‘Now being seen off, now seeing off…’

Kenko writes, ‘In all things, it is the beginnings and the ends that are interesting.’ A greeting, a farewell; a fresh hello, a tender adieu. In Robert Aitken’s translation of Basho’s haiku, we observe the farewell at its most elemental: ‘Now being seen off, Now seeing off–the outcome: Autumn in Kiso.’

What is of interest, of aesthetic interest here, which is to say, in life: is it what goes on or what does not? But what goes on dulls the senses and weakens the heart. The full moon cannot hold us for long nor can the long-talker. A house done-up fancies, in its ever-sameness, that it will never perish, a housekeeper rendering this true and timeless. But then beauty! Beauty! What quivers the spirit, wavering it, aching it back–what except the fever of existence?

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