5 may. 2003

I'm listening to some Coolidge recordings that my email correspondent Jess Mynes sent me. He also gave me some Whalen and Berrigan. I can listen to these as "background music," while I do other things, or listen to them straight, paying them my full attention. What is interesting about the first option is that the words still intrude on my consciousness, but more randomly. It is "American Ones."

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I'm tired of being the logopoetic bully.

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Does Occam's razor apply to poetry? It could, in some circumstances. . . I'm not sure in what circumstances. As a professor I often invoke the principle of parsimony when students want to overinterpret. John's reading of the the word "gentian" is perfectly valid. In fact, I have no interest in debating this kind of question at all. What was interesting to me is that, by assuming that I knew what the word meant, I failed to explore it further. John, since he has no idea what the word meant, ended up knowing more about it than I did. Doubt is more powerful than (illusory) knowledge. I was reading some essays by Feynman in the bookstore while Julia looked for her books the other day. It was striking to me that he approached science with an attitude of doubt and uncertainty. Of course, that means that when trying to find out about less measurable questions, not susceptible to scientific measurement, our attitude should be even more skeptical. No academic humanist should be arrogant, much less a social scientist. Freud is not a good scientist because he is too arrogant: he could not possibly know what he claims to have discovered.

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Catherine has sent me her poem based on JM's writing experiments. An odd experience for me, since I haven't thought about them in several years. I hope she posts it on her blog.