## Sunday, July 25, 2010

### Does Mathematical Poetry Do Math?

The comment Below was originally posted as a comment on Bob Grumman's blog but it did not show up on his comments so I will post it here.
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Does mathematical poetry ‘do’ math?

This is an excerpt from Bob Grumman’s blog where he and Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino are debating mathematical poetry. I have taken a small yet important few lines from the discussion to add my own thoughts. Gregory is green text Bob is Blue and I am white.

Gregory says: And I would offer, for starters:
1) It is a fallacy to think mathematical poetry is “doing math.”
Bob says: What is it doing?
Gregory says: The “sum” of a mathematical poem need not be the same for everyone.
Bob says: As in pure mathematics, it has to have the same value for everyone although it need not be “the same” for everyone. Just as in pure math, two plus two can be eight minus two as well as four.

Here is where I have inserted my responses:
Gregory says: And I would offer, for starters:
1) It is a fallacy to think mathematical poetry is “doing math.”
Bob says: What is it doing?
Kaz says: I feel very strong that Gregory’s viewpoint on this is too narrow. Mathematical poetry does do math the same as any applied mathematical problem does math. It just requires more math operations than pure math problems of the same size.
Gregory says: The “sum” of a mathematical poem need not be the same for everyone.
Kaz says: This is not what I would consider the correct verbiage for Gregory’s expression yet the essence of what he said is very true. Let me refine it a bit: “The answer of a mathematical poem is never the same for any two or more people.” In fact it is never the same for one person. There are different levels of answers for the reader if the mathematical poem is of any poetic value.
Bob says: As in pure mathematics, it has to have the same value for everyone although it need not be “the same” for everyone. Just as in pure math, two plus two can be eight minus two as well as four.

Anonymous said...

a rare event. i will support bob's statement, if i read it to be containing a reference to the archetypal: "has to have the same value for everyone although it need not be “the same” for everyone."

i may be wrong, but he seems to be writing in terms of an archetypal 'same value for everyone' hence his 'need not be "the same" for everyone".

bob does have a tendency by trying to be overly clear (sometimes clever) to obfuscate.

karl kempton

Kaz Maslanka said...

Hi Karl,
This archetypical quest should be the quest of all art however, we are not talking about quest; we are talking about the mechanics of mathematical poetry.

Thanks,
Kaz

JoAnne said...

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."
Through the Looking Glass.

Kaz Maslanka said...

Humpty obviously does not understand poetics.

Kaz Maslanka said...

In all seriousness, I hope this makes sense to those who question whether mathematical poetry 'does math'.

K