Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Stepping on Tender Buttons: “A New Cup and Saucer.”, “Objects.” Part 2 of 3


THE BOOK ..........................-           TENDER BUTTONS
THE SUBBOOK ...................-           OBJECTS
THE SUBPOEM ...................-           A NEW CUP AND SAUCER: NUMBER 24
STANZAS..............................-           1
WORD COUNT......................-          16
THE SUBPOEM ...................-           OBJECTS: NUMBER 25
STANZAS..............................-           3
WORD COUNT......................-          49
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.....................................-            AWED


Enthusiastically hurting a clouded yellow bud and saucer, enthusiastically so is the bite in the ribbon.


Within, within the cut and slender joint alone, with sudden equals and no more than three, two in the centre make two one side.

If the elbow is long and it is filled so then the best example is all together.

The kind of show is made by squeezing.

Part two looks at “Objects.” and the work that the Buttons Collective had to do to move to a higher level of understanding about the mastery of what Gertrude Stein achieves with this seminal subpoem.


After Mark Snyder delivered his ideas on “A New Cup and Saucer.”,  he said he was stumped about “Objects.”. The Steiny Road Poet said this subpoem with the same name as Section 1 of Tender Buttons suggested to her Japanese gardening and tree grafting. The garden connection—clouded yellow bud—was why The Steiny Road Poet chose to pair these subpoems. However, subliminally Steiny had been thinking trees as in redbud, but as it turns out there is also a yellow-bud hickory tree. 

Later, Mary Armour said,

“French garden design and grooming of plants is meticulous and formal -- and has been since the time of Andre Le Notre [the principal gardener of Louis XIV and responsible for design and construction of the park surrounding the Palace of Versailles]. They graft everything that can be grafted to produce exquisite fruit or blossoms, they prune and shape with nail scissors. Small ornamental 'lollipop' trees in white-painted Versailles planters do not have a leaf out of shape. Rootstock has a written and certified genealogy, fruit is espaliered and trained along trellis frames, style is an obsession from the planting of seeds to the final pollarding of ancient vines. For a sloppy amateur gardener, classic French planting is unattainable. I've yet to meet an amateur French gardener, they all have a degree of professionalism that puts the rest of us to shame.

“It makes sense to me that Gertrude would have seen Parisian plant-lovers at work, especially in the spring and autumn, tying up new climbers, grafting and pruning, vigilant to protect new buds, monitoring their experiments in grafting, placing fresh straw under  strawberries, keeping ripening peaches in paper bags. Topping and deadheading.

“An ongoing 'enthusiastic hurting' of the plant in order to ensure beauty and fecundity.”


After the grafting and pruning comments, Peter Treanor and Mark flailed around trying to dig in deeper to OBJECTS. Peter ran his intuitive anagram strategy:

“The repeating of within, suggests she’s up to something, maybe. Are within within the sudden equals? The same words are they equal? It is the one being to one side of slender joint alone that got me wondering in the first place about it.  
“I’ve done all sorts of gymnastics with slender joint alone, which she seems to suggest should be cut. Tried to follow the pointers in the line. There are no more than three of the same letter, E and N occur three times. Maybe they are sudden equals? O is (in) the centre letter of the 3 words [slender joint alone]. And there are two O's in the three words  (two in the centre).  
“And ‘int al’ are the letters that lie between the two O's. Two in the centre seem like they should make something but I can’t see what. Two I's in ‘int al’ would make initial, but that is stretching it a bit far even for me, I think! Oh but anymore alludes me, I’m sure there’s something in there though, and the sentence is pointing, obliquely as usual, to itself.”

Mark conjectured a “strange mathematical equation or computer programming language”:
“[WITHIN [within the cut and slender joint alone] WITH SUDDEN  = AND NO MORE THAN THREE] (then) [2 IN THE CENTER = 2 ON ONE SIDE]


“WITHIN [within the cut and slender joint alone with sudden] = AND NO MORE THAN THREE (then) [2 IN THE CENTER = 2 ON ONE SIDE]

“Something like that, depending on how you parse it.  Having done that, I'm still perplexed!”

While Eleanor Smagarinsky held her aching head, Steiny cheered Mark on:

“I think Gtrude probably had some kind of logic equation working—something she would have learned from William James. So let's keep playing that angle. It might yield yet another angle in the cubist system to pointing.

“Also I'm reading The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France 1885 to WWI--Alfred Jarry, Henri Rousseau, Erik Satie, Guillaume Apollinaire. In this book, I am seeing Gtrude tapped into the zeitgeist of her time and near past.

“I like these lines from the book:
Discursive logic is linear and moves from point to point. Art of the modern era, like religious meditation, is circular and revolves around a point whose location is limitless.

“Does this not sound a bit Gertrude-ish? Her system to pointing is circular as we are learning.”

Peter jumped back into the code-breaking game saying he was “channeling Alan (Turing)”:

“2 ON ONE SIDE],  there are 2 E's on the one side (right ) of the words
[2 IN THE CENTER, there are 2 E's in the center of the word center ( depending on which spelling is used, center / centre).
 AND NO MORE THAN THREE], there are not more than 3 E's in the phrase , there are in fact 3 .

“7E's on that side of the operation.

“Alan (Turing) seems to be baffled by the other half of the equation and on what all those E's could mean, be or do.”


Steiny rejoined:

“That's a good go at that, Peter. All those E's set up a high-pitched squeal if they are isolated.

“Only the word three has that squeal power as a word. However, if the title of the subpoem—OBJECTS—is a verb than the squeal has some meaning and look it does lead eventually to squeezing.

“Not sure Turing is liking what I am saying.”

Here Allan Keeton entered the conversation making reference to a musical thread involving squeezeboxes (accordions) and bagpipes :

Wow squEaling Es!

A bagpipe squEals with squEEzing.

A climatic moment!

Steiny, ever the voice of reason, floated this thought: “Now I'm wondering if we have squeezed out all the air from "Objects." I keep thinking we are still missing something here given its repetition of Section 1 title name.”


But Eleanor undaunted had two new theories:

Theory #1—objectifying women

“two in the centre
The centre of the word two is W.

"make two one side.
We call W doubleyou [U+U], but it's really doublevee [V+V].
W is for woman/women.
Do we sometimes objectify women? Are they objects?
There are two sides to humans—i.e. two genders—male & female.
The letter W takes two of the one side and puts them together.
Two women, side by side.”

Theory #2—The Incomplete Roman Alphabet

“It suddenly occurred to me that "Objects." contains letters which are generally rare, I mean - Q and X and Z. So I checked all of the letters used in this poem, and every single letter of the alphabet is used other than TWO:


Now hold on to these theories, Dear Reader, for a brief interlude where Mark found another way to look at "Objects." through baseball. Mark said referring to Judy Meibach’s research on the root meaning squeeze,

“You got me thinking about the etymology of the word squeeze, and it occurred to me- this is out of left field of course, but our discussion of baseball came to mind!

“The squeeze play, or suicide squeeze, (for folks who don't know baseball) is when a runner on third base suddenly breaks for home as the batter bunts the ball.  The intent is to catch the pitcher and catcher out of position so neither can field the ball and tag the runner out, allowing the runner to score.  It is a rare play but it is quite climactic when it happens.  

“Of course, a batter can show bunt and not try to bunt the ball, perhaps as the runner on third feints to run home, again to catch defenders off guard (if there is a runner on first, for example, who might be able to benefit from the confusion and steal second base).  Maybe even a double steal, where the runner on first breaks for second, then when the defenders respond by throwing the ball to second base, the runner on third breaks for home.  

“WITHIN the foul lines (the CUT AND SLENDER JOINT) the game is played.  ALONE the batter stands by himself—the rest of his team is on the bench waiting to bat.  There are NO MORE THAN THREE runners because there are only three bases besides home plate.  TWO infielders IN THE CENTRE (second baseman and shortstop) and TWO on each SIDE (first baseman and third baseman).  

“IF THE ELBOW IS LONG AND IT IS FILLED (if the bases are loaded) THEN THE BEST EXAMPLE IS ALL TOGETHER (a grand slam home run).”  

Collective Buttons’ memory surfaced the baseball imagery seen in “A Plate.” to which Steiny added,

“In PLATE there is also centre:”

Pack together a string and enough with it to protect the centre, cause a considerable haste and gather more as it is cooling, collect more trembling and not any even trembling, cause a whole thing to be a church. 

“Also there is a lot of cutting:”

Cut cut in white, cut in white so lately. Cut more than any other and show it. Show it in the stem and in starting and in evening coming complication.

“While plant pruning was mentioned, we didn't discuss that in PLATE. So there is nothing idle about the cutting and squeezing going on in ‘A New Cup and Saucer.’

And, well, this subpoem is called OBJECTS, which is a repetition of the section name so this subpoem is important in the overall schema of Tender Buttons.”


Sarah Maitland Parks offered that "Objects." reminded her of “a forceful, skillful cook preparing a joint of meat for roasting. Holding it tightly, tying it up in 2 places with string to divide it up into thirds. The joint could even have some stuffing in it so the meat needs to be tightly wrapped around the innards and trussed up before cooking. A cook would give the prepared joint a good old squeeze before putting it on the roasting tin and placing it in the oven.”
There was also discussion of the squeezing going on in making dumplings.

However, Steiny, taking another run at the elusive subpoem, pondered,

“ Objects

“Could be a sentence component: subject, verb, compound or complex objects.

“This is Stein saying something about writing with nouns perhaps?”

Allan with pickaxe at the ready asked, “How does this subpoem OBJECTS stand in for the entire collection of subpoems in OBJECTS? Can they all be squeezed into this OBJECTS? There must be something recursive happening.”


And then, Judy casually offers what moves the entire conversation to a new level of understanding and awe for Gertrude Stein’s achievement. If the following seems to lack color, Steiny insists this is the quiet before the storm when the sky turns red:

“but there has to be a reason—you know I was thinking—in the Old Testament—at least in the Hebrew—the title of the individual books i.e. Genesis, etc. is often the title of the first 'set of chapters'—I know that it might not make sense in English— but when I think  of the Hebrew—which is how I learned it—it makes sense—now it makes sense in terms of Stein.”

And so the groundwork was laid for a remarkable ascension to a higher plane of understanding why the subpoem “Objects.” within the section called “Objects” of Tender Buttons is, indeed, as important as Steiny insisted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Charming, VERY charming!