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Monday, February 1, 2016

Cooking with Tender Buttons Food: Sugar. Stanzas 9-18. Discussion 2

 THE BOOK ..........................-           TENDER BUTTONS
THE SUBBOOK ...................-           FOOD
THE SUBPOEM ...................-           Sugar
WORD COUNT (Total)……...-          333
STANZA(S)............................-            18
Stanzas 1-8                                      170
—Stanzas 9-18                                    163
THE LEADER........................-          THE STEINY ROAD POET
CO-LLABORATORS.............-           MODPO STUDENTS/THE BUTTONS

The second half of “Sugar.” also proved to be a slippery sets of stanzas to discuss and required the Steiny Road Poet to interpret comments and choose how to present what was said. While both stanzas 1 through 8 and stanzas 9 through 18 of “Sugar.” deal with sexual topics, the emphasis in the second half is less judgmental and more matter of fact. Additionally, part 2 stanzas seem more evocative relative to Steinian semantics and visual art while part 1 stanzas seem more narrative.

The last ten stanzas of “Sugar.” has a 163-word count in contrast to the 170 words of the first eight stanzas. Among the topics addressed in this post are: myths, monsters & games; comfort food versus forbidden edibles; ill effects of sugar; the chemistry of sugar; sexual panic; sex as seen through water and fire; sexual abstractions; the art of the gas jet; crosstalk between “Sugar.” & “Roastbeef.”. Here are stanzas 9 through 18:

A puzzle, a monster puzzle, a heavy choking, a neglected Tuesday.

Wet crossing and a likeness, any likeness, a likeness has blisters, it has that and teeth, it has the staggering blindly and a little green, any little green is ordinary.

One, two and one, two, nine, second and five and that.

A blaze, a search in between, a cow, only any wet place, only this tune.

Cut a gas jet uglier and then pierce pierce in between the next and negligence. Choose the rate to pay and pet pet very much. A collection of all around, a signal poison, a lack of languor and more hurts at ease.

A white bird, a colored mine, a mixed orange, a dog.

Cuddling comes in continuing a change.

A piece of separate outstanding rushing is so blind with open delicacy.

A canoe is orderly. A period is solemn. A cow is accepted.

A nice old chain is widening, it is absent, it is laid by.

“And for Stein, food has also to do with taboos, what will make you ill or sinful, what is forbidden. What is coded as sexual: a cow for orgasm, a wet place, a blaze. What has onomatopoeic force of echo and reiteration: a a a a, ca-cu-ca-cu. ‘Cuddling comes in continuing a change.’" Mary Armour

In order to discuss stanzas 9 through 18, the Buttons often drew their impressions from several non-contiguous stanzas, so Steiny is listing stanzas addressed in the subtitles of each section of this post.

MYTHS, MONSTERS & GAMES [9, 10, 16]

Karren Alenier began the discussion with stanza 9 and said:
A puzzle, a monster puzzle, a heavy choking, a neglected Tuesday.

This stanza seems to be consumed by a perplexing puzzle that has caused the neglect of the Norse war god Tiw or Týr, his victory and his heroic glory.

“I base this on Stein’s use of the word Tuesday which Wikipedia says:”

The English name is derived from Old English Tiwesdægand Middle English Tewesday, meaning "Tīw's Day", the day of Tiw or Týr, the god of single combat, victory and heroic glory in Norse mythology. Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica, and the name of the day is a translation of Latin dies Martis.

“Perhaps this why the sugar is causing so much choking as well as other problems that we saw in the first half of this subpoem.

“I suspect Stein is talking about herself and now sugar is something other than Alice.”

Teri Rife approached stanza 9 by looking at other subpoems of Tender Buttons:

“Here's the monster again, and this time a monster puzzle.  We've had monstrous in 1) ‘A red hat.’ and monster in 2) ‘Mutton.’.

1)A dark grey, a very dark grey, a quite dark grey is monstrous ordinarily, it is so monstrous because there is no red in it. [‘A red hat.’]

      2)Mud and water were not present and not any more of either. Silk and stockings were not present and not any more of either. A receptacle and a symbol and no monster were present and no more. This made a piece show and was it a kindness, it can be asked was it a kindness to have it warmer, was it a kindness and does gliding mean more. Does it. [stanza 9 of ‘Mutton.’]

“Karren's comment in ‘Mutton.’:
I think Stein is doing two things here simultaneously. First of all she is invoking the creation myth with all the mud and water and that monster which is likely to be the golem, a man-like creature created from mud. Except her invocation comes from a negative stance. The actual creation is some kind of sculpture. So Stein is pointing to the making of art.

“So, it would appear that the golem is back in this subpoem.  Consider Stanza #10 of ‘Sugar.’:
Wet crossing and a likeness, any likeness, a likeness has blisters, it has that and teeth, it has the staggering blindly and a little green, any little green is ordinary.


“Sounds golem-like, but for the green.

“Also, consider Stanza #16 of ‘Sugar.’:
A piece of separate outstanding rushing is so blind with open delicacy.

“This seems to echo This made a piece show and was it a kindness.. [excerpt from stanza 9 of ‘Mutton.’]  
So there's kindness in Mutton and blind-ness in ‘Sugar.’.

“A puzzle is a game, and we saw a game in green and, again, a piece in ‘A plate.’:
A kind of green a game in green and nothing flat nothing quite flat and more round, nothing a particular color strangely, nothing breaking the losing of no little piece. [excerpt from stanza 3 of ‘A plate.’]

Alenier responded:

“The green seems a logical outgrowth from the mud! Brilliant! It does seem we have the golem here with its blisters and teeth!

Alenier also liked Rife’s “blind-kind” association. She said,

“My theory is that wherever Stein mentions kind we are talking gender identity. Blind logically connects to kind and it seems also to connect us to the golem. Maybe something like the elephant in the room? The prohibition on same sex relationships?

To wrap up thoughts about what Rife wrote, Alenier made this observation punctuated with a question:

“So here Teri connects the object—plate—with the food—sugar—which has become this game in green. Not sure where this line of thinking goes. Any thoughts?”

COMFORT FOOD VERSUS FORBIDDEN EDIBLES [TOC, 10, 12, 15]

Mary Armour responded to what Teri Rife had to say by looking at the big picture. She said:

I want to look at “Sugar.” from a few different angles. Right at the beginning of the Food section in TB, Stein gives a list of headings or topics:

ROASTBEEF; MUTTON; BREAKFAST; SUGAR; CRANBERRIES; MILK; EGGS; APPLE; TAILS; LUNCH; CUPS; RHUBARB; SINGLE; FISH; CAKE; CUSTARD; POTATOES; ASPARAGUS; BUTTER; END OF SUMMER; SAUSAGES; CELERY; VEAL; VEGETABLE; COOKING; CHICKEN; PASTRY; CREAM; CUCUMBER; DINNER; DINING; EATING; SALAD; SAUCE; SALMON; ORANGE; COCOA; AND CLEAR SOUP AND ORANGES AND OAT-MEAL; SALAD DRESSING AND AN ARTICHOKE; A CENTRE IN A TABLE.

“It's all about comfort food and where food is eaten and at what time of the year and the centrality of food as structuring a togetherness and a work of art. But it is also about more than food and about the dangers or what is hidden behind food, what food stands for. In this, we go back to Stein as an etymologist, separating words from context and having them stand alone, apart, the word in itself, the ding an sich we have seen elsewhere.

“And for Stein, food has also to do with taboos, what will make you ill or sinful, what is forbidden. What is coded as sexual: a cow for orgasm, a wet place, a blaze. What has onomatopoeic force of echo and reiteration: a a a a, ca-cu-ca-cu. ‘Cuddling comes in continuing a change.’"

SEXUAL PANIC [10]

“But when I hear this sentence, my projection perhaps, I hear something akin to sexual panic:

Wet crossing and a likeness, any likeness, a likeness has blisters, it has that and teeth, it has the staggering blindly and a little green, any little green is ordinary.

“A wet crossing as slippery and dangerous? Some kind of treacherous glissade, of loss of meaning, loss of footing, uncertainty?

“a likeness, any likeness, a likeness has blisterssome kind of contagious infection, reflections of selves that dissolve identity? What is separate and what is a piece of and what is merging or spilling over in a mirrored identity? Blisters indicate burns, infection, contagion, some open sores or repulsion in what is reflected

“it has that and teeththis is chilling for me, as if it recalls what Virginia Woolf describes in The Years, the child Rose exposed to the gibbering man in the street who exposes himself to her kind of allergy. A reflected face that is a likeness but has blisters and teeth, something not quite human, the vagina dentata, the loathsome consequence of the broken taboo

“The same likeness has this too: the staggering blindly and a little green. Which makes me wonder if our Green Fairy absinthe is making a reappearance, the loss of control and disorder of drunkenness. [e.g., the Buttons discussed the Green Fairy absinthe in ‘Glazed glitter.’]

“And then a change, recovery of the everyday, a return to another kind of green: any little green is ordinary. A village green, a green ribbon, a salad green. The green of asparagus, celery, cucumber.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cooking with Tender Buttons Food: Sugar. Stanzas 1-8. Discussion 1

THE BOOK ..........................-           TENDER BUTTONS
THE SUBBOOK ...................-           FOOD
THE SUBPOEM ...................-           Sugar
WORD COUNT (Total)……...-          333
STANZA(S)............................-            18
—Stanzas 1-8                                      170
THE LEADER........................-          THE STEINY ROAD POET
CO-LLABORATORS.............-           MODPO STUDENTS/THE BUTTONS

“Sugar.” is the fourth subpoem of Tender Buttons section 2 Food. Overall, the stanzas of this subpoem have a pronounced sense of morality—emphasizing what is wrong—as seen in such words and phrases as violent, no use in money, awfulness, shady, crestfallen, shame, negligence, poison. “Sugar.” has some cross talk with “A substance in a cushion.”, the third subpoem of Tender Buttons section 1 Objects. However, “Sugar.” has stronger affinities to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick which the Steiny Road Poet will discuss in a later blogpost.

The Buttons Collective began their studies with the first eight stanzas of “Sugar.”, which has a 170-word count, including the title. Among the topics addressed in this post are: giving sugar as rough love, the socio-economics of sugar cane, slavery in America, cross talk with “A substance in a cushion.”, sugar as medicine, and making stew or cloth.

SUGAR.

A violent luck and a whole sample and even then quiet.

Water is squeezing, water is almost squeezing on lard. Water, water is a mountain and it is selected and it is so practical that there is no use in money. A mind under is exact and so it is necessary to have a mouth and eye glasses.

A question of sudden rises and more time than awfulness is so easy and shady. There is precisely that noise.

A peck a small piece not privately overseen, not at all not a slice, not at all crestfallen and open, not at all mounting and chaining and evenly surpassing, all the bidding comes to tea.

A separation is not tightly in worsted and sauce, it is so kept well and sectionally.

Put it in the stew, put it to shame. A little slight shadow and a solid fine furnace.

The teasing is tender and trying and thoughtful.

The line which sets sprinkling to be a remedy is beside the best cold.

“…that first stanza does seem to stand out—it’s almost a shout out, there on its own—it’s violent, it’s passionate, it’s purple. A whole sample stained violent in violet, and violated by quiet.” Peter Treanor

GIVING SUGAR AS ROUGH LOVE

Entry into “Sugar.” seemed hard. Peter Treanor approached slowly and with some caveats.

 “It’s the title and the first line that have done it, it jumped out the first time I read it and now I can read it without seeing it.

Sugar, well, sweet and sweethearts and all those associations and as US slang Sugar—Kiss or loving. ‘Honey, come over here and give your grandma some sugar.’ (though it’s not entirely clear during which period it was used this way.)” [Note: Frontier Slang, Lingo & Phrases by Kathy Weiser-Alexander lists sugar as kiss or loving. Therefore, Steiny would say that the slang use of sugar would have been known to Stein through a novel about the wild west.)

“And then A violent luck and a whole sample and even then quiet.  A violent luck it’s is a very weird way to describe luck, (both as singular ‘A’ and as violent, though violent could point to dramatic I guess and ‘a’ to just one instance of it) and I can’t help but see the ‘L’ in luck as almost an ‘F,’ and then it makes much more sense as a violent (or passionate) one. She wouldn’t, would she? Maybe she would, it's coded and partially hidden and she seems to be quite explicit in other areas of TBs.

“A whole (or hole) an (ample) sample-ing could also be seen as being very racy in this context.

“But afterwards there does seem to be quiet (as they sink exhausted into the sheets). It’s the pairing of sugar, being so suggestive, and the strangeness around the construction of violent luck that make me wonder.”

Teri Rife answered by addressing syntax and meaning.

“Let's take a few minutes to enjoy the always-lovely juxtapositions GS sets up:
violent/luck.  How much more lucky could one get than being violently lucky? Say if your path crossed your soul mate's path on the very first day she set foot on a foreign continent, having arrived from the continent of your birth and speaking your language.  ‘Passionate’ is given as a synonym for ‘violent.’

“whole/sample—The sample you get is the whole thing. What greater expression of excess might there be than this?

“But to take all of this bounty and propel it to higher heights, set the words ‘even then quiet’ against them, at the end of the sentence. Make this the first sentence.  Make this a short sentence which does not wrap to another line.  Make it the only sentence in the stanza.  Now you've done everything you can to make your point.

“And, violent makes me think of those violets again—purple passion.”

Treanor responded:

“Yes, that first stanza does seem to stand out—it’s almost a shout out, there on its own—it’s violent, it’s passionate, it’s purple. A whole sample stained violent in violet, and violated by quiet.”

THE SOCIO-ECONOMICS OF SUGAR CANE

Because the Buttons Collective conversation didn’t follow the order of Stein’s stanzas, Steiny for the sake of readability will step in as need to smooth the way. Here are the substantive socio-economic ideas Rife had about stanza 2:

Water is squeezing, water is almost squeezing on lard. Water, water is a mountain and it is selected and it is so practical that there is no use in money. A mind under is exact and so it is necessary to have a mouth and eye glasses.

“I've been thinking there's the economics of sugar cane production and plantation slave labor here. Have we talked about this before—it seems familiar? On the economic front, there's squeezing (a buck?), no use in money, sudden rises, easy (money?), shady (business/money?), precisely that noise (so tight--cheap--you squeak?), a small piece (coin?), not at all mounting (not amounting?) and bidding.

“On the slave labor front, there's squeezing (more work?), selected (humans as animals at auction), so practical that there is no use in money (no wages to be paid), chaining, bidding, a separation...is so kept well and sectionally, put it to shame. These slaves must be kept in line. A mind under is exact and so it is necessary to have a mouth and eye glasses. A minder must be exacting in his work and must have a mouth to give orders and eye glasses to make sure he sees everything that's going on—not privately overseen.

“As it regards the production process for cane syrup, I read that 1,000 stalks of cane are crushed (squeezed?) to produce 80 gallons of juice (water?), which is then boiled down (in a fine furnace?) to 8 gallons of cane syrup.  So, proportionally speaking, it takes a mountain of water to get to the final product.  This cane syrup is the perfect sweetener for your ice cold tea, the remedy for the crystals of granular sugar which, even after much stirring, may still refuse to dissolve.”  

To top off this rich set of ideas, Rife made the following comment that touches on stanzas 4 and 7:

“Such tea-sing is tender and trying and thoughtful.  Making your tea sweet takes some work, as does making your marriage sweet—requiring tenderness, attention and thoughtfulness.”

Treanor answered:

Slavery and the sugar cane trade—yes, I’m sure we have seen that before. I can’t remember where though and I seem to recall it coming up a few times, especially slavery and cotton, was it in ‘A long dress.’?”

THE SUGAR CROSS TALK BETWEEN FOOD & OBJECT

Rife countered:

I can't place it, but sugar has popped up before.  I remember ‘Sugar is not a vegetable’ was in ‘A substance in a cushion.’.

Here Steiny steps in and offers some comparison between the entire set of stanzas of “Sugar.” and “A substance in a cushion.”.

TBO3—“Sugar is not a vegetable.”
TBF4—Title of subpoem is “Sugar.”

What is the substance in a cushion? Possibly it is Alice Toklas who represents Stein’s object of affection, her sweetheart, her love, her sugar. In the Food subpoem called “Sugar.”, the reader sees suggestions of sex versus sweetness in such phrases as:
—sudden rises [Stanza 3]
—A peck a small piece not privately overseen, not at all not a slice, not at all crestfallen and open, not at all mounting and chaining and evenly surpassing, all the bidding comes to tea. [Stanza 4 in its entirety]
—Put it in the stew, put it to shame. A little slight shadow and a solid fine furnace. [Stanza 6 in its entirety]
—The teasing is tender and trying and thoughtful. [Stanza 7 in its entirety]
—Wet crossing and a likeness [Stanza 10]
—A blaze, a search in between, a cow, only any wet place, only this tune. [Stanza 12 in its entirety]
Choose the rate to pay and pet pet very much. A collection of all around, a signal poison, a lack of languor and more hurts at ease. [Stanza 13]
—Cuddling comes in continuing a change. [Stanza 15 in its entirety]
—A piece of separate outstanding rushing is so blind with open delicacy. [Stanza 16 in its entirety]
A canoe is orderly. A period is solemn. A cow is accepted. [Stanza 17 in its entirety—Steiny is including canoe as coded sex talk but she has not easy answer for it is yet.]
A nice old chain is widening, it is absent, it is laid by. [Stanza 17 in its entirety—Steiny is thinking chains of love.]

TBO3—“What is the use of a violent kind of delightfulness”
TBF4— “A violent luck” [stanza 1]

In both examples, Stein plays with violence as if it were something a person would want. As Teri Rife said, this violence could be passion.

TBO3—“…the band has a green string.”
TBF4—“it has the staggering blindly and a little green, any little green is ordinary. [stanza 10]

The complete stanza from “A substance in a cushion.” with its mention of bed, groan grinding, sweet singing seems to point to sexual interaction:

A closet, a closet does not connect under the bed. The band if it is white and black, the band has a green string. A sight a whole sight and a little groan grinding makes a trimming such a sweet singing trimming and a red thing not a round thing but a white thing, a red thing and a white thing. [Stanza 8 of “A substance in a cushion.”]

In both subpoems, it is unclear what green might point to but both instances seem upbeat and might be thought of as nourishing these lines as if they might be green plants.

TBO3—“The change of color is likely…”
“Does this change.”
“Supposing you do not like to change, supposing it is very clean that there is no change in appearance
“Light blue and the same red with purple makes a change.”
TBF4— Cuddling comes in continuing a change.  [stanza 15]

Change appears five times in “A substance in a cushion.” so one can assume Stein is stressing the difference that comes with change. At the time, she wrote Tender Buttons, her relationship with Alice Toklas was a huge change. It made Stein question herself, become more circumspect (they had to hide their intimacy as a married couple), change her appearance in what she wore, etc. “Sugar.” takes a different approach on change—it’s a given that provides benefits like cuddling.

ANOTHER LOOK ON THE DARK SIDE—SLAVERY IN AMERICA

As to Peter Treanor’s question about whether slavery and the sugar cane trade show up in Objects subpoem 14 “A long dress.”, Steiny offers that it is possible but not specific. Questions like What is the current that makes machinery, that makes it crackle, what is the current that presents a long line as well as mention of a dark place countered with a white and red are black seem to touch on slavery as machinery and the mixing of races. “A long dress.” Is more likely to evoke cotton growing versus sugar cane.

In the subject of slavery and American crops grown on southern plantations, stanzas 3 and 4 might speak to the back-breaking work of slaves toiling in the cotton fields. The work required stooping over. Should a slave stand up looking for a place to escape the brutal sun then a plantation overseer might punish the slave by striking him or her with a whip or putting that unfortunate individual in chains. In contrast, the overseer might be invited to take tea with the family that owned the plantation.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Cooking with Tender Buttons Food: Breakfast. Stanzas 1-22 thru Moby Dick

THE BOOK ..........................-           TENDER BUTTONS
THE SUBBOOK ...................-           FOOD
THE SUBPOEM ...................-           Breakfast
WORD COUNT (Total)……...-           840
STANZA(S)............................-            22
Stanzas 1-9                                       312
Stanzas 10-16                                   224
Stanzas 17-22                                   304
THE LEADER........................-           THE STEINY ROAD POET
CO-LLABORATORS.............-            MODPO STUDENTS/THE BUTTONS

“Melville/White whale/Walls” Gertrude Stein
[in one of the unpublished, handwritten notebooks for The Making of Americans]


The Steiny Road Poet is saying that Gertrude Stein used Moby Dick as a model for Tender Buttons. If Steiny can convince you this is possible, then many things about Tender Buttons will be less mysterious, particularly a subpoem like “Breakfast.” which seems to be all over the place in a less informed context.

SOME THINGS YOU MIGHT BE WONDERING ABOUT

If you are wondering why Gertrude Stein would use Moby Dick as a model for Tender Buttons, consider these things:

Moby Dick addresses people on the outside of societal norms which is what Gertrude Stein had to deal with as a Jew and a secret lesbian.
—Herman Melville’s writing is grammatically and syntactically colorful, inventive, and exciting. He breaks rules and explores new territory in how to present a story, scientific data, and philosophic discourse. These were elements of extreme interest to Stein.
—Melville used Shakespeare and the Bible as models for his work and Stein followed suit.

If you are wondering why Gertrude Stein never revealed that she used Moby Dick as a model for Tender Buttons, consider that when she wrote Tender Buttons, Melville’s work was generally not known since his novel had received bad reviews and Melville had given up writing. She also never revealed that she used Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It” to inspire Tender Buttons. As a woman, Stein could not afford to announce that her work was based on male writings.

Steiny predicted in the first discussion of “Breakfast.” that there is more to be seen in its opening stanzas. Now Steiny understands this text shows more crosstalk between Tender Buttons and Moby Dick than she imagined. Both works have early subdivisions entitled “Breakfast,” but this is a false lead.

MEET CAPTAIN AHAB IN “BREAKFAST.”

Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck begins: “It was not a great while after the affair of the pipe, that one morning shortly after breakfast, Ahab, as was his won't, ascended the cabin-gangway to the deck.” The captain, who has thrown his pipe overboard in Chapter 30 because smoking was not calming him, comes on strong in this chapter. You might say in terms of stanza 5 that Ahab creates a clamor due to his lack of calm.  He asks for a hammer to nail a hefty gold doubloon to the mast, saying whoever sees the white whale first can claim this reward.

Receiving the top-maul from Starbuck [Captain Ahab’s first mate], he advanced towards the main-mast with the hammer uplifted in one hand, exhibiting the gold with the other, and with a high raised voice exclaiming: "Whosoever of ye raises me a white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw; whosoever of ye raises me that white-headed whale, with three holes punctured in his starboard fluke—look ye, whosoever of ye raises me that same white whale, he shall have this gold ounce, my boys!" [Moby Dick Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck]

A change, a final change includes potatoes. This is no authority for the abuse of cheese. What language can instruct any fellow. [Stanza 1 of “Breakfast.”]

With poetic repetition, Captain Ahab, the big cheese of the Pequod, instructs his crew about their mission, but it is his mission, to destroy the white whale that took off his leg. It’s a change from the meat-and-potatoes mission of just coming back to Nantucket with a cargo of whale oil gleaned from any whale. Therefore, there is no authority for Ahab’s abuse of power.

Now let’s look at Stanzas 2-5 of “Breakfast.”:

A shining breakfast, a breakfast shining, no dispute, no practice, nothing, nothing at all.

A sudden slice changes the whole plate, it does so suddenly.

An imitation, more imitation, imitations succeed imitations.

Anything that is decent, anything that is present, a calm and a cook and more singularly still a shelter, all these show the need of clamor. What is the custom, the custom is in the centre.

Stein’s shining breakfast is embodied in Ahab’s gold coin which no one disputes except Starbuck, but in the end the first mate gives in and allows that the entire crew is on board with Ahab’s plan to kill Moby Dick. For Starbuck, there is no value (nothing) in making “vengeance on a dumb brute.” Ahab’s reply to Starbuck kicks Ahab’s reason for going after the whale into another plane of thinking that deals with illusion and reality as well as evil versus good.

BREAKING THROUGH WALLS

All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event—in the living act, the undoubted deed—there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there's naught beyond. But 'tis enough. He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me. For could the sun do that, then could I do the other; since there is ever a sort of fair play herein, jealousy presiding over all creations. But not my master, man, is even that fair play. Who's over me? Truth hath no confines. Take off thine eye! more intolerable than fiends' glarings is a doltish stare! So, so; thou reddenest and palest; my heat has melted thee to anger-glow. But look ye, Starbuck, what is said in heat, that thing unsays itself. There are men from whom warm words are small indignity. I meant not to incense thee. Let it go. Look! see yonder Turkish cheeks of spotted tawn—living, breathing pictures painted by the sun. The Pagan leopards—the unrecking and unworshipping things, that live; and seek, and give no reasons for the torrid life they feel! The crew, man, the crew! Are they not one and all with Ahab, in this matter of the whale? [Moby Dick Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck]

Steiny sees a sudden slice piercing Ahab’s unreasoning mask which ultimately is the prisoner’s wall and for Stein is the whole plate. Stein is concerned about breaking through custom. Custom keeps a person prisoner to habits, habits which feed limitless imitation and stifles genius. Given that Gertrude Stein hand wrote ‘Melville/White whale/Walls’ on the inside back cover of one of her unpublished notebooks for The Making of Americans, Steiny thinks it is safe to say that this passage about breaking through the wall that is that white whale meant a great deal to this early Modernist.

Also, it is worth noting that Melville is taking liberties with the English language that surely gave Stein ideas about how to renew English. Notable are words pertaining to color as reddenest and tawn and negation words as unsays, unrecking, and unworshipping. Stein’s question—or exclamatory statement— What language can instruct any fellow then has additional punch and weight.

TEARING INTO THE TONGUE OF MOBY DICK

In stanza 6, Stein takes some liberties with language by using old forms that possibly signal the language of Moby Dick, a novel that mixes old language usage with new. Stein uses pleasanter instead of the more accepted more pleasant, cocoanut instead of coconut, and especial instead of special.

What is a loving tongue and pepper and more fish than there is when tears many tears are necessary. The tongue and the salmon, there is not salmon when brown is a color, there is salmon when there is no meaning to an early morning being pleasanter. There is no salmon, there are no tea cups, there are the same kind of mushes as are used as stomachers by the eating hopes that makes eggs delicious. Drink is likely to stir a certain respect for an egg cup and more water melon than was ever eaten yesterday. Beer is neglected and cocoanut is famous. Coffee all coffee and a sample of soup all soup these are the choice of a baker. A white cup means a wedding. A wet cup means a vacation. A strong cup means an especial regulation. A single cup means a capital arrangement between the drawer and the place that is open. [Stanza 6 of “Breakfast.”]


Stanza 6, as already stated in the first discussion of “Breakfast.”, establishes the Moby Dick/Tender Buttons crosstalk and the presence of the monstrous whale. What tipped Steiny off was the antiquated spelling of coconut (cocoanut is famous) which led to finding out that whale tongue was a French gourmet’s delicacy and then seeing the metaphoric connection in Melville’s novel that used salmon to describe the whale’s jumping abilities. However, there is more and the emphasis on drink brings The Quarter-Deck chapter back into play as Captain Ahab orders grog (watered down rum) served up to the crew.

"Drink and pass!" he cried, handing the heavy charged flagon to the nearest seaman. "The crew alone now drink. Round with it, round! Short draughts—long swallows, men; 'tis hot as Satan's hoof. So, so; it goes round excellently. It spiralizes in ye; forks out at the serpent-snapping eye. Well done; almost drained. That way it went, this way it comes. Hand it me—here's a hollow! Men, ye seem the years; so brimming life is gulped and gone. Steward, refill! [Moby Dick Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck]

Ahab commands the three mates to present their lances together so that he can take hold and validate where the poles cross. Then he says to them:

And now, ye mates, I do appoint ye three cupbearers to my three pagan kinsmen there—yon three most honourable gentlemen and noblemen, my valiant harpooneers. Disdain the task? What, when the great Pope washes the feet of beggars, using his tiara for ewer? Oh, my sweet cardinals! your own condescension, THAT shall bend ye to it. I do not order ye; ye will it. [Moby Dick Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck]

Next Ahab orders the harpoonists to cut the ties that hold the heads of the harpoons with its blades to the poles. He asks the mates, his appointed cupbearers, to take the steel end of the harpoons and turn them over so he can pour grog into the socket side of the harpoon hardware. Finally, Ahab has the harpoonists drink from these “murderous chalices.”

Needless to say the abundance of cups and the emphasis on drink in stanza 6 of Stein’s “Breakfast.” seems to point to Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck and the spectacular moment when Ahab gets his crew to agree that they will kill Moby Dick and then Ahab seals the deal with cups of grog.

What especially interests Steiny in Stein’s text is the word melon as it pertains to toothed whales like the spermaceti whale. (Moby Dick was a spermaceti whale.) The melon is a mass of adipose (fatty) tissue located in the forehead of all toothed whales. The melon, which assists with communication and echolocation, is not synonymous with the spermaceti organ from which the whalemen extracted a particularly find grade of whale oil. As far as Steiny knows Melville never mentions the melon but Stein most likely encountered the term when she was studying at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory near Nantucket in the summer of 1897. What made Steiny see melon as something special was that Stein separated the word watermelon into two words— Drink is likely to stir a certain respect for an egg cup and more water melon than was ever eaten yesterday.

Just as Steiny is not going to try at this time to correlate specifically the white, wet, strong, or single cups to Moby Dick, she is also not going to attempt to find pointed meaning in the egg cup. Though Steiny will say the egg cup seems to indicate Captain Ahab.

FRICTION BETWEEN STARBUCK AND AHAB

Generally speaking, “Breakfast.” stanzas 7 through 9 could be lined up with the heated exchange between Ahab and his first mate Starbuck.

Price a price is not in language, it is not in custom, it is not in praise.

A colored loss, why is there no leisure. If the persecution is so outrageous that nothing is solemn is there any occasion for persuasion.

A grey turn to a top and bottom, a silent pocketful of much heating, all the pliable succession of surrendering makes an ingenious joy.

Starbuck establishes with Ahab that Moby Dick is the same whale that “took off thy [Ahab’s] leg.” A bit reluctantly Ahab admits this is so and then swears that he will kill the “accursed white whale.” The crew backs up the captain for his plan but Starbuck says:

"I am game for his crooked jaw, and for the jaws of Death too, Captain Ahab, if it fairly comes in the way of the business we follow; but I came here to hunt whales, not my commander's vengeance. How many barrels will thy vengeance yield thee even if thou gettest it, Captain Ahab? it will not fetch thee much in our Nantucket market."

Ahab answers that he will see to it that Starbuck gets more pay for the work of this voyage:

Friday, January 1, 2016

Cooking with Tender Buttons Food: Breakfast. Stanzas 17-22. Discussion 3

THE BOOK ..........................-           TENDER BUTTONS
THE SUBBOOK ...................-           FOOD
THE SUBPOEM ...................-           Breakfast
WORD COUNT (Total)……...-           840
STANZA(S)............................-            22
Stanzas 1-9                                       312
Stanzas 10-16                                   224
—Stanzas 17-22                                   304
THE LEADER........................-           THE STEINY ROAD POET
CO-LLABORATORS.............-            MODPO STUDENTS/THE BUTTONS

The last stanzas of “Breakfast.” provoked extensive discussion among the Buttons Collective that went in different directions without unifying stanzas 17 through 22 or this third of the subpoem to the prior two segments. Recent discoveries made by the Steiny Road Poet pertaining to crosstalk between Tender Buttons “Breakfast.” and Moby Dick will be addressed in the next post.

Among other topics addressed in this post are: cereal versus tea; photography; martial marital minister; the language of mathematics; Steinian cocktails & cut and paste; gender dilemma; Steinian code; knife scissors cat—a new kind of game; and Passover rituals.

Burden the cracked wet soaking sack heavily, burden it so that it is an institution in fright and in climate and in the best plan that there can be.

An ordinary color, a color is that strange mixture which makes, which does make which does not make a ripe juice, which does not make a mat.

A work which is a winding a real winding of the cloaking of a relaxing rescue. This which is so cool is not dusting, it is not dirtying in smelling, it could use white water, it could use more extraordinarily and in no solitude altogether. This which is so not winsome and not widened and really not so dipped as dainty and really dainty, very dainty, ordinarily, dainty, a dainty, not in that dainty and dainty. If the time is determined, if it is determined and there is reunion there is reunion with that then outline, then there is in that a piercing shutter, all of a piercing shouter, all of a quite weather, all of a withered exterior, all of that in most violent likely.

An excuse is not dreariness, a single plate is not butter, a single weight is not excitement, a solitary crumbling is not only martial.

A mixed protection, very mixed with the same actual intentional unstrangeness and riding, a single action caused necessarily is not more a sign than a minister.

Seat a knife near a cage and very near a decision and more nearly a timely working cat and scissors. Do this temporarily and make no more mistake in standing. Spread it all and arrange the white place, does this show in the house, does it not show in the green that is not necessary for that color, does it not even show in the explanation and singularly not at all stationary.

Perhaps this is the most violent passage so far in Tender Buttons and yet it could just be nothing more than soaking some grain to prepare it for cooking.” Karren Alenier

Tender Buttons as collage—cut and paste.” Teri Rife

ON CEREAL AND TEA

Burden the cracked wet soaking sack heavily, burden it so that it is an institution in fright and in climate and in the best plan that there can be.
With words like burden, cracked, heavily, institution, fright, best plan, stanza 17 is literally overloaded with weights that seem threatening and for which a good strategy doesn’t exist. Karren Alenier opened this Tender Buttons discussion noting that Stein uses the word burden as a verb and that Stein insistently uses the preposition in and this repetition adds to a climate indicating something bad might happen. If the occasion is not dangerous, then perhaps it is boring like cracked wheat cereal soaking in its sack, such that the institution of breakfast has become habitual.


While Peter Treanor could see the cracked wheat cereal grains, he could also see “a tea bag, a wet sack with cracks or holes, burdened with water, burdened with the task of making a cup of tea.” In this case, the tea is heavily sugared which serves as a shock or fright to one’s system “on a cold or hot day supposed to be beneficial in any climate.” He referenced Wikipedia: The first tea bags were hand-sewn fabric bags; tea bag patents date as early as 1903.[2] First appearing commercially around 1904, tea bags were successfully marketed by the tea and coffee shop merchant Thomas Sullivan from New York, who shipped his tea bags around the world.


Then moving on to stanza 18, he suggested Stein might be pointing to coca tea:
An ordinary color, a color is that strange mixture which makes, which does make which does not make a ripe juice, which does not make a mat.

“On the theme of tea, an ordinary colour could be the brown/tan of the tea? Brown/tan being perhaps ‘ordinary.’ A colour is that strange mixture which makes, the mix of the tea with water or the mix of the tea with milk maybe. It isn’t a juice, well tea isn’t a juice and is more often from leaves not fruit, juice being more often from fruit. Which does not make a mat, well could that be playfully referring to, Spanish (Latin Am) for infusion/ tea. Mate de Coca being coca tea.”

ON PHOTOGRAPHY AND TEA ‘N T

Stanza 19 provoked sightings related to photography and more tea talk.
A work which is a winding a real winding of the cloaking of a relaxing rescue. This which is so cool is not dusting, it is not dirtying in smelling, it could use white water, it could use more extraordinarily and in no solitude altogether. This which is so not winsome and not widened and really not so dipped as dainty and really dainty, very dainty, ordinarily, dainty, a dainty, not in that dainty and dainty. If the time is determined, if it is determined and there is reunion there is reunion with that then outline, then there is in that a piercing shutter, all of a piercing shouter, all of a quite weather, all of a withered exterior, all of that in most violent likely.

Alenier on the subject of cameras offered:
“The timeline for the development of photography adds much to understanding this stanza, including use of celluloid film (1887), the 1888 Kodak box camera touted as first easy-to-use camera, the 1900 Kodak Brownie (very inexpensive user-reloadable point-an-shoot box camera).


“While I'm not sure what the cloaking of a relaxing rescue is, the winding could pertain to the box camera and its film. 

“Sentence 2 which talks about something cool and not dusting, not dirtying in smelling could be comparing the old method of photography which used gunpowder to create a flash of light. It smelled bad and created dust.”

Treanor able to put on Alenier’s glasses for photography responded:
It does sound very photography—winding a real winding does sound like the reel winding the film, and then the outline, the shutter, shouter (say cheese).”

However, Treanor was still seeing and hearing an explosion tea ‘n T:
“But I’m still a little obsessed with tea and tea bags. work and winding real winding of the cloaking, sound like ringing out or squeezing the exterior of the bag to make the tea brew quicker, the cloaking being the bag the tea is in. The relaxing rescue could be the tea, a relaxing, revitalizing and rescuing drink. It has a certain aroma (smelling). White water sounds like it could be milk. Dipped and dainty sound like the tea bag dipping in the dainty porcelain tea cup, all those dainties feel like it dipping in and out and in and out to make it brew. 

“Then there seems to be a run of words with the letter T in them and lots of T sounds
If the time is determined, if it is determined and there is reunion there is reunion with that then outline, then there is in that a piercing shutter, all of a piercing shouter, all of a quite weather, all of a withered exterior, all of that in most violent likely.

“All those T’s, Leaves of Tea, tea leaves, rather than Leaves of Grass.”

Alenier thought Treanor’s obsession with the tea bag a good complement to the meal of breakfast but she added on more thought on shutter speed: “I had one other thought and this has to do with with shutter speed and how this has to break fast when one shoots. This is also time determined, particularly in low light conditions.”

Emily W picked up the discussion on photography and moved the discussion tangentially with the word plate into stanza 20:
“The repeated use of ‘dainty’ makes me wonder about if she is referring to the subject of the photo.  A captured moment on a plate. Cameras aren't exactly dainty but they are fragile and the lens is small, and one must be careful with the resulting image to not damage it.

“Also, the repetition makes me think about the way a person could use a camera to get many different perspectives on a subject, like a cubist painter might, but effect is different since the images are separate while a painting has more freedom to include everything in one.

“I just listened to the Poem Talk about Barbara Guest's poem ‘Roses’ (ModPo Plus chapter 8). As I understand, the poem is a reference to something GS said, that a painting has no air in it. A photo doesn't either, but the image created has a realism beyond what a painter can do, so I'm back to the daintiness of the people in the photo with the air sucked out, shrunk down from their original size.”

MARTIAL VERSUS MARITAL

Alenier picked up the conversation by looking at stanza 20 more comprehensively:
An excuse is not dreariness, a single plate is not butter, a single weight is not excitement, a solitary crumbling is not only martial. 
“With this stanza, could Stein be referring to her ‘failed’ career as a medical doctor An excuse is not dreariness, but simultaneously saying that her decision was not bleak. Then she goes to persuade the reader that a single woman (plate-weight) that is, herself, might disintegrate and that would be a violent thing (a solitary crumbling is not only martial)

“The word martial led me to the mythological Mars, God of War and lover of Venus.”

Teri Rife joined the discussion, saying:
“That word martial is interesting. Depending upon where the ‘i’ is located, either before or after the ‘t’ (for Toklas?), it is seemingly very different—i before t = marital; i after t = martial. But maybe there are aspects of both in a relationship.

“I think that this line could also be talking about aspects of finishing a meal. The statement, ‘May I please be excused?’ is not as dreary as many other excuses made. A single plate is not—a butter plate? A single person left waiting (sounds like weighting) at the table is not exciting. A solitary crumb-catcher finally clears the field of battle on the dining table.”

Alenier thanked Rife for “spelling out the martial/marital double take! I kept stumbling over that word the first few reads but didn't consciously realize why.”

MINISTER: A MIXED PROTECTION
In picking up the forward movement through the last “Breakfast.” stanzas, Alenier observed:
A mixed protection, very mixed with the same actual intentional unstrangeness and riding, a single action caused necessarily is not more a sign than a minister.
I think this one is particularly obscure. So I'm starting backwards and going for minister:”

min·is·ter
 (mĭn′ĭ-stər)
n.
1.
a. One who is authorized to perform religious functions in a Christian church, especially a Protestant church.
b. Roman Catholic Church The superior in certain orders.

2. A high officer of state appointed to head an executive or administrative department of government.

3. An authorized diplomatic representative of a government, usually ranking next below an ambassador.

4. A person serving as an agent for another by carrying out specified orders or functions.

“I'm putting my money on— #4: A person serving as an agent for another by carrying out specified orders or functions.

“Here is the root of minister:”
Middle English, from Old French ministre, from Latin minister, servant; see mei- in Indo-European roots.]

“I'm thinking the minister is Alice. She is the one cooking breakfast.

“And perhaps the word riding points to inroads?
    road - First meant ’riding’ or ’hostile incursion on horseback’—a sense preserved in ’inroads.’”

Agreeing that the word minister has the most interest and possibility in this stanza, Rife suggested looking at the meaning as a verb.

verb: minister; 3rd person present: ministers; past tense: ministered; past participle: ministered; gerund or present participle: ministering
1.attend to the needs of (someone).’her doctor was busy ministering to the injured’
(archaic)provide (something necessary or helpful).’the story was able to minister true consolation’





2.act as a minister of religion.
synonyms:
tend to, care for, take care of, look after, nursetreat, attend to, see to,
administer to, helpassist—doctors were ministering to the injured’



administer (a sacrament).


Origin
Middle English (sense 1 of the noun and sense 3 of the noun): from Old French minister (noun), ministrer (verb), from Latin minister ‘servant,’ from minus ‘less.’