Thursday, February 13, 2014

Stepping on Tender Buttons: “A Paper.”


THE BOOK ..........................-           TENDER BUTTONS
THE SUBBOOK ...................-           OBJECTS
THE SUBPOEM ...................-           A PAPER: NUMBER 29
STANZAS..............................-           1
WORD COUNT......................-          21
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.....................................-           GIDDY

The fall of Man, oh what an occasion that was!” Peter Treanor

“Meaning like time is relative. However we map our associations to Tender Buttons and whatever we call this work we do, we are finding knowledge.” Karren L. Alenier


A courteous occasion makes a paper show no such occasion and this makes readiness and eyesight and likeness and a stool.

According to the Buttons Collective, the critical words for “A Paper.” are paper—especially a paper show, occasion, and stool.


By way of introducing this subpoem, Dave Green said, “If you're meeting with someone and you want to be courteous, you shouldn't be looking down at a piece of paper, you should be looking at the person with a sense of readiness to hear what they have to say. This will bring out what's in common (likeness) between you, and you will both want to pull up a stool and sit a while.” The Steiny Road Poet can then picture a nervous first-time visitor to Gertrude Stein. He is holding onto a paper he is using as a prompt against tongue-tied fear.

Eleanor Smagarinsky going word by word offered this:

“COURTEOUS --- Courting
“SHOW --- A show of love
“READINESS --- An ability to read each other, intimacy, ready to publicise feelings.
“EYESIGHT --- Direct eye contact --- I-Sight ---Knowledge of oneself, necessary to have so as to be able to love another.
“OCCASION --- A remarkable moment, true... But also occ is the beginning of occular, again connected to sight.
“LIKENESS --- Liking each other ---being like each other --- loving?
“A PAPER SHOW --- Paper is translucent. But why "no"? Perhaps because a lesbian couple cannot show their love in public, like other couples? No transparency....
“THE STOOL..... No idea........ Dammit......  Maybe a stool a decoy??
“I have moons on my mind, so I Googled paper moon and read on Wikipedia ‘may refer to a spherical paper lantern’ and so, naturally, I remember my favourite scene in the film Tangled...if you see it in 3-D it's particularly breathtaking. Years after seeing that movie, a friend of mine moved to Thailand and sent me photos of the real thing, amazing!”

Digging in deep, Allan Keeton set out all the definitional permutations of the word occasion. After all, the word is used twice in this subpoem with a single stanza containing 21 words. What is most Xciting is that the root of occasion originates from falling:
Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin occasion-, occasio, from occidere to fall, fall down, from ob- toward + cadere to fall — more at ob-,chance

Looking at the full definition of occasion as a noun, one sees a relationship to time, situation,  and event:
:  a favorable opportunity or circumstance occasion
 to talk with them>
:  a state of affairs that provides a ground or reason 

:  an occurrence or condition that brings something about; especially :  inciting
 circumstance as distinguished from the fundamental cause occasion of a bitter quarrel>
:  happeningincident

:  a time at which something happens :  instance
:  a need arising from a particular circumstance

archaic :  a personal want or need —usually used in plural
plural :  affairsbusiness
:  a special event or ceremony :  celebration

Maybe, Steiny, thinks to herself about the root of occasion pointing to falling, an occasion can be the result of situational fallout. Certainly it could be like Dave’s shy visitor hanging onto his cheat sheet in the presence of the awesome Gertrude Stein.

Allan also pointed out that besides time, a synonym for occasion is moment. Since Stein’s philosophy of living and writing is to achieve the present moment, to open that window called now, occasion takes on a big emphasis. Being thorough, Allan also set out the antonyms:

Now Steiny is thinking that the root of occasion is more like its antonyms and how much this word must have intrigued Gertrude Stein who was keen on the push pull of the universe. In other words, Stein appreciated opposing forces because it represented a fuller picture of what she was up against.

However, occasion is also a verb meaning to cause (something to happen). And oh, the synonyms:

Why Steiny pauses here to swoon is that the string of synonyms begins with beget and Tender Buttons is all about the begetting of an extraordinary offspring of Stein’s mind. Furthermore, Stein’s wife Alice B. Toklas, whom Tender Buttons covertly celebrates, is the midwife—Alice taking paper in hand, inserts it into the typewriter every morning to produce a likeness of what Gertrude has handwritten the night before. So there is Alice perched on a pedestal (one of the definitions of stool) not only before the typewriter but also in Stein’s mind as a driving theme of Tender Buttons. Stein held Toklas on a pedestal, this woman who cleared away the clutter of daily living and nurtured Stein the body and Stein the mind.
Before Steiny loses her nerve or sight of this armless, backless object called stool, she warns you, Dear Reader, about the next push pull of the universe. Here is a list of what stool elicited for the Buttons: the artist’s stool, especially useful when painting outdoors all day; the low mourning stool used by the Jewish orthodox when sitting shiva; the footstool to God’s throne depicted in “The Sermon on the Mount”; the hanging stool put under the feet of a person about to be hanged; the dunking stool used by the Puritans as punishment; tea ceremony stools, usually used by the customers while the geisha preparing the tea kneels on the floor; origami stool, if made from paper big and strong enough, a person can actually sit on one of these; birthing stool, probably used by Gertrude Stein when she was studying medicine at Johns Hopkins and did work in the Black community of Baltimore; the lesbian love stool (comments censored); and you know…excrement.
Steiny won’t play stool pigeon and say who came up with these associations, but she will say one can spin a read through “A Paper.” using any of them. She recommends if you do so, that you keep most of the results to yourself. For now, Steiny, satisfied with the Alice-on-a-pedestal interpretation in spite of that rather bizarre photo of Alice sitting in a chair with very short legs while Gertrude sits in in stocking feet in a normal chair, will return to her bar stool for a hardy drink.

Turning away from stools to paper, Steiny reports the following associations from the Buttons: newspaper, writing paper, photographic paper, fans, shadow puppets, toilet tissue, and feminine hygiene products. Yup, more push pull of the universe that points to a women centric space. Oh, and not to forget that paper is what one gives a spouse on the first anniversary of marriage.
And one last thing discussed was mirror symmetry. It is related by the Buttons discussion in “A Paper.” to likeness. Eleanor stumbled upon mirror symmetry, which is one aspect of string theory that relates to geometric measuring of curves. The topic is so far outside the box that Steiny shall do no more than leave it on the stump and run. Well, just these thoughts, string theory came about (late 1960s) well after Gertrude Stein was dead but it addresses connectedness and all that push-pull gravity stuff Steiny has been playing with in this discussion. It’s exceedingly complex and seems to fit the model Stein was working with in Tender Buttons. And it uses words like objects.
“Now,” Steiny says to the Buttons, “throw the confetti,” picks up her lantern, sees the path ahead, and declares she is ready to move on.

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