Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Stepping on Tender Buttons: “A Chair.” Part 2 of 6


THE BOOK ..........................-           TENDER BUTTONS
THE SUBBOOK ...................-           OBJECTS
THE SUBPOEM ...................-           A CHAIR: NUMBER 18
STANZAS..............................-           9
WORD COUNT......................-           256
THE LEADER........................-           THE STEINY ROAD POET
GENRE..................................-           VIRTUAL OPERA
LOCATION............................-           USA, UK, Australia, Philippines, S. Africa, Canada.
TIME......................................-           ALL HOURS OF EARTH’S CLOCK
TONE.....................................-           CLANDESTINE & MOURNFUL


A widow in a wise veil and more garments shows that shadows are even. It addresses no more, it shadows the stage and learning. A regular arrangement, the severest and the most preserved is that which has the arrangement not more than always authorised.

A suitable establishment, well housed, practical, patient and staring, a suitable bedding, very suitable and not more particularly than complaining, anything suitable is so necessary.

A fact is that when the direction is just like that, no more, longer, sudden and at the same time not any sofa, the main action is that without a blaming there is no custody.

Practice measurement, practice the sign that means that really means a necessary betrayal, in showing that there is wearing.

Hope, what is a spectacle, a spectacle is the resemblance between the circular side place and nothing else, nothing else.

To choose it is ended, it is actual and more than that it has it certainly has the same treat, and a seat all that is practiced and more easily much more easily ordinarily.

Pick a barn, a whole barn, and bend more slender accents than have ever been necessary, shine in the darkness necessarily.

Actually not aching, actually not aching, a stubborn bloom is so artificial and even more than that, it is a spectacle, it is a binding accident, it is animosity and accentuation.

If the chance to dirty diminishing is necessary, if it is why is there no complexion, why is there no rubbing, why is there no special protection.

Dear Reader, welcome to the discussions of stanzas 2 and 3 of "A Chair." You may not feel comfortable sitting in some of these locations visited so the Steiny Road Poet hopes you have on comfortable shoes.


Playfully, Peter Treanor laid claim “on behalf of Queen Elizabeth and all her dominions, in true blue pom style” to stanza 2. In his analysis, Peter asserts various locations for this stanza—hospital, church, hotel, and later prison but it could also refer to the institution of marriage. Here are his first thoughts:

A suitable establishment, well housed, practical, patient and staring, a suitable bedding, very suitable and not more particularly than complaining, anything suitable is so necessary.

“Where and what is this suitable establishment? An establishment has a feel of somewhere other than a home, somewhere more formal and um well more established. It makes me think of hospitals, being a hospital worker myself, they are practical—all that doing and being done to, patient, both having patients in it and having to be patient for all that are in them, all that waiting for recovery or death or information, there can be a lot of staring, especially if shell shocked patients are in there or people coming to terms with bad news or of relatives staring at their loved ones who are ill there. There is all that bedding on all those beds. Its no use complaining about it, it is a suitable place to be if ill or dying or indeed just died.

“But it also has a feel of a church about it too. Well housed, the house of God, practical, patient and staring, as maybe in the ritual of the funeral service, all that staring at the heavens for some meaning to it all or in prayer. Suitable bedding, the coffin? The being laid to rest back in the earth? The ritual suitable and necessary…

“Or maybe it is a hotel or a boarding house, somewhere with beds, that’s practical, where there is waiting and staring, and beds, I do seem to recognise the whiff of a hospital there though, maybe it is the faint smell of the detergent I am getting that I am so used to or the distant clank of steel bedpans I hear being emptied in corridors far away.”

Then Peter went in deeper providing a definition:

Establishment is interesting:
    1 [mass noun] the action of establishing something or being established: the establishment of an independent government
     [count noun] archaic a marriage: her chief solicitude was to procure an affluent establishment for their daughter
    2a business organization, public institution, or household: hotels or catering establishments
    3 (usually the Establishment) a group in a society exercising power and influence over matters of policy, opinion, or taste, and seen as resisting change: he scandalized the Establishment of his day [as modifier]: she became an establishment figure
     [with adjective or noun modifier] an influential group within a specified profession or area of activity: rumblings off discontent among the medical establishment
    4 (the Establishment or the Church Establishment) the ecclesiastical system organized by law.
     The Church of England or of Scotland.

Establishment can mean a marriage, which puts another slant on this stanza:
A suitable establishment, well housed, practical, patient and staring, a suitable bedding, very suitable and not more particularly than complaining, anything suitable is so necessary.

A suitable marriage, well housed (affluent partner perhaps) practical, (as opposed to romantic) patient and staring, (as in shock or unhappiness) a suitable bedding (a less than romantic view of the nature of marriage) and if offered a suitable marriage no point complaining as anything so suitable is so necessary.

Penultimately, Peter sized up the stanza against a prison sentence leading to the electric chair.

“Or I’m thinking maybe a prison, prison being a practical solution to crime, having to be patient and do your time, lots of staring and reflecting, a suitable bedding—you’ve made your bed, now lie in it; done the crime, now do the time. It is suitable and necessary. And it makes me think about title being the chair. The mention of the veil, the shadows, the severest arrangement as being the electric chair. Some horrible photos online show people having their heads covered with a black cloth (veil) before being executed in the electric chair, and execution being the severest of arrangements you could imagine.” Dear Reader, here’s one chair, we won’t offer to show you.

Barbara Crary added these thoughts tied to the Lincoln assassination:

“Peter, in further exploration of the possible connection to the Lincoln assassination, I’ve read that Lincoln didn't die at Ford's Theater, where he was shot, but he was moved to a "cheap boarding house" across the street, where he succumbed the next day.  This establishment was suitable to the task, practical in that it provided suitable bedding in a building that was patient(ly) staring across the street from the theater.  Although some might have been more particular and perhaps complained that this was no place for the President, it was both necessary and suitable to the task of housing a dying man.”


T. De Los Reys discussed stanza 3 in terms of death and mourning and how this might relate to Stein herself.

A fact is that when the direction is just like that, no more, longer, sudden and at the same time not any sofa, the main action is that without a blaming there is no custody.

A fact is that
“She is talking about something that has occurred, that is true, that is proven. A fact is that is a way of saying: here's what I know, here is what is known, here's what happened. Something interesting from Wikipedia:
    Fact may also indicate findings derived through a process of evaluation, including review of testimony, direct observation, or otherwise; as distinguishable from matters of inference or speculation. This use is reflected in the terms "fact-find" and "fact-finder"
    Apart from the fundamental inquiry into the nature of scientific fact, there remain the practical and social considerations of how fact is investigated, established, and substantiated through the proper application of the scientific method. Scientific facts are generally believed to be independent of the observer: no matter who performs a scientific experiment, all observers will agree on the outcome.

“I find that I like the idea of Stein as a fact-finder, that as a poet with a scientific background, the things that she writes in her poems are checked, observed, investigated, backed by evidence. You know? That there is a method to how she writes, that these are not meaningless works, that each word has a purpose. 

“Another thing I've thought of: the phrase, "a fact of life"—something that must be accepted and cannot be changed, however unpalatable. And I'm thinking: writing as a fact of life, loving as fact of life, living and dying as a fact of life.”

when the direction is just like that,
“The direction of life—towards death then? We are born, so we could die? That it is a fact that our lives have an end, that we are all dying, that we are all headed towards there. Or: towards a stage in their lives when there could be some difficulty, because of the war? When things could be uncertain.

“The direction of a chair—facing something, someone? If in mourning, in shiva, is it facing anything specific? I know that mirrors are covered, but not much else. When I read Jonathan Tropper's This is Where I Leave You, siblings come together and sit shiva for their father, and if I remember correctly sometimes they are in a circle and facing each other. In the funerals I've gone to, everyone's chairs are always facing the casket. So perhaps—the direction of a chair faces a loved one? The direction of Gertrude's chair will always face Alice, I imagine, and vice versa, whether in life or in death. I mean—of course there are those who prefer to sit beside each other, but to face a lover to see her face, to look into her eyes is significant.

“Direction could also mean advice or command: this is what you'll do. I am thinking, just as Stein is making a new catalogue, a new system of naming—is she also making a new instruction manual/guide to living?

“In relation to “A Piano.”—musical direction?” Here Steiny will break into T.’s analysis to remind those following the progression through Tender Buttons that in  “A Piano,” we discovered the direction of awk, meaning that Stein’s system of pointing may not be usual and may be inverted or otherwise contrary from standard directions. Possibly this related to coded Lesbian love. Now back to T.’s discussion.

“Another thing, from Stanzas in Meditation: "...Any one can learn that north of course / Is not only north but north as north / Why were they worried. / What I wish to say is this. / Yes of course". Also see: Where the South Differs from the North.

“I am also curious as to her usage of when instead of where.”

no more,
“The direction is that—onwards, exactly this, this exactly. Or: no more, because there is no moving forward? The direction is fixed, just here, perhaps facing something, but here still?”

“If the direction is longer, then perhaps it might take some time to get there? Or: as in moving forward—the road gets longer, but is always ever forward (no more in this context might mean not looking back?).”

“I return to the idea of the death of a loved one—this being a rupture out of the ordinary, an occurrence that would pull you to a new direction instantly, one that puts you on a path to an imagined future that is no more, a long period of mourning or grieving, a sudden emptiness.”

and at the same time not any sofa,
“It will not give you any comfort—a chair, instead of a sofa. A chair is a direction and at the same time not any sofa, not any other chair that you know. This is a fact, something that has happened, that is true, though not necessarily something that has happened to you. Hence it will not be easy, and it will not be something you will enjoy.”

the main action is that without a blaming there is no custody.
“And it would be easier to have someone or something to blame for a thing that happened that is beyond your control. To have someone be held accountable—so that he/she can pay, so that he/she can face the consequences. But whom can you blame if the death is caused by sickness or an accident or "an act of God"? Perhaps this is why Gertrude recognises the futility of language at the face of grief.”

In these two stanzas, Dear Reader, Stein establishes location and method. Always as initiated in "A Carafe, That Is a Blind Glass.", the opening subpoem of Tender Buttons, Stein is creating her system to pointing through keen observation as she learned from her Harvard professor William James.

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