Thursday, February 10, 2011

Haikunomic 02: Slackness at the boundary

In haiku, constraints
must be barely satisfied
but never binding.


Just like forced rhymes are a mark of amateurism in other sorts of lyrics, your haiku must barely satisfy its constraints without giving the feeling that the constraints are actually affecting it. It must feel natural, not forced into suboptimal phrasing by binding syllable counts. There are strings tied to each of your hands, pulled *just* taut to the left and right; if you want to move left or right, they will restrict you. But if you're already standing where you want to be, your optimization program is unaffected. The strings may as well be slack.

Of course, in economics this sort of situation arises all the time. For example, market transactions are really and truly constrained by how much stuff people are willing to buy and sell at a given price. A well-functioning market finds a price at which those constraints are exactly satisfied when everyone is simply doing exactly what they want to do.

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