Computer Overlord of Haiku

Haiku Möbius Printer

I would like to announce my intention of writing every possible haiku using computer technology.  Ever since I read Jorge Luis Borges’ story “The Library of Babel,” I have been excited about the possibility of a complete set of any written form.  In Borges’ story, the library contains every possible book with a length of four hundred and ten pages.  Reproducing the library, I thought, might require too much paper for the forests of the world to withstand.  I decided on something a little less ambitious.  My project will contain every possible haiku written using the English alphabet (A strange name for a set of letters that contains neither alpha nor beta). 

The key to completeness is in the letters.  It is not necessary that all of the words be spelled correctly, or even that they be words at all.  I will give you example haiku so you know what I am talking about.


Imagine this being read with a sort of ululating pulse of the larynx in order to produce the syllables necessary to conform to the haiku meter.  I plan to ignore all restrictions other than they syllable count of the traditional haiku.  Here is a second haiku:

a aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Notice that there is a space after the initial letter a.  That is the difference.  It should be vocalized in the same way as the first poem when read aloud, but it begins with the word “a.”

Why write these poems?  Because I am impatient to know they exist.  I am impatient for beauty.  Also, I will be the author of all of these haiku.  Don’t worry.  You can still write haiku, I will just require you to acknowledge me as the origin.  Feel free to use them.  Haiku for everyone!

Once I have used my algorithm to produce the electronic text of all of these haiku, it will be available in a printed volume.  At first, I planned to print the collection in several traditionally bound books, but, upon calculating the paper required, decided to print the poems on a giant Möbius strip, forming a one-sided, looping palimpsest of poems.  It may be impossible to read. Using a small font on ten kilometers of paper, trillions of poems will be still need to be printed on each square nanometer.

The scale of this project leaves a little time for you who enjoy the discovery of new haiku to practice your art.  I have produced a mock-up of the printing arrangement, but I am waiting to use the supercomputer known as K. It is capable of ten quadrillion operations in a second and will reduce the composition of all possible haiku to a manageable 2.5 x 10 to the 69th power times the estimated age of the universe.  I found that number starting with 27 possible characters (no capitols or punctuation) for each of 72 positions.  27 to the power of 72.  Divide by the speed of the computer and time.  When I finish this project, I may move on to limericks.

Happy April First!

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