Scientific American Blog Relocated

April 20th, 2014

My Scientific American Blog is now here–with a complete table of contents.

AHOY!  I finally got Entry 18 done.  It is now here.    Comments Welcome! Please let me know of any typos or gross factual errors. Warning: it’s me at my abstrusest worst–for over 8,000 words.

Later note: From time to time, I will be revising Entry 18.  I hope eventually to correct all the many mistakes in the version first posted.

Scientific American Blog Relocated

April 19th, 2014

My Scientific American Blog is now here–with a complete table of contents.  (Apologies for spam ad which I can’t do anything about: removing it just causes a different word to become the spam ad.  Ignore it.)

AHOY!  I finally got Entry 18 done.  It is now here.    Comments Welcome! Please let me know of any typos or gross factual errors. Warning: it’s me at my abstrusest worst–for over 8,000 words.

Later note: From time to time, I will be revising Entry 18.  I hope eventually to correct all the many mistakes in the version first posted.

Entry 1427 — More On Philistines

April 18th, 2014

“Writing is not an exercise in excision, it’s a journey into sound.  How about ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’?  One tomorrow would suffices, but it’s the other two that have the thing immortal.”– so said E.B.White, a Philistine, but among the very best of them (and many are superior, even sometimes major, writers, albeit not White was only a good minor one), as quoted by David Yezzi, the subminor Philistine poet/critic who edits the (excellent) Philistine culture magazine, The New Criterion–which is excellent because Philistines aren’t incapable of appreciating superior art, just incapable of appreciating living superior art.   Yezzi is using White’s words to support his belief in a standard Philistine belief about poetry, to wit: that its central attribute is sound.

To each his own about what a poem’s most important constituent is, but to me sound—as sound—is only decorative, although as accompaniment, it can do wonderful things.  And it can rise above decorativeness as in onomatopoeia, but it has to become conceptual to do that—that is, “murmuring” suggests the sounds of Longfellow’s hemlocks (if I have the right poet) only if what “hemlocks” are is known (as it can only be if the word adds denotation to its accomp-lishments—as an occupant of a poem’s expressiplex instead of only its prelimiplex).1

White is wrong: Shakespeare’s repetition of “tomorrow” is poetically brilliant not for its sound but for its denotation (albeit helped by its sound, “tomorrow” being by chance nicely semi-onomatopoetic for its context—as a thickly-moving set of syllables).  It conceptually acts as a juxtaphor (implicit metaphor) for existence as a series of horribly monotonous, emptyinesses.  We need its sound to find its semantic meaning; we need its semantic meaning, which is asensual, to find its metaphorical meaning, which produces its final poetic effect as an image one experiences sensually, emotionally and philosophically as existence’s deadeningly repetitious ongoingness—with its sound emphasizing it but its semantic meaning producing it.

Then there is performed sound—what someone presenting the poem orally can add to it.  The additions, though, depend again on what the sounds denote, so bring us back to the unarguable fact that what is most important in a poem is what it is conceptually, not its music.

That Philistines like Yezzi rate poetry’s sound higher than I do doesn’t bother me; what bothers me is that their esteem for it prevents them from appreciating any poetry in which sound is clearly of little importance—like free verse, but—much more important—language poetry and plurexpressive poetry like visual poetry.  Indeed, it makes many of them reject such art as poetry.  I feel they need to rethink  as a symbolic art rather than an auditory art.  That way they’ll be able much more to find their way into metaphoricality, and from that into how the nonverbal poetic devices of language poetry and plurex-pressive poetry attain that in ways sounds never can.  Or go from primitive (but valuable) appreciation of poetry to higher appreciations.

No chance.  You need the right genes to do that.  Those that have them have to find poetry that is more than musical texts, those that don’t have to avoid it, and find ways to keep it out of the mainstream.  But they’ve let free verse in, so eventually they will be helpless to keep the mainstream continuum from being the complete continuum of poetry.  Maybe even less than fifty years from now.

1 See Entry 18 of my math poetry blog.  The link to it is near the top of my “Pages.”

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Entry 1426 — An Important Date in My Life?

April 17th, 2014

Yesterday I finished the last of the eleven 250-word reviews I had to do.  I had already done my next two columns for SPR.  Two other things I had deadlines for I had finished more than a month ago.  Ergo, I can now spend the summer working on anything I want to.  It’s the first time I’ve felt so free in two years or more.  There was always the Scientific American blog, and I seemed to be making commitments I shouldn’t have.

I have to methodically choose my next project.  I think it should be a Major Statement on Cerebreffectiveness.  I’ll call it something like “Notes on Full Intelligence As Opposed to IQ Intelligence.”  Make that “Genuine Intelligence Versus IQ Intelligence.”  Snappy, hey?  I really want to write it, intelligence having been a central interest of mine ever since I was told as a boy that I had it.  I’m sure I have important things to say about it.  Re-say about it–at greater length.  Bringing in others who have written on the subject like that oaf Charles Murray.  I call him an oaf because I wrote him and never got a reply.  If he were not an oaf, he would have recognized me from my letter as someone he ought to be in touch with if he has a serious interest in a topic he has a book out about.

In any case, while I definitely want to write it because I want to write it, I also think it may be commercial, either as a book, if my thoughts are book-length, or as an essay that some visible publication of some sort would publish and either pay for or certify me sufficiently to give me a chance at remunerative publication elsewhere.  I always have this fantasy.  One of my ideas for a book is a list of all the failed money-making ideas I’ve had in my life, with commentary.

Gotta go now.  I’m into what I hope is tomorrow’s blog entry.  It’s another discussion of Philistines.

Note: whenever I feel I’ve reach some pivotal point in my life, I check my horoscope.  As I’ve said before, I absolutely do not believe in any superstitions, but I’m superstitious.  It’s like this, I know there’s no such thing as a lucky charm or lucky day, BUT . . . at certain times, I try to locate one in my life, most often by playing Yahtzee with the understanding that if I win it, my day will be lucky.  Of course, winning, which I sometimes do–I figure I have about a one in twenty chance at 300 points, which is my definition of winning (usually)–never has any effect on my day BUT . . . it makes me feel lucky for a little while!  (Note: if I ever get 500 or more points in a Yahtzee game, it means I’ll get a billion dollars in the mail or something else comparable will happen to me.  I once came within a yahtzee of doing that.)

Simple explanation: my rational self is in charge but lets my simpleton self feel good once in a while.  I would never invest my house in some get-rich-quick scheme because every planet in my horoscope is trine or sextile to my natal sun, for instance–but I might dare to send a submission to Prentice-Hall because of that.   Trines, sextiles and conjunctions are favorable aspects (although astrologers can interpret anything to be favorable–like an opposition, the worst aspect, as a wonderful challenge).

Today, in case you’re wondering what my chart says, I have transitting Mars (Mars where it is today) trine to my natal sun (my sun where it was the day I was born), the transitting sun sextile to my natal sun, and my ruling planet, Uranus, almost exactly conjunct to the transitting sun.  But transitting Mars is opposed to the transitting sun and Mars.  That explains why my tennis game was so bad this morning I quite after only two sets.

The other planets are in neither good nor bad aspects with my natal sun, so it is an astrologically good day for me!  And my luck should hold for a week.   Nothing to show for it yet but this entry, and its past four o’clock, but–hey–this is a great entry!  And someone will send Charles Murray to it, whereupon he’ll recognize me as worth contacting, and co-author a book on intelligence with me, that will finally take care of my debts, and make me financially independent for the rest of my life.

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Entry 1425 — 2 Long Division Problems

April 16th, 2014

I was going to send a list to an art show in Minneapolis containing mathepoetic long division problems like the two below.  I couldn’t come up with enough good ones, and my list wasn’t appropriate for the show, so I sent a list of quotidian shopping list on top of notes for the list of long division problems.  Here are two of said problems:

CriesOfSeagullsIntoChildhood

CoalMineIntoWoman

I was intrigued by the way part of the lines of the letters I used as guide for my thicker-lined spelling of “coal mine” showed through.  I’d been deleting them but decided to leave them in, then wrote the crude version of “woman” on top of the violet version.  It makes some kind of emotional sense to me, but I haven’t figured out what.

The problems are just multiplication problems really: what times distant cries of seagulls equals childhood (fading) and what times a coal mine will equal woman, but making them long divisions suggests the answer will have a remainder.  Anyway, the idea is to get an engagent using his imagination.  Simpler ones would be good exercises for children.  For boy, what’s 100 zombies into interesting Sunday afternoon at the beach, maybe.

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Entry 1424 — A Rough Draft

April 15th, 2014

I slopped the following together on 9 April.  It’s here today because I have nothing else to post.  (Later note: don’t take it too seriously–it’s basically just my way of letting off steam as a helpless pawn of politicians, CEOs and the mindless masses, and get back to important matters once again under the radar.  It’s also just a sort of digest for a book, so leaves out a great deal.)

A Suggestion for a Socio-Poli-Economic Experiment No US Government Would Ever Dare To Try

When my friend Richard Kostelanetz was asked on a questionnaire what historical figure he most disliked recently, and said, “I despise Abe Lincoln, who should have dumped the Confederate states, whose leaders were independentistas wanting to secede.  Instead, Lincoln initiated a war that took many lives and, with “victory,” burdened the North with backward provincials to this day,” I–who prefer backward provincials to collectivist womb-bunnies and their totalitarian masters–agreed that Lincoln should have let the country come apart but contended that the main beneficiary would have been the South, which may well have become the one nation in the world to attain genuine individual freedom (short of the impossible freedom desired by the most fanatical libertarians).

The question of what really would have happened is a fascinating one that I lack the historical background to be very intelligent about.  However, thinking about it inspired the following idea: have the country do what is required to make Texas and Massachusetts Free States, defining the latter as legislatively wholly free of the federal government (and any “higher” government if the progressives finally turn the U.S. completely over to the UN) except when the federal government goes to war, in which case they must go along with it in the same manner as the other 48 states, so long as Texas agrees to adopt what I call a “maxirational free economy,” and Massachusetts agrees to adopt the kind of state-run economy progressives dream of.

Here’s how it would work for Texas: its government would begin as it now  is as far as carrying out its normal legislative duties is concerned, but could redesign itself in accordance with the constitution it later has, which would be as it now is, with a few amendments, primarily the following one: “Every  citizen of Texas will be given full ownership of all his private property, by which is meant every material thing he legally owns and his own body; no person or government will be allowed to interfere with his right to use or sell his private property in any way whatsoever so long as his use of it (1) has no significant, direct, materially-harmful effect on anyone else’s private property without that person’s permission or (2) seriously threatens to have such an effect.”

As I see it, the amendment described would make commercial freedom in Texas near-total.  But the government could still step in to prevent a company, or an individual, from doing anything having a significant, direct, materially-harmful effect on some other innocent person without his permission, such as seriously polluting a river (according to a board chosen by the Texas government that I hope would consist of experts intelligently chosen, perhaps half by the voters, half by politicians who would have to defend their choices)–on the grounds that would have a significant, direct materially-harmful effect on people downstream.

And unions would be allowed that could negotiate with business-owners–who could reject their demands (and fire the workers in them) if they wanted to, just as the unions could reject a contract the business-owners offered (and strike): i.e., it would be a business selling labor trying to work out an agreement with a business wanting to purchase labor, that’s all.  The government would step aside, unless one side or the other became criminally-violent.  Workers would always have the option of leaving Texas.

All labor-management agreements in effect before Texas becomes a free state would be void, by the way.  (I would hope the fair ones would be quickly renewed.)  Since employers could fire an employee as easily as employees can now quit, contracts between a hiree and a company would become near-universal (although many would be understood rather than written).  The contract disputes sure to come up would be handled by the courts the state provides.

It would be one of the courts’ duties to protect private property rights, which would mean determining if a person wanting protection merits it–is innocent, that is.  In most cases, that should not be difficult for even a liberal to figure that out: for instance, no one should worry about the property rights of a person waving a gun in a bank teller’s face and asking for money.

Hmmm, I just realized that even Texans would not accept the amount of freedom I was thinking of when I began this essay.  For instance, I  wanted them to abolish compulsory formal education.  I wanted all public schools to be privatized or converted to motels or something.  Parents would still be in charge of their kids until the kids turned eighteen, but could keep them out of school if they wanted to, or home-school them, or pay a private school to educate them.  Perhaps Texas would agree to the privatization of all schools, but I guess I’d have to let them force formal education on their children.  BUT, by gosh, any business could hire anyone, degree or not, license or not for any job whatsoever.

Well, let Texas decide how much licensing was necessary.  They’d probably be horrified by the idea of unlicensed doctors, for instance.  I’m fine with medical licenses and would forbid any doctor to claim he had one when he didn’t, but would leave it up to each individual whether he wanted his doctor to have one or not.  But I understand that it’s best to go for economic freedom now, and leave lesser unfreedoms in place until economic freedom becomes reflexive.  (Question I’m to ignorant to know the answer to and too lazy to research: was Athens economically free?  For citizens?  I’m sure they had craft unions backed by the government.)

I think in most cases private inspection companies could sell inspection and the equivalent of good housekeeping seals to any merchant who wanted his product certified, and people could use their own judgement as to the value of the licenses. The near-free state of Texas I’m now talking about would have to have a bill or rights like the U.S.’s if it doesn’t already–but with one addition: “All the articles of this document will be taken to mean what they say: for instance, by ‘freedom of speech’ will be taken to mean the freedom to say anything whatever, libelous or seditious or blasphemous, but not to dance naked in a barroom, dancing not being speech.”  I would hope for a better article than the first amendment: one that said, “No  law shall be passed by any governing body prohibiting any form of private self-expression whatever.”

I would require quite a bit more of the Texas Semi-Free State.  It would have to get out of the welfare business, since that requires taxation, which would be banned as an infringement on property rights, a person’s money being part of his private property–and Texas would not be allowed to infringe on any American’s property rights, as it would by accepting social security payments and the like from Washington.

However, Washington would be required to return all funds a given Texan paid to the government for social security minus any funds returned by the government plus the earnings at 5% interest those funds would have earned the individual had he put them into a savings account. Private charities would of course be free to step in to help any who needed it (and, I feel confident, would).  Otherwise, each individual would have to take care of himself.

Many Texans would not like this, so they would be free to leave Texas.  Texas and the federal government could set up some agency that would facilitate this by–for one thing–finding jobs comparable to jobs left for them.  There should be many jobs available formerly belonging to the many people who would move to Texas.  Exchanges of the houses of emigrating Texans for the houses of immigrating non-Texans could be facilitated.  In some cases Texas might be required to buy the house of someone leaving–at a fair price, with any amount of money it can later sell it for over what it paid for it, minus a fair seller’s fee, going to the former owner.  I would hope most people leaving the state would feel they’ve been properly treated.

I have the impression my description of the Near-Free State of Texas is extremely incomplete but can’t think of anything to add right now, so will take up Massachusetts.  It would be the collectivist opposite of Texas.  The federal government would purchase all the private businesses in the state, including the colleges, or pay them the expenses they incur in relocating outside the state (as I now see they should do for businesses moving out of Texas to retain government subsidies), and turn them over to Elizabeth Warren, who would become the State-Czar.  A state income tax would be instituted that prevented anyone from earning more than $50,000 a year, after taxes, and the state would be required to pay everyone not working $25,000 a year.   The federal government would provide any extra funds needed.

The state constitution would remain in effect, but Warren’s interpretation of it would be automatically accepted.  The U.S. Constitution could be dismissed if its provisions contradicted the state constitution’s, as interpreted by Warren.  Similarly, I realize now that I forgot to mention, the Texas constitution would prevail wherever its provision clashed with the provisions of the U.S. Constitution–the words of that document, not what the halfwits interpreting them have tortured them to mean, that is.

Probably both states would need a year or so of being half a normal state and half independent.  I would want the experiment to last at least twenty years, that much time being required to evaluate many aspects of it–for example, to compare the cultural achievements of the 25-year-olds of the two states–privately-educated versus (mostly) publically-educated, and, of course, per capita income, per capita achievements, etc.

The effect of the experiment on the rest of the nation after twenty years would be very interesting to find out.  Would it finally dawn on our rulers that progress is much more likely to occur when two or more ways of doing things are allowed than when a central government dictates what it thinks is the one right way.

Final word: there’s no possibility in this unfree country that the experiment I propose, much more fully developed than I’ve described it here, would ever be carried out.   I hope it’s proves worth at least thinking a little about, and maybe even tried, eventually, on two virtual-reality states in a super-computer of the future.

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Entry 1423 — Another Pair of Poem Poems

April 14th, 2014
           A Quanthrille of Grrr-rille

          The rainlofty girl over-churched
          the remnants of Poem’s was,    
                  assisted by no mean mell of adjections.           
       The first ocean, though, nev
                      er budged, even on top.      

         Five chapelworths of splandered leaves sang 
           into the visible thoughts of Shelley
           while Wordsworth wildered into a
         blaze of Hopkins,                                       
                    a .   .  . glint of crow,
      in full arrest, 
          pompered into the diminishing Weste, cloudlush and serong.      

          Four rains a meadow beyond                  
                mathematics devised a fifth season for the
          .           blaze of                                     
                              Hopkins.     Word
   Sworth, mean while, was li  q 
          uifying at the foot of 

                               .eternity

         Poem’s Internet Search

         One day on a whim, Poem
         did an Internet search on himself.  He
         soon found himself reading about himself 
         in a poem at poeticks.com that   
         he couldn’t understand.  
         He was said to be “unsyllabled” into something a brook was
         doing.  He      
         vaguely remembered the brook, but 
         little else about the occasion.  

         In a poem in the same entry, 
         he was described as flickering.  
         So that was what that was, he thought.

         Disappointed, he checked other entries 
         at poeticks.com about him.  
         In the most recent he read about himself reading about himself!
         But then when the poem about him reading about himself 
         began to describe him reading about himself 
         reading about himself, 
         he angrily turned his computer off.  

         What a moron his author was.

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Entry 1422 — Just Two More Poem Poems

April 13th, 2014

I mistakenly thought I’d written this entry yesterday.  After a long day, I’m too dead in the head to put anything here but two of m last four Poem poems:

          A Quaverful of Deedle

          Although he knew he wasn’t 
          responsible for the summer’s cymbular round                  
          decline to words, Poem flickered ever-      
          inxiously prior.   

          The pure blue churches paying his rent    
          reasingly beyond the sky,                                                
                  failed to comfort him.            
      And all the sciences myraculously      
                shimmyred more than blue in the zeal     
          of their covenant with the clouds.                

          The rain laughed, but did not fall.     
          The ocean revised the prayer it had           
             formed a small wharf of just to the left        
                  of Poem.

          A Quadrille of Deedle               

          The rain lift, but over-churched                          
          somewhere by a glymmyr of the    
                first ocean’s philosophy,   
                          Poem fell 
                    lighk a thousand 
            leaves spandered into the West.          

          A prayer away, a cloud rose just behind the distant     
          wharf and remained in place.    
          The prayer left it alone. A girl in pale blue loy                                       
              tered on it.      Soon                                             .                  
          Wordsworth and          Shelley            
             joined her.  The                                                            

          Rain began again. Heavily.  The     
          girl dissolved; the poets remained where they           .                   

             were,                              

                 silent.

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Entry 1421 — The Two Kinds of Philistinism

April 12th, 2014

Discourse on Philistinism

Of late, thanks to the latest issue of The New Criterion, I’ve been thinking a lot, again, about the poor reception the genuinely new in the arts gets.  Why most people shun the genuinely new in the arts is easy enough to explain: it takes time for all but specialists to assimilate a significantly unfamiliar kind of art.  Most people simply lack the time (and motivation) to do so.  But they will rarely become excessively opposed to the new the way those I think of as full-fledged Philistines do.  They may go along with forcefully expressed antogonism toward some new art by such a Philistine, but they may also develop a liking for some new art due to its forceful defence by a . . . I perceive here a lexicuum, or gap in the language a word for one with a superior capacity to appreciate art that is significantly both new and good.

“Connoisseur,” I fear, won’t do, since too firmly associated with those excessively in love with the work of dead artists (and dead wine-makers).

NovappreciatorNAH vuh PREE shee AY torr.  There’s a word most people won’t like much, but only a true Philistine will want to have me shot for coming up with it, or will want someone coming up with a better term fifty years from when it has become established.

Getting back to where I was, most people will have a mixture of attitudes toward art, but excessive in very few of their likes and dislikes.  They will always lean toward what they’re most exposed to, which will almost always be almost entirely (1) art of the past that has long been certified by the academy; and (2) fashionable accessible art of the present–accessible because copying other fashionable accessible art, with the most-liked ever so-slightly different from it.

Philistines, or those constitutionally incapable of genuine appreciation of any art, are a different story.

As a firm believer in my own theory of character-types, I long ago described one major form of philistinism as the result of rigidnikry, which is an innate type of character.  According to my theory, a person born with it (a rigidnik) is too inflexible to take in enough of any art he has been brought up to appreciate to broaden his aesthetic taste, or even merely not despise just about any art he is unfamiliar with if it becomes prevalent enough for him to notice.  The art he has been exposed to long enough he will be able to appreciate well enough, but never deeply.  To put it simply.

But there are complications with all this, the three main ones being:

(1) Some rigidniks hate traditional art; indeed, some lovers of otherstream art, my blanket-name for art Philistines should, according to my theory, be incapable of appreciating, are among the most fanatic champions of certain highly unconventional art, some of them even making it themselves!

(2) Some milyoopians, who according to my theory are so ridiculously loose-brained they are unable to build loyalty to any variety of art, traditional or the opposite, may be as attached to some variety of what I call knownstream art and are repelled by some or all forms of otherstream art as much as rigidnikal Philistines are, and in the same manner.

(Note: my theory posits three kinds of character-types, the rigidnik, the milyoop (who is excessively under the influence of his “milyoo”)and the free-wender–in fairly close parallel to David Reisman’s inner-directed, other-directed and autonomous character-types.  Of course, just about everyone is a mixture of the three, but with one dominant enough to put him into one classification.)

(3) Some people neither rigidnikal nor miloopianic are nonetheless quite Philistine.

To solve (2), I came up with the “pseudo-rigidnik,” defining such a person as a milyoopian (“yoop,” for short) mentally enslaved to some rigidnikal Philistine due to his extreme suggestibleness (or other-directedness) and thus mimicks the latter’s Philistinism.

Thinking further about it, I realized that certain moderately milyoopian yoops could well become natural Philistines if protected from the poetry otherstream by parents and teachers long enough.  Their appreciation of conventional poetry would not be strong but it would be constantly strengthened by rigidniks and others like them.  They would not really appreciate much art, but enjoy conforming to the fashion of the times.

Moreover, they would inevitably encounter otherstream poetry and, lacking the means to assimilate it, or even to study it from afar (as a free-wender would), would run from it.  As a result, it would be given a tag of “bad,” any stimulus causing cerebral pain automatically gets, to encourage avoidance of it in the future.  Their innate cerebral energy level would be too low for them readily to overcome the tag–unless someone else forced them to, by repeatedly exposing them to the tagged stimulus and using various tactics to get them to–like telling them everyone likes the tagged stimulus, or they’ll be beaten if they don’t memorize it and the reasons given for its value.

The only significant different between the rigidnikal Philistine and a pseudo-rigidnikal one is that otherstream poetry will bounce off the former without his being more than slightly annoyed by if, if he even notices it, while otherstream poetry will feel threatening to the latter since it could easily take hold of him, given sufficient time.  The rigidnik is pretty much invulnerable to it.

 TO BE CONTINUED

 

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Entry 1420 — Another Coinage

April 11th, 2014

My latest coinage is a doozy: “ascendaesthcy”–uh SEHND ehsth see.  That, I ordain, is the ultimate goal of a poem.  The poem can achieve it any way its creator chooses, except that a semantically meaningful, sufficiently flow-broken text must be central to the enterprise.  The haiku moment is the best example of an ascendaesthcy.  The term occurred to me while considering an opinion discussed in the latest issue of The New Criterion that melopoeia is the most important component of poetry.  I, as a visual poet, could not possible concur.  I happen to believe that metaphorical thinking can do more in a poem than anything else, but consider that just my subjective opinion.  All that really counts is whatever can get a poem’s engagent to ascendaesthcy.

I define that as a moment of enchantment due to an image of beauty and/or a feeling of triumph or kincognition (all of which I’ve defined elsewhere).

Okay, maybe I need a better word.  “Ascendaesthcy” is just the first one I came up with that worked at all.  It’s less than an hour old.

LATER NOTE: three or four hours after writing the above, I re-coined  “aescendaesthcy” as simply “aesthendancy.”  Why didn’t I immediately think of that?
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