Genre : Haiku
Design from limitation
Hummingbird’s beak, like a straw,
It collects nectar.
The Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry inspired by a series 17th century philosophers. The standard formula includes 17 on (usually translated as “syllable”) organized across 3 segments, classically organized in a 5-7-5 metre. Traditionally the usage of the haiku was for commenting on parallel’s between the natural world and whatever the writer wants to discuss. In the modern era, the haiku isn’t expected to fit into the 5-7-5 structure and modern writers rarely force themselves to even use nature as an allegory. The basic formulation is such:
1) Nature-related imagery (5)
2) a cutting statement intended to tie the nature imagery to the subject of the third line (7)
3) the subject of the writer’s intention (5)
The intended audience for this haiku is “me”. I put the word “me” in quotes because I am referring to a more archetypal “me” than the literal Haile Uchenna Deen Carson.
I wrote this haiku for people like me. I wrote this haiku for fellow designers. Not only is this haiku a bit of advice, it is also a challenge, a reminder, and an indictment of my practices before taking this English composition course.
As one who has read my blog for the 4 years it has been up might guess, my style was somewhat anarchic. I would start on 1 subject, wander through about 5 or 6 others, then scramble at the end to explain how it all ties together. One important point I frequently missed was the ancient adage “keep it simple, stupid”. As a game designer, I often advise others in what I call “single core design”. In short, figure out the one mechanic your game is “about” and slug that bad boy out of the park before adding bells and whistles. This course has taught me the significance of a second adage: “Physician, heal thyself”.
I want to briefly discuss Billy Collins (Collins). I don’t want to bring up any single line as much as the entire speech, which is a 13 minute assault on how commencement addresses typically work.
I need to stick to single subjects. Flourishes and features can be added later. I must learn to put the important stuff at the front seat.
I chose the haiku because it is the genre that best illustrates the most important lesson I took from this course. When I wrote before this class I tended to ramble and my most common response was TL;DR. For this reason I chose the shortest genre I could imagine. the Haiku can not be any longer than 17 syllables, 5 in the first line, 7 in the second, 5 in the third.
The beak of the swallow is thin and needle like [INCOMPLETE, NEED TO CONTINUE]
NOTES FOR ELABORATION
The reason I chose the Haiku is because I intended the audience to be myself and I wanted to send a message about brevity and efficiency. I saw the traditional haiku as the purest distillation of what has been wrong with my writing, something that had eluded me until maybe a week ago (I think it clicked with the Infographic lectures).
I’m sure you have noticed my pattern of speech carries a similar flaw, I tend to over-elaborate on every single point I’m trying to make instead of getting it out and letting it stand.
This is due to a neurological disorder that I have struggled with my entire life.
I understand your concern that the haiku feels like a sort of escape from having to do extra work and, when I first considered it I was worried that it would look like that. When I first read this assignment I considered some grand work, something that would really showcase my more esoteric knowledge on a series of subjects. After all, I’m writing a thesis and thesis discourses should be detailed.
That is when I realized I had completely missed the point.
The purpose of this class isn’t to show off, I’m a more skilled wordsmith than half of the student body but resting on that would have completely ignored the most important lesson I picked out of this course.
Art is best when brief.
That doesn’t mean treating everything I design like a Pollock painting with smears of data tossed haphazardly on a campus; it means using shorthand and imagery.
This is why I chose a haiku.
I wanted to force myself to paint with broader strokes, to try to distill a single concept into as small an area as possible. I understand this is solipsistic but I think that this is a very important lesson I need to learn.
Collins, Billy, Colorado College, 19, May, 2008, http://www.graduationwisdom.com/speeches/0135-Billy-Collins-Gives-Brilliant-Witty-Commencement-Speech-Address-At-Colorado-College-2008.htm