Friday, 16 March 2012


Maths and numbers are a weakness with me. I can do a household budget, calculate direct debits and save for what I need. Anything beyond that and all I can summon is a look of panic.  I’ve been told its lack of confidence, but it is more like a mental block. I can do the sums but it takes me twice as long as everyone else. I count on my fingers. My times tables have long been forgotten, I’ve avoided maths for as long as I can remember. It’s my shame.

Yet I am drawn to the Fibonacci sequence. This completely baffles me but excites me at the same time. I find it absolutely fascinating that it permeates the very world around us to the core.

For those unfamiliar with the Fibonacci numbers, they are a sequence of numbers. Each number is the sum of the previous two before it. For example;
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144...

And so it goes on. More detailed numbery goodness is here for those who can understand it (not me) here.

With my aversion to numbers I stumbled across the Fibonacci sequence when looking at an art blog and it set me off researching.  The Fibonacci numbers, when made into an image represent the ‘golden rectangle’, or the ‘golden mean’. Each number is represented by a square. Number 1 starts off at one size, next to it would be another square the same size to represent the next number one, then number two would be twice as large, then three would be three times as large and so on until you have a rectangle. When a curved line is drawn from each of the corners of these squares, it creates the Fibonacci spiral which is pictured below.

 If you apply this spiral to some of the world’s most beautiful and famous paintings, they all seem to fit within the format in a certain way. This is seems to link some of the things we find aesthetically pleasing and has also been seen in architecture and design. Naturally I went to fleabay and bought myself a golden mean guage  and have been merrily measuring the things around me with it. I've measured pictures, bottles and all sorts of things with it, and it's actually eerie how many everyday items fit this mean. Numbers permeate art as well as music and rhythm it would seem.

Fibonnacci numbers are also seen in nature, in the centre of sunflowers for example, if you look closely they start from the centre and spiral outwards, the number of seeds increasing creating the curved lines outwards which appear to be spiraling, similar to the image above.

The fact that this sequence could be found in so many different areas of life made me wonder if there could be Fibonacci poetry. As it happens there is, it is called Fib poetry.
A typical fib is six lines and 20 syllables following the sequence 1/1/2/3/5/8.
Not me
I won’t be
Any good at maths
That explains my crap poetry.

Why not try a fib poem then post your work below to share with us, it has to be better than my attempt.



Ste said...

Thanks for the info on this Lindsay. I am actually working on a Fib poem called 'Cease' at the mo. It's a lullaby to human conciousness from the universe - follows on from the 'in honeycomb-sweet buzzing dreams, where something whispers 'Cease'' ending to 'Bin Bag' and will join up the end of 'Bin Bag' to the start of 'Prototypes'. I got the idea from the song 'Lateralus' by Tool,

who also construct the song using the Fib sequence. I started jotting the beginning down this morning and was going to research it later. Thanks for doing the work for me! I won't post here as I've only just begun but the idea is to do what Tool did - go up then down the spiral (or as they put it 'to swing on the spiral of our divinity and still be a human') But how far do I climb before sliding back down the sprial? A 144 syllable line would be a challenge! Great post and once again, thanks for doing my research for me! ;)

Ste said...

Oh and I urge you to watch the link. If you can't stand metal then please skip to 5mins and listen to that section - beautiful and one of my favourite moments in a song ever. I've been listening to this all week because of this week's theme and very nearly did Fib myself and posted his lyrics: they're how I feel about the mindset I work myself into to write - it can be self-destructive and painful but beautiful at the same time. I'll shut up now mmkay?

Ste said...

I was thinking of something like this for the refrain (ideology behind poem is Panentheism by the way) It says 'cease' twice as it is to slow the pace after the fast ending of bin bag so goes summat like this...

I'll find a certain peace, in honeycomb-sweet buzzing dreams, where something whispers

Be Still
Sing Softly
In this void of sleep
Breath deep within my sprial arms

As I said it's meant to be a lullaby to sleeping human conciousness from the universe so the idea is slumber within the spiral arms of the universe (which also follow the fib sequence btw)

Sorry for going mental on your posts - just you hit exactly what I'm working on at the mo!

Lindsay said...

I really like that Ste, and can see how that would work to link the two poems.

I love everything Fibonacci, it seems hard-wired into us and the universe. And seriously, actually I went round measuring thing with my little wooden guage in awe. Mugs, everything. It's in photography, music, architecture, everywhere. I watched the BBC programme The Code even though it made my brain ache lots convinced that there would be fibonacci in there and there it was. In some of the oldest sea creatures on the planet, who's shells look like a fibonacci spiral.

There has to be something which makes us respond to it. It's got me watching maths programmes when I algebra is a swearword in my house. It's embedded in us. I just found this and my chin hit the floor. Scroll down to the bit about human DNA and the Fib. Vicky's right, we like a pattern don't we as humans?

Ste said...

Yeah. Exactly! I mixed up earlier - check this page and look at the Pantheist's logo

I object to the term 'god' being used as I think Pantheism/Panentheism can be synonymous with atheism but still...

Lindsay said...

Wow. That's my evening on the t'interwebs sorted then. That was the creature I mentioned was on The Code, a nautilus shell. Cheers Ste.

Ste said...

Spooooky huh? That's why I got all super-over-excited and went nuts on your comment section! Most of my poems have some aspect of my Pantheism/Panentheism in them - hence why I get annoyed when people say atheists aren't spiritual, are scared of death etc Can't believe you posted on this today when I scribbled the first few lines of Cease on the bus this morning.

PS did you notice 'Cease, Sing Softly, Be Still' is what the War Memorial by North Pier says? Also where I proposed to Sarah :)

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable. I was talking to Lar about this sequence just yesterday!

Perhaps an ancient theory theme could be a something to consider. I dread to think what a resident magician would come up with though!

Great post. Shaun.

Ashley R Lister said...

out all
day today.
Which is why I'm late.
Innovative poetry, guys.

Ash :-)

Anonymous said...



Square that


Add in numbers

This argument is circular.

(Dave R)

Anonymous said...

Yes, that should have been "Add in the numbers."