NotaBene .

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Abstract: The Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa (1763 - 1828) advocated a childlike state of consciousness for composers of haiku. This essay firstly examines Issa's aesthetic approach in the context of cultural antecedents, including Chinese Taoism and Japanese Pure Land Buddhism; and secondly it relates the approach to recent research in neuroscience concerning the development of the Default Mode Network (DMN). Issa's desire, expressed in one of his early poems, to become a child on New Year's Day can be understood as an attempt to return to a primary state of consciousness that preceded the development of the DMN or adult ego. The essay argues that this state of primary consciousness continues to be an important prerequisite for excellent haiku.

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