DID YOU NOTICE THE NEW TITLE? it is one of my favorites! DID YOU ALSO NOTICE THAT THE A’s SWEPT THE TWINS? BRING ON THE TIGERS!
so i cleaned out my closet and found an old pair of jeans…in the pocket, i found an old looking $10 bill. on the back of the bill, there was a short poem signed ‘F. O’hara’ dated 1959!!! apparently, it is a long lost poem that has been circulating for almost 50 years! needless to say, we are all very excited
so pamela posted re: the villa / stein discussion and i wanted to repost her comment (as well as forrest’s most recent comment) to continue discussion in this comment stream (i hope).
(gertrude stein, by andy warhol)
I can’t help seeing the biographical correspondences in Stein’s opposition between the servile (feminine) comma and the decisive (masculine) period. I keep thinking back to that unflattering New Yorker article a few years back, which quoted a magazine photographer’s memories of photographing Stein on an ocean liner. He didn’t want to shoot her just standing woodenly still, so he instructed her to act like she was doing a task, like unpacking her suitcase. This flummoxed Stein because, she said, Alice always unpacked her suitcase for her, she never unpacked her suitcase for herself and didn’t know how to. Well then do something you know how to do, the photographer said. Stein said she knew how to take off her own hat and put it back on, and so the portrait was taken, of her taking off her hat and putting it back on.
For me, this puts a biographical spin on:
“As I say commas are servile and they have no life of their own, and their use is not a use, it is a way of replacing one’s interest and i do decidedly like to like my own interest my own interest in what I am doing. A comma by helping you along holding your coat for you and putting on your shoes keeps you from living your life as actively as you should lead it…”
Is Stein displaying more than a bit of resentment toward those feminine helpers (Alice and/or a maid) who enabled her masculine privilege (freedom from household chores, free time to pursue willful acts of self-expression) but also helped keep her in a state of dependent infancy? Is her dismissal of the comma an attempt to erase or deny the significance of these partners/helpers in relation to her work process?
I’d say she was a little deffiant in feminine and masculine characteristics. Especially if her most prominent muscle memory was putting on and taking off her hat. (Unless it was a really cold cruise.) I’d say this is where she really pays for the death of the reader. It’s only dead because it’s suffused into everything. And here we are reading her hat.