On English Haiku

English Haiku rule with Pie Chart

The Recipe

Picture a seasonal three-line haiku
arranged in a pattern of 5-7-5.
Share the five syllables of the first line
equally amongst the second line’s seven.
Take the share held by one of those seven
and give equal cuts to all five of the third.
Now fold your three lines into two assymetrical sections,
divide the share held by one-fifth of the third
equally between the five of the first,
then one fifth of that first among each of the third,
and so on and on periodically.

7 responses

  1. More explanation please Brad. 80% are zeros — and there’s a pleasing diagonal in the table cutting through those zeros like the Israelites through the Red Sea. But what do the zeros represent? The space between words and lines? And the other numbers?

    • Hi John. Your questions have prompted me to write the recipe, with inspiration and guidance from Sol LeWitt’s examples in conceptual art. I will update the post with it as soon as I have triple checked that the instructions are sound! A word of warning though… while the instructions might be sound, after seeing them you might wish you hadn’t asked for it.

      I used Microsoft Excel to do the math on the numbers. Notably, the terminating (zero) decimals that appear in the top of the table are a result of Excel not being able to handle the infinitely repeated sequence of digits (285714) that should be there. I think they create a cumulative error further down, causing the 285714 sequence to fade away, but it would take a long while of long division by hand to prove it! Maybe, in the manner of much conceptual art, I will leave it for someone else to realise the proof.

      P.S. I have also seen that repeating sequence written as 142857. I’m not sure which one is correct.

  2. My mind doesn’t work well, mathematically, so I cannot take this seriously. But then, I don’t take the English haiku seriously either!

    I look at this—it seems a busy, patterned carpet of sorts, next to a yellow smiley face that has lost its face and turned teal, with a couple of skin grafts, and a crinkly cowlick springing out of its head.

    I contemplate, wonder, and laugh uproariously……To have thought to do it, is a wonderful idea, Brad, thank you!

    • I was inspired to make this after reading a few essays from Kenneth Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing, which essentially reminded me that it’s ok to let go of the seriousness, so I’m perfectly happy that you didn’t take it seriously either, Cynthia. It was fun, and has prompted a bunch of new ideas to play with in future, including the one I will shortly post above in response to John’s questions. I have one of those cowlicks springing from my head right now thanks to all the forehead rubbing and hair pulling during the recipe writing process!

  3. The composition of the text reveals an akimbo stripe of lesser density swashing through the composition. i think there’s a golden mean in it somewhere. Interesting how that swash pattern happened, it adds up to something. The circle is like the leading role in the play who gets the scene stolen by the text. I like that it is a complex circle with things happening in and around it. This is conceptual art imo, and it’s original and quite thought-provoking.

    • That 142857 sequence running through is a fascinating one. I’m not sure what the proper explanation for it is. Maybe it is a property of prime numbers in division…
      I always enjoy playing around in the conceptual art space, Kathi. It requires a surprising amount of sustained thinking and concentration to enter that mindspace, and for all the deep thinking there’s no guarantee that another mind will connect with the output.

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