -- probably the most famous poem in the world -- it was the first poem to displace consciousness.

Literal Translation by Fumiko Saisho: 

Fu-ru (old) i-ke (pond) ya, 
ka-wa-zu (frog) to-bi-ko-mu (jumping into) 
mi-zu (water) no o-to (sound)

Translated by Jane Reichhold:

old pond
a frog jumps into
the sound of water

Phasing, out of phase, this frog, this surrounding, this sound, this consciousness, this sound source, the splicing of it all... the Jung-like meditation of "Am I sitting on the rock or am I the rock?".

Haiku poets don't practice automatic writing as the surrealists did. Their methods are usually quite the opposite. But still, they are trying to break through the numbness of everyday life caused by the filters we apply to the world around us.

…so light is healing itself of the when in the well;
In the well ⎯Eyedark, a moon state
of lunatic clear sounds, emerges.

by Gene Myers

While habitual thinking makes life more manageable, artists look to get past the usual so we don't take our existence for granted, or as the surrealists might have put it, to wake people up.

"This" is how surrealism and haiku are a lot alike.

Wasn't Basho's ku the first poem to say, there is "this" and then there is you interpreting "this"?

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