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Posts Tagged ‘Gertrude Stein

“The commonplace is miraculous if rightly seen”*…

… and used. Consider, for example, this affecting example of literary collage from Jez Burrows

The valley was enclosed by rugged peaks, security fencing and annihilative firepower—a state secret. Nothing for miles around. They sat opposite one another they sat in the shade of a tree.

“Repeat the words after me: A fish is an animal.”

“A fish is an animal.”

“A cow is an animal.”

“A cow is an animal.”

“We go to the zoo to see the animals.”

“We go to the zoo to see the animals.” She nodded in affirmation.

“Very good.”

“Very good.” She looked up with an absent smile and burst out laughing. Its mouth snapped into a tight, straight line and there was a fraught silence. Her body tensed up.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to insult you!” She leaned forward to take its hand and a cross-current of electricity seemed to flow between them. She felt guilty now, and a little uneasy. She looked at it warily, this naive, simple creature, with its straightforward and friendly eyes so eager to believe appearances—a shimmering evanescent bubble of cycloid scales and yellow fur agleam in the sun. Circuitry that Karen could not begin to comprehend. Since Parker’s research did not pan out too well, now she was the linchpin of the experiment. Her voice wobbled dangerously, but she brought it under control.

“I’m really sorry if I hurt your feelings.”

To her astonishment, it smiled and emitted a sound like laughter. She felt an inward sense of relief.

“I want an apple.”

“When you ask for something you should say, ‘Please.’”

“Please give me an apple.” It rolled the word around its mouth. She smiled distantly.

“I’ll think about it, amigo.”

Collins COBUILD Primary Learner’s Dictionary
Collins English Dictionary
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary
My First Dictionary
New Oxford American Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

More very short stories composed of example sentences from dictionaries: “Dictionary Stories” from @jezburrows.

Apposite: Austin Kleon‘s newspaper blackout poetry. For example…

(Image at top: source)

* Charles Simic

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As we juxtapose, we might send carefully constructed birthday greetings to Gertrude Stein; she was born on this date in 1874. An American ex-pat in Paris, Stein was an author, poet, and memoirist (The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas). But she is probably best remembered as the host of a Paris salon where the leading figures of modernism in literature and art– including Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson, and Henri Matisse– regularly met.

Hemingway described her role as both a host and a mentor to a generation of artists in in A Moveable Feast. The Mother of Us All was the title of a Virgil Thomson opera for which Stein wrote the libretto.  While the subject of the opera, Susan B. Anthony, certainly deserves the epithet, so, many have observed, did its author.

Stein in 1935 (photograph by Carl Van Vechten) source

Written by (Roughly) Daily

February 3, 2023 at 1:00 am

“I would say lenguage is that we may mis-unda-stend each udda”*…

Long-time readers will know that your correspondent adores George Herriman’s Krazy Kat (c.f., e.g., this post: the remarkable Chris Ware on the modern relevance of the seminal strip). Today, Amber Medland on Krazy Kat‘s huge resonance with Modernists throughout its run…

The Kat had a cult following among the modernists. For Joyce, Fitzgerald, Stein, and Picasso, all of whose work fed on playful energies similar to those unleashed in the strip, he had a double appeal, in being commercially nonviable and carrying the reek of authenticity in seeming to belong to mass culture. By the thirties, strips like Blondie were appearing daily in roughly a thousand newspapers; Krazy appeared in only thirty-five. The Kat was one of those niche-but-not-really phenomena, a darling of critics and artists alike, even after it stopped appearing in newspapers. Since then: Umberto Eco called Herriman’s work “raw poetry”; Kerouac claimed the Kat as “the immediate progenitor” of the beats; Stan Lee (Spider-Man) went with “genius”; Herriman was revered by Charles Schulz and Theodor Geisel alike. But Krazy Kat was never popular. The strip began as a sideline for Herriman, who had been making a name for himself as a cartoonist since 1902. It ran in “the waste space,” literally underfoot the characters of his more conventional 1910 comic strip The Dingbat Family, published in William Randolph Hearst’s New York Evening Journal. Hearst gave Herriman a rare lifetime contract and, with his backing, by 1913 the liminal kreatures had their own strip. Most people disliked not being able to understand it. Soon advertisers worried that formerly loyal readers would skip the strips and miss the ads. Editors were infuriated by devices like Herriman’s “intermission” panel, which disrupted the narrative by stalling the action…

For [E.E.] Cummings, who, with his flagrant anti-intellectual stance, privileged what he called “Aliveness” above all else, Charlie Chaplin was the only artist to rival Herriman. But technology disrupted both Chaplin’s and Herriman’s idiosyncratic work. At the introduction of sound in film in 1927, Chaplin said that the “spontaneity of the gags had been lost,” but what he really lost was his control of time. Sound erases distance; there was no longer a delay in which the incongruity between seeing and comprehending could bloom. In his essay “What People Laugh At” (1918), Chaplin noted “the liking of the average person for contrast and surprise in his entertainment.” Both Herriman and Chaplin orchestrated meticulously timed, silent dialogues between images and words. Slapstick—a word that originally referred to two pieces of wood joined together, used by pantomime clowns to make loud noises—is, in their work, a deliberately clumsy cleaving of the relationship between words and images. If people could explain themselves, there would be no time to revel in ludicrous situations, as when in The Kid, Chaplin, caressing the hand of a policeman’s wife, is accidentally caressed by her husband…

The unsung Modernist: “E. E. Cummings and Krazy Kat,” from @ambermedland in @parisreview.

Enjoy Krazy Kat strips here.

* Krazy, to Ignatz (Herriman one-upping Wittgenstein…)

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As we praise percipience, we might recall that it was on this date in 1948, in the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Haredevil Hare,” that Marvin the Martian made his debut.

“Haredevil Hare”: Bugs Bunny, disguised as a Martian, hands Marvin the Uranium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator. (Animation by Ken Harris.)

source

“I have had UFO experiences, and yet, at the same time, I can easily be convinced that none of it is true”*…

 

In 1995, as part of the Walt Disney Company Presents series (that was hosted by Michael Eisner, doing his not-very-successful best to channel Walt), Disney aired “Alien Encounters.”  A documentary that opens with footage of “an actual spacecraft from another world, piloted by alien intelligence,” and the pronouncement that “intelligent life from distant galaxies is now attempting to make open contact with the human race,” it only aired once.

* Frank Black (AKA Black Francis, of the Pixies)

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As we look to the skies, we might spare a thought for Gertrude Stein; she died on this date in 1946.  An American ex-pat, Stein was an author, poet, and memoirist (The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas).  But she was probably most impactful and is best remembered as a hostess and mentor to a generation of writers (e.g., Hemingway,described her salon in A Moveable Feast) and artists (e.g., Picasso) in Paris, where– “the mother of us all”**– she held court for forty years.

Carl Van Vechten’s 1935 portrait of Stein

source

** The Mother of Us All was the title of a Virgil Thomson opera for which Stein wrote the libretto.  And while the subject of the opera, Susan B. Anthony, certainly deserves the epithet, so, many have observed, did its author.

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 27, 2014 at 1:01 am

Elegant Endings (and Blissful Beginnings)…

 

source

Best reason to go adventuring in Wonderland:

Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood; and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago; and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.

– the last line of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

19 other conclusive gems at Flavorwire’s “Famous Last Words: Our 20 Favorite Final Lines in Literature.”

And for a complementary collection of such wonders as…

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

—the opening line of Gabriel García Márquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)

…visit the American Book Review’s “100 Best First Lines from Novels.”

 

As we reach for our library cards, we might recall that it was on this date in 1910 that Alice B. Toklas moved in permanently with Gertrude Stein.  The two women turned their Paris home (22 rue de Fleurus) into an artistic and literary salon, where they hosted Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and many others– several of whom appear, with Ms. Stein herself, in the lists above.

Cecil Beaton’s photo of Stein and Toklas at home (source)

 

Salting it away…

Medical authorities recommend that adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day–  about 1,000 mg less than the average American actually ingests– lest one suffer high blood pressure, stroke, osteoporosis, and/or exercise-induced asthma.

From the folks at Rodale and Men’s Health, a cautionary guide to restaurant entrees across our heavily-salted nation: “30 Saltiest Foods in America.”  Number 1?  An offering that’s no slouch when it comes to calories and fat content, but that is an undisputed champion in the sodium sweepstakes:

P.F. Chang’s Wok Charred Beef
10,045 milligrams sodium
850 calories
30 g fat (15 g saturated)

Sodium Equivalent = 31 Slabs of Hormel Canadian Style Bacon
Here are a few things with less salt than this sodium-sunk beef blowout: 244 Saltine crackers, 40 bags of Funyuns, 175 cups of Newman’s Butter popcorn, and 28 orders of McDonald’s large French fries.

As we aspire to life above the salt, we might recall that it was on this date in 1910 that Alice B. Toklas moved in with– and became the life-long house mate of– Gertrude Stein.  Together, they turned their Parisian home at 22 rue de Fleurus into an artistic and literary salon, where they entertained Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald, among many others.

Toklas and Stein in the Piazza San Marco, Venice  (source: Beinecke Library, Yale)

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