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Basho and the Aesthetics of Wandering: Recuperating Space, Recognizing Place, and Following the Ways of the Universe

From: Philosophy East and West
Volume 53, Number 3, July 2003
pp. 291-307 | 10.1353/pew.2003.0022


An appeal is made to the foot travels of Matsuo Basho, especially his 1689 journey to northern Japan, reflected in his Narrow Road to the Interior, as examples of wandering. It is suggested that while the travels of a poetwanderer such as Basho are notably distinct from shamanic travels in some respects, they are similar in other important ways, for example in their capacity to give perspective to our everyday experience. Based on BashoÕs example, three aspects of wandering are discussed that may be of aesthetic interest, and it is concluded that in the face of various technological and social developments in industrial societies that increasingly alienate us from our environment, wandering may help us to recover a sense of the depth of space, the real diversity of places, and our human lives in the larger context of nature.