in which witness is borne: birds, politics, fiction and critical art theory

vegetables and Gertrude Stein

Tuesday, March 29, 2005
anyone, anyone out there who is not familiar with gertrude stein will love her, i promise and guarantee. i haven't even read most of her work. this is another reason to stay alive: you have GOT to read this author, even if you don't have, as i have, the miraculously intelligent Matthew G. as your instructor for Systems of Writing.
just an eensy weensy plug there.
read Tender Buttons. read The Making of Americans. you could read Three Lives, nobody's stopping you, it'll be ok, there are people in it which there really aren't in Tender Buttons, but it's not necessary.
i am having my first vegetable juice on the first spring day. the first spring day in Chicago is a sight to behold. the sun is on us, the people are smiling, the people are walking and smiling in the sun. i always thought that if i lived someplace where it was always sunny, like in California for example, that i would have terrible trouble and be depressed all the time, because seeing the sun would be nothing special.
so why am i blogging? because i am needing to work out a few things. Namely: why i don't do representational art, or art which might be seen as mass marketable, or even readily openable into most people's understanding, although my hope is that it does bleed around the edges into accessibility at moments. the reason is that i am trying to inhabit a moment and express that moment both at the same time. IT CAN'T BE DONE! this is what i am figuring out, in graduate school. things can emerge from me inhabiting a moment in certain ways, such as a photograph or a drawing can be the residue of that presence (which was Stein's ""continuous present" which her writing finally did manage to convey, exquisitely) BUT --and i run right up against this in trying to communicate the experience of birding to non-birders-- the moment itself is lost forever, along with whatever i was doing in it.
is any of this making any sense?
to me it does, because up to now, in all of my efforts to communicate ANYTHING to anyone--from screaming at a cop to leave the strikers alone, to hammering metal cups out of flat disks, to writing in my own diary--i've felt stymied by this disconnect. the failure of representation. i turned to art because i thought that language was the source of this failure. but i'm beginning to suspect that any tools will work, including language; it's just that we have to hit upon the right systems , the right conceptual framework, the right practice, which will yield an adequately intimate meeting between the present moment and our memory of, or feelings about, that moment.
11:03 AM :: ::
  • Thanks for the recommendation about Gertrude Stein, I'll definitely check her out. I rather agree with you that it is hard to communicate a moment while experiencing it. Your description of the problem reminded me of something I learned in science class -- the act of observing changes the observed. So, maybe we can never fully describe something because it will keep on changing :-) HOWEVER, I think your skills at communicating in writing are great, and I envy you for it!

    By Blogger Eva, at 6:38 AM  
  • I find that the more I'm living, the less I'm writing (note fallow blog this last week). Every language suffers shortcoming. It is the act of communication itself, which is so fraught with obstacles. and yet we try because trying is beautiful. Come back to spertus and visit again. The exhibit will mean a lot to you, I think. Oh and just the other day Len and I were talking about banal studies and I the idea of publishing little zines about every day objects ("clothes" "food" etc.) and I mentioned tender buttons and now that you've reminded me I know a re-read is long long overdue

    By Blogger Abbyg., at 5:58 PM  
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