Renganomics – A Word Game for Geeks

The Spontaneous Order of Words:
Economics experiments in haiku and renga

By Stephen T. Ziliak

Forthcoming International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education Vol. 5 (3) 2014

With haiku by Samuel Stephen Ziliak The Haiku EconomistBarbour and
renga by Cathleen Vasquez, Joseph Molina, Jacob Lundquist, Cameron     Simak and Morgan Higgs

Abstract: The search is on for low cost collaborative learning models that foster creative cooperation and growth through spontaneous competition. I propose that a traditional renga competition for stakes can fulfill several of those goals at once. “Capitalistic Crisis,” composed by five undergraduate students, is an example of what might be called renganomics—a spontaneous, collaboratively written linked haiku about economics, inspired by haiku economics (Ziliak 2011, 2009a) and classical Japanese renga. A renga is in general a spontaneous, collaboratively written linked haiku poem with stanzas and links conventionally arranged in 5-7-5-7-7 syllabic order. In medieval Japan renga gatherings were social, political, and economic exchanges – from small to elaborate parties – with a literary end: a collectively written poem to provoke and entertain the assembled audience about a theme, mood, and season —economic seasons included. Since their ancient and royal beginnings among 8th century Japanese courtiers, renga have been written competitively and by all social classes for stakes. The current group of five student authors competed in a Spring 2014 economics class with forty other students grouped into teams of 3 or 5 at Roosevelt University. The renga competition, judged by Stephen T. Ziliak, lasted forty five minutes for a predetermined cash prize of fifty U.S. dollars. So far as we know this is the first spontaneous renga in English, or any language, to focus on economics. After a brief discussion of renga rules and the renga-haiku relationship, there follows the prize winning “Capitalistic Crisis” by Cathleen Vasquez, Joseph Molina and others, together with “Fashions of Economics: Haiku,” by Samuel Barbour, who was master-in-training at the renga.

Read more at Robin Bates’s Better Living Through Beowulf (“Haikus Make Econ Less Dismal“, May 28th 2014), Mark Thoma’s  Economist’s View  (“Renganomics“), David Ruccio’s AntiCap (“Poem of the Day“, May 14th & 17th, 2014), and Tim Harford aka The Undercover Economist (May 14th, 2014).

Keywords: haiku economics, renganomics, creative cooperation, experiential learning, innovation prizes, Hayek, Bashō.

Spontaneous Order of Words – Haiku and Renganomics Ziliak IJPEE May 2014