Sunday, November 29, 2009

So long, Marianne

1. Dim-Post channels Marianne Moore (seen above with a cockatoo: I couldn’t find an online version of the photo from the same shoot I have on my wall of her with a zebra) with his post “Real toads in imaginary gardens” which uses a line from the original version of her poem “Poetry”. The later, much much shorter version reads:
I, too, dislike it.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in
it, after all, a place for the genuine.
2. The Sunday Star-Times outs Cactus Kate’s real identity, and no I’m not going to link to it. What a shabby, pointless thing to do. It had nothing to do with the story which was about a harmless bit of fun the Spiky One is having with the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award – just sheer mean-spiritedness. She seems to be OK about it, but I am so not.

3. Home Paddock talks sense about recycling and how it is not always the best option.

4. BK Drinkwater links to this brief account for dummies of Godel’s Theorem which depresses me so much: I realise that I can no longer follow higher maths. I did it only to Stage III so I am no kind of mathematician but I did love it and did understand Godel. At that level maths is like Mozart. And now I can’t do it any more. Sob.

5. Karl du Fresne praises Vincent O’Sullivan and CK Stead, the odd couple of NZ lit., for their comments on the Ihimarea plagiarism, and adds: “Otherwise the literary world observed a deafening silence.” Ahem: Chad Taylor and I have been discussing it on these very premises.

6. Phil Parker likes the new Te Mata savvy.

7. Jonny B has met Sonny Smith, best banjo player in the world.

8. Chris Bell has been reading the new Thomas Pynchon. Lucky him. I will too, one of these days.


bk drinkwater said...

I wouldn't get too upset about not following the Landsburg post.

It was a brave and noble attempt at popularizing a slippery theorem (and hence I linked it), but I don't think it really works. The Gödel theorems leave expositors in a damned if you, damned if you don't position: including technical details scares off readers; eliding over technical details makes the theorem itself obsidian-opaque.

Landsburg proceeds pretty much by analogy, but I don't see how anyone without having the theorem already on the fingertips will quite see the analogy. And the damn thing is so slippery that only fulltime logicians—a strange breed, even by the generous standards of mathematical culture—seem to be able to keep it at the fingertips for any length of time.

If you really want to see a totally sob-inducing exposition, try Googling for Odifreddi's paper Gödel For Children. It reduced me to a gibbering wreck for a week at first; now it's my favourite version. (After reading the Landsburg post, I re-read Odifreddi to remind myself of what's "really" going on.)

Btw, I totally agree on Cactus Kate.

Chad Taylor said...

The KDF (K-Def!) comment about "deafening silence" was really just a call for comments that would keep the story going as news. In a 2008 column he criticised New Zealand authors for "stamping their feet" over the Montana Book Awards and dismissed the debate as nothing more than an "entertaining cat fight". Damned if we do, damned if we don't.

(He has also written that "life is too short to listen to new music." Cue curtain.)

As I posted before, I don't know any authors who think plagiarism is good. As you've noted, Stephen, there have been some very fine-tuned pieces written on this and discussed online, some of them even by users who use their real names. Du Fresne quotes an anonymous blogger in his article: if that's what he considers as a worthy journalistic source, why pine for comment from actual authors?

Stephen Stratford said...

Very kind of you to say so, BK. And I'll definitely have a look at the Odifreddi.

Stephen Stratford said...

Chad, K-Def is brilliant as a rap name for Karl du Fresne. I can just see him on stage in all his bling. The thin white duke of rap, perhaps.