Entry 1766 — The New York Review of Books

March 25th, 2015

When I got an offer of four free issues of The New York Review of Books, I accepted it, remembering that it occasionally had good stuff in it in spite of being a standardly totalitarian leftist rag.  It has a particularly interesting review in its 19 March issue by H. Allen Orr of a book on altruism that I want to discuss at length eventually but am too screwed up physically right now to.  (I was deteriorating, by the way, but suddenly seem a bit better for some reason–an  Excedrin besides a hydrocodone?  Or is the prednisone finally kicking in?  Not that I’m not still pretty screwed up, but not agonizingly, the was I was yesterday, and early today.)

Anyway, duty-bound to write something here, I brought up the NYRB because the Orr review had what I think a near-perfect example of the way a great many liberals automatically think.  After quoting something from the book under review, Does Altruism Exist?: Culture, Genes, and the Welfare of Others, by David Sloan Wilson, about “how well,religions, economics and everyday social units, such as city neighborhoods function  to improve the welfare of their members,” Orr writes, “Importantly,in each of these cases, we’re confronted with the potentially conflicting goals of groups (say, to save the planet) and individuals (say, to maximize profits by dumping toxic waste).”

The NYRB has continued sending me issues even after I wrote, “cancel,” on the statement I got after receiving one or two of my freebies.  I figured they might be going to charge me for a year’s subscription even though I’d rejected it.  More likely, they figure the more free issues they send me, the more chance I will break down and become a subscriber–which I’ve now decided to do.



Entry 1765 — Continuing Yesterday’s Blither

March 25th, 2015

First a link on behalf of Jared Schickling, who does good things in and for Otherstream poetry.  It’s to a book Jared has published of Kent Johnson’s work, for those interested, as I fear I’m not: eccolinguistics.blogspot.com.  I wish I did more announcements like this one, but I’m such a lazy lout.

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Before getting back to my discussion of poetry continuums, I thought I would briefly comment on  something I just read and would probably about if I did not at once take care of it.  It’s an article in the latest issue of The National Review.

David Pryce-Jones, its author, is a good writer and I agree with a lot of his political views but in his article, he exemplifies one of the three greatest faults of American conservatives, ignorant philistinism.  (The others are the worship of fetuses, and the like and block-headedness about the environment equal to that of the left, but in reverse.  I leave out starry-eyed love of the state religion, formal education because that’s not specifically a conservative fault.)

The subject of Pryce-Jones’s article is Dadaism, and where his binary feelings about that should be easy to guess.  His take is interesting and I agree with much of it.  I have never been a fan of Dadaism.  But much of what he says is plain wrong.  Beckett’s and Pinter’s work was not “solipsistic,” but comically absurd about the human condition (which Pryce-Jones disparages for not being about.   Finnegan’s Wake is not unreadable, just (for me) more hermetic than it should be.  Joyce was not expressing Dadaistic meaninglessness, but too much meaningfulness at once.  I think two things prevent it from being effective (as opposed, as I always try to say, important, and it may be more important a work of art than any other) an accessible plot (it does seem to have a plot; perhaps I mean narrative disunity) and going for short-term brilliance at the expense of strategic brilliance, and/or the better short-term brilliance that would result if its forests’ including clearings.

One thing I deem a fault of Pryce-Jones’s connects to my problem with the Frost/Horace view of art as instructional.  People supports this philistinism when he says, People read books and go to museums to learn what writers and painters can tell them about some aspect of the human condition.”  All too sadly true, except for the lack of the word “most” before “read.”  It’s a fact that at least a few people—the best people–go to books and visimagery for the beauty of existence they sometimes express and, whether conscious of it or not, for its help in keeping them from suicide, or some equivalent thereof.

Note: “Dadaism” is an example of the kind of coinages that come to label new (or apparently new) kinds of art when left to the artists themselves rather than later taxonomists.  Hence the more accurate term for much of Dadaism,” absurdism,” has permanently been relegated to a back seat to it.  I’m speaking of effective absurdism, or art that is satirical of poor reasoning, not Dadaism at its worst, which is just wholly arbitrary . . . well, rubbish.

There are many important kinds of art that derive from Dadaism, which is definitely of great historical importance.  One is minimalistic art., particularly minimalistic painting.  Another recontextualized art like Duchamp’s urinal, which is not absurdist or primarily a joke regardless of how Duchamp considered it.

(Note: my thinking about Dadaism is impressionistic, and in-progress, as should be obvious, but I guess I have a need to make sure people know that I know at times that however ex cathedra some of my statements surely seem, I do not consider them at such times to be Unarguable Truths.  I suppose I should be so sensitive about that, but . . .)

I can’t think of anything further to say about Dadaism so will return to my thoughts about poetry continuums.  I had just described the instruction/entertainment one.  It’s one of the few I would not favor the poetries occupying its middle in the middle over the ones at the ends.  Whereas I think some poems will have no really aesthetical valuable components, I don’t think it’s possible for a poem not to preach something, however implicitly.

My notes refer to two other continuums, more important than the instruction/entertainment one: the plurexpressive continuum which begins with poems with no averbal components and ends with poems mixing aesthetically consequential words with aesthetically consequential mathematics and cryptography and visual images (beyond their mere visual appearance) and sound images (beyond the sound any word must make when pronounced aloud)—and who knows what else.

The other continuum is the linguistic complexity continuum going from some of William Carlos Williams’s most direct poets up to the weirdest genuine language poems.

And that does it for me today.

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Entry 1764 — Fiddle-Faddle and Blither, Part 1

March 24th, 2015

When I woke up at a little after six and took my second dose of prednisone for my back problem with the other meds I take at that time, I took a hydrocodone–in hopes that it would help with my leg pain, which is still bad enough to make it very painful both the get into bed and out of bed.  Back in bed, I went into one of the flows I often do after taking my opiate, and had enough ideas to blither about here to make a list of them.

I’ve now been out to visit my tennis friends.  Yesterday my pain began lessening, I thought, so hoped I might be able to play this morning although I thought it a long shot.  No way I could.  But I needed bananas, and to banter with my friends, too, so I visited them, insulted their play, then did my marketing.  I had a bit of a nap after getting home, and now am here–with another hydrocodone in me, going for broke in the anti-pain department, and the morphine flow department.

First from thoughts earlier than this morning’s.  It concerns a poem Cummings wrote at the age of 19 that was quoted in Spring, the Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society, number 20, which just arrived yesterday although it’s the 2013 issue.  Mike Webster, the editor, has been valiantly trying to catch up for the past five or more years and is slowly doing it.  Anyway, the Cummings poem is clearly by him, the giveaway being, sadly, its excessive sentimentality—which he got away from in his best later poems.  It is also overly derivative, of poets before Pound and Eliot.  But it has his eye, and “untranslated stars,” which shows up toward the end, and is, in my mind, terrific.  I will only say that “untranslatable stars” would have been interesting but, for me, annoying untrue.

Now to this morning’s thoughts—which, by the way, I considered when having them that they would be material for a blog entry.  That’s no doubt why they began with the medical problems chronicled here yesterday.  Hold that: it’s no doubt why they quickly turned to those problems.  They actually began with a quotation from a letter of Robert Frost’s quoted in an excellent –Oops.

Strange, I was just thinking how I must be pretty free of Alzheimer’s because I seemed to have such a good recall of my thoughts from four hours ago—although, I did write notes about them when finished because of their quantity.  I just remembered, though, that the first of them was a repeat of thoughts I had over a week ago!  And spent a good portion of a blog entry on!  Cheez.

Oh, well, I may have had a few new thoughts about my subject which was basically a condemnation of Horace for wanting poetry to be both instructive and entertaining.  It should only be instructional secondarily, if at all—according to the Poetics of Grumman.  As I don’t think I wrote before, I have never read anything I can remember by Horace, although I must have come across lines or full short poems by him.  This I consider a flaw, a near-serious one, of mine.

It’s only a “near-serious” flaw, however.  That’s because the world has too many people in it, hence every art or verosophy field has too many books anyone serious about that field should have read to be able to have read them all by the time he’s fifty and has too much in his brain to keep stuffing things into it—but will, anyway.  This may not be true of someone serious about only one or two fields: an academic, in other words.  They are prevented from reading all the books they should have in their fields by their innate inability to recognize any book significantly about anything significantly new since what their college years (or, in too many cases, their English professors’ college years) as a book they should read.  It is horribly true of someone serious about as many fields as I, even though most of my seriousness skips most of each field’s details—and most of the other things academics learn, something I by no means consider a virtue of mine, just not a crucial defect.

A new thought, that is, a thought neither from my morning thoughts nor the Frost thought.  A thought my sentence about it at once illustrates: a thought about how often I find some minutely clarifying detail or similar kind of addition (Jesus, my spell-checker just informed me that “addition” was a mistake and gave me the option to change it to “addiction” but not to “Add to Dictionary.”  What is it trying to tell me?  Hmmm, it let my se3cond use of “addition:” pass, then let the first pass, after all.  It’s trying to make you people, who—I’m sure—include government specialists in abnormal psychology, think I’m hallucinating when I accuse them of using my spell-checker against me, not for the first time!!!!

You doubt me.  You wouldn’t if the things they do to me happened to you.  For instance, it is certain to me, and who would be more likely to know, that they have implanted a second brain in me—down around my lower back, which is the real reason for my recent physical ailments.  They switch me into that brain and hold me there as long as they can.  Fortunately, they gave any artificial brains yet capable of keeping me switched for more than a minute or two, but they’re working on it.  This second brain doesn’t show up on any of the x-rays or MRIs of the area it’s in because the government intercepts the data before it is printed and fixes it.  Proof that it exists is the incredible number of typing mistakes I make: I leave off 50% of my required “ed’s” and “s’s” and put in 50% of those when not required, for instance.  Many many more similar problems.

The second brain is also why my political and knowlecular writings are the way they are, too.  One your screens.  They show up the way I wrote them on mine, but they missed an email I got the other day from a friend of mine who thought I was wrong when I described Putin as a mountain goat with two breads who has gone three days without his Cheerios and is very angry, which explains his constant tirades against Marton Koppany.  I quite realize he is too stupid to know anything about Marton.  The tirades I actually wrote about were about ME!

I don’t know why I bother telling you all this consider what the government will do with this entry, but it makes me feel better, and maybe one of the many government agents involved in the campaign to neutralize me will save what I really said to be able later, when I’m dead, to show how clever he and his fellow agents were, and how people like me have no chance against them.  And it isn’t a chance of more than twenty-two thousand to one that someone will much later find what I said among his papers, or those of the few he privately showed them to, who will reveal them to the public—if the world ever recovers from this dark age and The Truth is a legal goal of organizations like the McArthur Foundation.

Right now, I’m listening to SIegfried, which has DOUBLEd my pleasure, in Case tHat is of intErest to anyone.  Not much Chance of that, as RicK, my good friEnD, would agree.  I believe THERE ARE NO others who would.  But ERRORS HERE, I am sure, are possible.

Back, finally to my morning thoughts.  They began, as I said with Frost and Horace.  Quite soon, I felt like revealing that after my “brush with death,” I felt a need to make sure that I got all my thoughts like the one about Frost and Horace recorded somewhere, even I it meant a lot of repetition.  I next felt a need to amplify my observation about my arthritis.  Autobiographical data about my feelings for posterity, you know.  I wanted to make sure my very human response to having been diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 57, which a sample of cells from my prostate made almost certainly valid, and which would almost surely kill be within a few years if left untreated, went into the books on me.  I want people to know I iz a hommin bean regardless of how superior to all other hoomin beans I am.  I wanna be liked, I wanna be liked, I wanna be liked.  Oh, yeah, yes, I wanna be liked.

My response was an perhaps ridiculous increase in my sensitivity to the lethal effects of just about anything that was clearly wrong with me, or even physically different—like a twitch for 40 seconds in a place where I couldn’t remember ever having twitched before.  I wouldn’t think it was a symptom of something unknown that would kill me in a year or less for more than a few minutes, but that would be my first thought.  See, I can be as irrational as anyone.

So my latest self-diagnosis was cancer, probably a return of my prostate cancer.  It last till yesterday when the doctor assured me it was almost certain “just” a nervous system problem due to my arthritic back—because my pain jumped around, which was almost always a symptom of a nerve problem, and the x-rays showed nothing else that it could be.  Although that according to the hand-out I was given when I left, that would have to be confirmed by other doctors, and perhaps other tests.

Throughout my fear that I had something terminally wrong with me, I need to emphasize that I never thought I was being rational.  My objective view was that there were many things that could be wrong with me, and that it probably had to do with my back, which an MRI had shown to have been responsible for serious problems with my legs only a few months ago, and various other tests had shown me free of anything else bad, so I was probably okay, and certainly had insufficient data—and understanding of medicine, to have any rational opinion of my condition.  Still, the main awareness in charge of the situation was not my reducticeptual or scienceptual awareness, although I’m not sure which awareness–or more likely, snarl of awarenesses—was.  Finding out that would be worth doing but right now I feel unable to make any start at it.  Perhaps because the notes I’m turning into this entry have me over-loaded.  Or the combination of them with Crowley-thoughts. . . .

Okay, I’m too the next set of notes, and am unsure what they mean.  They were about a rant about, and serious discussion of, freedom of speech.  What’s unsure to me is the lead-in to it.  The lead-in is from my Frost/Horace.  Prejudices, like mine against poems about virtues, as feelings so not examples of irrationality?  Yes, but there’s more that remains vague to me.

Oh, I meant to say that one of the useful continuums for poetry is the one from pure instruction up (yes, it’s my rendering of the continuum and if I want pure instruction at the left, I have the right to put it there!) to pure entertainment (by which, remember, I don’t mean the morons’ meaning of “entertainment” as something that provides pleasure for the uncultured but not to be taken seriously, but simply, and rigorously, “the goal of all art”).

“Evil you should not be doing/ Because it is a bad thing,” is a terrible poem, but a poem, because lineated, however the halfwits who want to deny anything they don’t think wonderful to be art will wail it’s not poetry but doggerel, which is also is.  (This is not a dogma of mine, but I don’t think it worth supporting with rational arguments one more time.)

My little couplet would be at the left end of my instruction/enter-tainment continuum.




Entry 1763 — I’m Not Terminal

March 23rd, 2015

The good news is that my problem is “just” arthritis; the bad news is I felt worse leaving the hospital–in spite of the three prednisones I was given–than I did going to it–on my bike!  Seems no matter how bad off I am, I can always ride my bike.


Entry 1762 — New Calamity

March 23rd, 2015

I’m off to the hospital.  So I may not be posting here for a while, if ever.  Pain and difficulty walking, but I have no idea what’s wrong.


Best, to all, Bob

Entry 1761 — The Final Final & Other Stuff

March 23rd, 2015

On Sunday, March 22, 2015 12:04 PM, Bob Grumman <bobgrumman@gmail.com> posted this at NowPoetry:

The first took me over a week, the second fifteen minutes, except for a spelling correction two hours later. The first is at http://poeticks.com/2015/03/21/entry-1759, the second one day later. I’m posting them because the first is autobiographical: Peach Island actually exists in Long Island Sound fifty yards or so from the shore of Harbor View where I spent my best years (from age 7 to 12), and my poem about it has zillions of epiphanies!

The rest of the poem and all of the second poem are autobiographical only to the extent of expressing my love of fantasy stories beginning with the Grimm’s tales my mother read to me. I was almost going to call the first poem an homage to JK Rowling but it only connects to the Potter series as fantasy. I think I may try for a specific poem about Harry if my subconsciousness can come up with the necessary ingredients. Confession: while I do regard Rowling’s series highly, I want to make a poem on it mainly as a way of enlarging my audience–maybe even double it to 16.

Feedback, of course, would be appreciated. Feedback, of course, not expected. Except possibly for the Superior Two whose names I will not divulge.

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On Sun, Mar 22, 2015 at 2:22 PM, ‘stephen russell’ via NowPoetry <nowpoetry@googlegroups.com> wrote:

peach island, just offshore —
abondoned house
in the middle of the trees

Bob, I think you can delete a few words … still, fascinating ….

I’ve always thought that your work would appeal to bright pre-adolescents. I remember Bloom, in a snide remark on the Charley Rhodes show, refer to Harry Potter as “trash.” Apparently, because Potter did not measure up to E B White, the book was unworthy of his esteem.

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Very interesting, Stephen–my immediate reaction to your suggestion was, doesn’t he realize I want to indicate the size of the little island? But I thought about it for a while and realized I didn’t have to! In fact, if I don’t, the reader can imagine the island any size he wants to! And the main purpose of the poem is to give the reader something to use his imagination on. So thanks!

As for Bloom, you know my opinion of him. Bloom’s contempt reminds me of Edmund Wilson’s for detective novels. As for me, the only genre novels I don’t like are romance novels, and that’s because I’m one of those horrible XY people. But I consider Rowling much better than White, even though he was an XY, she a double X.

Off to fix my poem, now.


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MARCH 18, 2015 – GEORGETOWN HAS RECEIVED A $4 million gift to permanently endow its Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice as it celebrates its 25th anniversary and prepares for its annual spring symposium – featuring renowned poets, writers, intellectuals and activists – this month.

Aho, an almost perfect counter-post to mine about my new anti-social practice and unmillioned or hundreded poems. (Ain’t it turble way I takes everythin’ personal!)



Entry 1760 — Another New Poem

March 22nd, 2015

Title: Cryptographiku in Praise of the Imagination



Entry 1759 — A Possibly Finished Poem

March 21st, 2015

HomageToGomringer21March2015FinalOoops, the above is not my final version, this is:




Entry 1758 — My New Blogs

March 20th, 2015

Today’s blog entry is at my Knowlecular Psychology Blog.  Make that was at my Knowlecular Psychologt Blog.  As soon as I posted the entry, I realized my new set-up is not likely to work because Pages are not Blogs, they will just go on and on as single pages until, it’s my guess, they reach a limit.  I could set up three new real blogs but they’d be too much trouble to operate.  So, I’m now shutting down my pseudo-blogs, and poeticks.com will go back to the being the dithered mess it’s been for the past several years.  Beginning with what I had in my Knowlecular Psychology Blog for today:

Here beginneth my knowlecular psychology blog.

This has been up for a day or so and has had three visitors!  I wasn’t sure anyone was interested in my totally uncertified theory.  Anyway, I think the three of you, even though you may all just be students of abnormal psychology.  (Actually, I think you’re all academics stealing ideas from me.  No problem.  Although I would like getting credit for them, I’ve gone too long without any recognition for even one of them to be able any longer to care much.)

Entry 1 — Plexed and Unplexed Data

This won’t be much of an entry, just some notes from another bedtime trickle of ideas.  Two nights ago, I think.  It is just a return to the presentation of my theory of accommodance.  I’d been thinking of it as retroceptual data versus perceptual data, or a person’s memory versus the external stimuli he’s encountering.  It’s not an easy dichotomy, though, because it’s really strong memories versus perceptual data and random memories.  So I split the data involved into assimilated versus unassimilated data, or fragmentary versus unified, or unconsolidated versus consolidated.  Later I got more rigorous: there are, I now posit, plexed and unplexed data, or data consolidated into a knowleplex and “free” data, mostly coming in from a person’s external or internal environment but sometimes containing retrocepts (bits of memory) that have not yet been consolidated into a knowleplex.

I had a second thought: that some plexed data could come from the environment.  This would occur when a person encountered a complex of stimuli that quickly activated some knowleplex he had and accompanied it.  Ergo, there were two kinds of plexed data: retroceptual and perceptual; there were two kinds of unplexed data, too: retroceptual and perceptual.   I think of perceptual plexed data as “preplexed,”

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Maybe when I’m not in my null zone, where I am now, I’ll come up with a better idea for improving my blog.



Entry 1757 — My New Blog Set-Up

March 19th, 2015

My new blog’s homepage, which I hope will allow you a choice of four blogs, is here. It is operational, but the three new blogs have nothing in them yet. I consider it an achievement that I even have it to the stage it is now at.

I’d appreciate it if you would click “here” and then go to any of the three new blogs you think you may bisit again when there’s something at them.  That will give me at least a little idea of what kind of nuts come here.  Thanks!

A second entry point can be found in my Pages to the right as “Bob Grumman BLOGS.”

Now to celebrate the first day of my Blog-Quartet, below is my latest visual poem, thought of and rendered in full yesterday.  Not very original, but it won’t be a stand-alone but the dividend of a long division poem now complete but for the rendering.  It uses the notes I had here a few days ago . . . no, almost two weeks ago.