August 18, 2004
Sure, I’m not off drinking Grand Text Auto‘s FY 2004 revenues on a cruise ship in the Baltic Sea, but I did get to catch up with Mike Maguire today in Philadelphia and talk about palindromes. Poe, Nabokov, and Cortázar liked ’em. They play an important role in children’s literature. Mike and I pondered whether nontrivial infinite palindromes can exist; perhaps if the sequence is biinfinite and a first and last element are always defined, as in 123123 … 1230321 … 321321? Mike showed me his very impressive palindrome notebook and told me about his tree-search method of composition. I told him some about how William Gillespie and I composed 2002, too, although that process seemed far less interesting and principled. (Well, of course it had the same principle in one sense.) Collaboratively writing palindromes with someone who can cull your sense from nonsense does seem to have the advantage of preventing linguistic insanity, however, an occupational risk among palindrome composers. Mike hardly seems in need of such measures, however, since — in contrast to 2002 — his poems, such as “Same Nice Cinemas,” are among the most lucid texts in the English language.