New Civilization News: Strategic resilience through haiku patterns    
 Strategic resilience through haiku patterns33 comments
30 Nov 2005 @ 21:45, by Flemming Funch

Tony Judge wrote a paper about haikus and martial arts and strategic decision making. As usual, Tony's article is very deep and extremely well researched.

I've never really understood haikus. But this helps. Like, here's a little overview:
The following comments on haiku benefit notably from the insights of Kai Falkman (The String Untouched, translation of En Orörd Sträng, Ordfront, 2005).

Haiku is essentially a very short poem depicting a specific experience in nature or in a human context. It is contrasted with a related form, senryū, which tends to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature -- senryū are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are serious.

The traditional Japanese rules for haiku require the use of 17 syllables grouped into three lines composed of respectively 5-7-5 syllables. These rules are applied in a multitude of languages by a worldwide "haiku movement" (cf World Haiku Club; Haiku International Association) [more]. The emphasis is clearly placed on succinctness and appropriateness, requiring extremely careful consideration of the pattern of words used and the effect they together create. The superfluous is excluded. In the words of Antoine de Saint Exupery, "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Non-Japanese haiku poets have explored an even more abbreviated 3-5-3 form of haiku, as explained by Keiko Imaoka (Forms in English Haiku) in discussing the linguistic circumstances that necessitate shorter English haiku to be more loosely structured than Japanese haiku:

Over the years, however, most haiku poets in North America have become aware that 17 English syllables convey a great deal more information than 17 Japanese syllables, and have come to write haiku in fewer syllables, most often in three segments that follow a short-long-short pattern without a rigid structure. This style is called by some "free-form" haiku.

The core feature of haiku is an experience described in a concrete image designed to evoke the same experience in the reader. A good haiku is not simply a static description. Three valued attributes are:

* embodiment of a transformation -- possibly with a surprising ending and/or a lingering poetic atmosphere. This may be catalyzed by describing an impression characteristic of one sensory organ through words normally descriptive of the impression through another. Images may be connected in a surprising way, possibly by changing perspectives calling for movement between them. Thinking is surprised and changes direction. Metaphors are however rarely used in haiku, because the image is expected to speak for itself and not be compared with something else in order to be accentuated or transformed in significance. However it is consequently recognized as a form that is wonderful for metaphorical descriptions

* capacity to hold several layers of meaning that may be discovered or explored -- possibly subsequently on reflection, or over a period of time. This may be achieved by using a proximate image like a fractal to imply the larger context of which it is a detail. Indirect insight is typical of haiku.

* act as a container for deep meaning, as characterized by a sense of poignancy, being touched, existential tragedy, or inevitability beyond conventional frameworks. It offers a value-charged integrative perspective.

Stress is placed on the concreteness of the images. Purely abstract or intellectual concepts are not considered valid haiku -- irrespective of their conformity with the formal rules or the value of the experience they may engender. Meaningful insights overtly expressed are considered as an imposition, potentially alienating to the reader. This is an implicit aesthetic that is discovered by a receptive sensitivity rather than an invasive technique. A degree of detachment or distance is valued. Although the concrete images may be anchored in the immediate or distant past -- perhaps specifically associated with a season -- the effect sought is an experience in the present moment, the immediate here and now.

And then he touches on stuff like the "catalytic role of haiku in kairotic time". Kairos or Kairotic is a concept that's hard to define, but it refers to some kind of irreducible experiential singularity, and it can be seen in contrast to chronological (linear) time. Some kind of moment of clarity and truth. Which relates to haikus, and it relates to tao and martial arts, and to paradoxical states of pure being or of not-doing. You know, going beyond the mind and linear logical thinking, and just experiencing the truth of what's in front of you, or in you. And acting based on that.

But I still can't write a haiku. Well, let me try...

Words in syllables
meaning frozen into portable bits
understanding is wordless

Was that a haiku? Hey, that went pretty well. How about:

I am speechless
A world is there now
saying it all


Red, green, blue
Pixels light on my screen
Nothing is hidden

I like the 3-5-3 syllable thing best. [But my mind glazed over, and I didn't notice it said "syllable" and not "word", and I counted words] I also like the Bontos. Actually it is a great creative exercise to construct stuff like that, so let me try one of those:

Have your supper in the fridge
Cold food spoils less
Freezing might catch you a cold
Tempered balance makes your way

Ooh, I can't stop now.

Writing haikus to be strategic
Striving to be singularly decisive
Do I transform or just explode?
Nothing new was known before

[I forgot the syllable rules there too. Poetic license!]

OK, I'm going to push "Post" now. But, indeed, it would probably be wise to check if world leaders, large or small, can get themselves to write haikus. Anybody who only lives in the linear world of mind is likely to be dangerous.

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1 Dec 2005 @ 19:50 by ming : Syllables
Damn, I suddenly realize it said syllables, and I counted words, which is much easier.

Bad, bad Ming
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Gosh, it is much harder to count syllables  

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What is meant by syllables exactly?
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1 Dec 2005 @ 23:34 by ming : Syllables
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