Thursday, November 14, 2013


In the second pairing of the Ten Buts thru Ten Comm Project reading “Glazed Glitter.” through “Thou shalt have no graven images or likenesses,” Mark Snyder sets on the discussion table the complete text of Tender Buttons subpoem #2 with a full citation from the Old Testament detailing the Second Commandment.


Nickel, what is nickel, it is originally rid of a cover. 

The change in that is that red weakens an hour. The change has come. There is no search. But there is, there is that hope and that interpretation and sometime, surely any is unwelcome, sometime there is breath and there will be a sinecure and charming very charming is that clean and cleansing. Certainly glittering is handsome and convincing. 

There is no gratitude in mercy and in medicine. There can be breakages in Japanese. That is no programme. That is no color chosen. It was chosen yesterday, that showed spitting and perhaps washing and polishing. It certainly showed no obligation and perhaps if borrowing is not natural there is some use in giving. 

(Exodus 20:3-6): You shall have no other gods beside Me. You shall not make for yourself any graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them, nor serve them, for I, the Lord Your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.


Mark begin with the elements:

“Nickel is not a precious metal, but (according to Wikipedia) is used in alloys to create a silver-like alloy and is used for electroplating.  Had Stein wrote "silver, what is silver" or "gold, what is gold" the allusion to idolatry would be fairly obvious—but she didn't.  Nickel alloy is a cheap substitute for silver, so the idol made of it or electroplated with it is a cheap knock-off could this represent a blasphemous allusion rejecting G-d?  Rejecting the tradition of Judaism?

“The earth's core is thought to be made of iron-nickel alloy, though I don't know if Stein knew this.  You shall not make for yourself any graven image...or that is in the earth beneath...  
Next, Mark summons Eleanor Smagarinsky who had 13 years of orthodox Jewish Day Schooling and while waiting for her to enter the conversation continued to unroll his thoughts:

It is originally rid of a cover.  Eleanor, isn't the Torah traditionally covered?  Being rid of a cover, is she again rejecting Jewish tradition?

The change in that is that red weakens an hour. The change has come.  G-d is a jealous G-d and punishes those who engage in idolatry—or reject him.  (Red for blood, of course).

There is no search. G-d commanded the Israelites not to worship other gods (Eleanor, this is OK when referring to other gods, is that correct?  I want to be respectful—please forgive my ignorance.)

But there is, there is that hope and that interpretation and sometime, surely any is unwelcome, sometime there is breath. I'm murky here, but this seems to be a reassertion of faith—there is hope with faith.  Sometime there is breath (of life, of faith, of hope?).”


When Eleanor showed up in the MOOSG, she was surprised that Mark (who is not Jewish) was referring to God as G-d because within the confines of the MOOSG, Eleanor had not being spelling God in that respectful way. It made her think of  another way to refer to G-d.

EL means ‘God’ in Hebrew.  But orthodox Jews do not pronounce "el" unless they are praying or saying a blessing. If they are simply singing a song, for example, they will pronounce it KEL.” She explained that they do it this way as if they were not referring to G-d. That brought her to the word nickel, as in nic-KEL, as in no G-d.

As for Stein’s line, It is originally rid of a cover, Steiny, drawing various strings of commentary together, interprets in this way what was said by Eleanor and her Mum (yes, The Buttons bring in their Subject Matter Experts on occasion). Glazed glitter  “is all sound (alliteration) and no substance, it's a false title, false god, because it isn't an actual substance, just a glazing and a glittering.” Therefore, Eleanor said, “cover is the word itself, most specifically I suppose the 'C' sound of 'cover,' which is the 'K' sound we [Jews] say so as not to say the name of G-d." Here Steiny will gloss: nickel comes out of the earth removed from iron (rid of its cover) but nickel is a false god, all glitter no substance, that is, no substance in the way of spiritual essence.

Are you still with Steiny, Dear Reader? This business of not naming, as Stein sets up her “Objects” of Tender Buttons (refer to the opening paragraph of the intro to the 10 Buts—10 Comms Project if Steiny has lost you) is just like Jews not saying the name of God by using other placeholders. Eleanor continued that an every day placeholder for G-d is the word “Hashem.” In modern day Hebrew, hashem means “the name.” But capitalized Hashem refers to the respectful Jewish practice of not saying G-d’s name.

Eleanor, sounding rather Steinian, interpreted, “That change in that is that READ weakens an OUR." (Compare Eleanor’s interpretation to Stein’s line, The change in that is that red weakens an hour.) 

What Eleanor is possibly suggesting is if a person names G-d  by reading His name, this action weakens that person’s faith and, in general, weakens the overall practice of Judaism for everyone. This time Steiny will gloss the same sentence. What Eleanor is possibly suggesting is if a person names G-d (this is a change from the accepted Jewish practice to not name G-d) by reading (from Eleanor’s “that read” translating Stein’s “that red”) His name, this action weakens that person’s faith and, in general, weakens the overall practice of Judaism for everyone.

From these opening lines, Stein goes into a rap about how change has come with unwelcome interpretation and cushy jobs, possibly like the practice of medicine (There is no gratitude in mercy and in medicine.) which Stein abandoned in her fourth year of medical school. All this (the money, the status) was very attractive (Certainly glittering is handsome and convincing.). This matches up with the Children of Israel falling under the thrall of other gods and ending up giving away their jewelry to be melted down and made into the Golden Calf to possibly follow other religious practices with no commandments.

This discussion between Mark and Eleanor brought into view for Steiny that possibility that the unnamed word for “Glazed Glitter.” might indeed be livelihood. The Middle English root  livelyhed includes a variant liflihed producing such meanings as liveliness, energy, vigor. The modern day interpretation of livelihood is a means of supporting one's existence, especially financially or vocationally; a living. So Stein, after establishing a system to pointing in A Carafe, That Is A Blind Glass.”, now gives deep consideration to the every day elements for how she will proceed with that path she has set for herself, that path that is a new beginning and is documented by Tender Buttons.

1 comment:

Karren Alenier said...

In the Corrected Centennial edition of Tender Buttons the letter s is added to this sub poem as follows: "...surely any s is unwelcome...".

S sounds like the German pronoun "es" which translates as "it." "It" is used several times in this poem and might be referring to "livelihood"--the way Stein expected or expects to earn her way in her life time. The phrase "...surely any s is unwelcome..." might actually be interpreted as "...just any s is unwelcome..."--in other words not just any livelihood will do because she wants one that allows her to breathe and which perhaps is without worries (sinecure's root means without cure or without care)--something that feeds her soul. Curing people as doctor didn't offer what Stein wanted.

Stein uses the word "is" in this sub poem 14 times. "S" added to "I" changes the pronoun "I" to a verb indicating existence. Stein may be saying that she is being judged for abandoning the medical profession but to exist she must find breathing room for herself (I) who became it (S), a target by those following a false god.