Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Limited options precipitate creativity

All mathematicians (and many others) immediately recognize the sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 as the first few Fibonacci numbers. In this article, G. K. Pincus proposes a new poetic form, the fib, whose line lengths (measured in syllables) are given by these numbers.

At first, I suspected that most such verses would simply be twenty syllables of English prose broken up to fit the "design parameters". After all, history is full of awkward attempts to use mathematical toys such as the Fibonacci senquence as a basis for art. However, after reading some contributions from the comments to the original post, as well as those featured in a follow-up article, I've found that this form has a real character to it. The first four lines are short and punchy, almost primal; the last two lines seem locquacious by comparison, allowing an outpour of articulate expression. It seems that Pincus struck that delicate balance of constraint; both sufficient to focus creative drive while relaxed enough to prevent the output from being artificial and bland.

Great? Poor?
I'm no judge
Of this kind of thing,
But I know I like what I see.

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