Set 11, 2015

Notes on Gertrude Stein’s “Mutton,” Stanzas 1-6

A letter which can wither, a learning which can suffer and an outrage which is simultaneous is principal.

Student, students are merciful and recognised they chew something.

Hate rests that is solid and sparse and all in a shape and largely very largely. Interleaved and successive and a sample of smell all this makes a certainty a shade.

Light curls very light curls have no more curliness than soup. This is not a subject.

Change a single stream of denting and change it hurriedly, what does it express, it expresses nausea. Like a very strange likeness and pink, like that and not more like that than the same resemblance and not more like that than no middle space in cutting.

An eye glass, what is an eye glass, it is water. A splendid specimen, what is it when it is little and tender so that there are parts. A centre can place and four are no more and two and two are not middle.


*



Students figure in this discourse because they are... lambs? Sheep are saturated symbols (Bible, idiomatic expressions), and maybe the idea is to cut into it, find something new through the trademark multiperspectival Steinian take.

Light curls very light curls have no more curliness than soup. This is not a subject. 

The line could refer to the coat of the living sheep, the smoke of the soup, perhaps the baby curls on very young, impressionable kids. I'm thinking of light too, in the curvature of time-space the subject matter of Einstein.

Or light, perhaps, meaning perspectival lines? Perhaps she is cuing us (again, anew) how best to read her work, another, more intricate way of putting slant-of-light or angle or (much more contemporary) spin.

The last sentence is nice, approachable and forbidding all at once. Does it mean that we should not take her words academically? That she has some aversion to that? Or could she mean that light is to be seen as (or also as) adjective.

Or is "This" itself not a subject, esp a this that is itself, not taken to refer to anything except its placement?



"May" quite possibly, given what Peter says below about the "Mutton quad" (also Mutton = May + Button?). I've been looking at the letter M as well, how it places well with the line:

A centre can place and four are no more and two and two are not middle. 



I wonder if M is (also) the letter that can wither, as W could be its image if it withers (and vice versa). Seeing letters reflected in water now (or dissolving to it, or become liquid Dali-style), thanks to you.



Here's the basic mutton info, if needed. 




I think stanza 1 and the middle part of stanza 3 agrees with you. Stanza 5 very strongly:

Change a single stream of denting and change it hurriedly, what does it express, it expresses nausea (space, blankness?)... and not more like that than no middle space in cutting.





Student, students are merciful and recognised they chew something.

For some reason I have in mind bored students who would rather be passive than participate. Their physical (maybe also mental) activity goes to the chewing of gum, how to do it without teacher noticing (or off to the principal's office with you! Gum is not the subject.)






Pupils! Wow, of course! Here's some dilation for you...



And this eye + your post brings to mind such readings as this that we're doing. It's like Stein's looking at how closely she's writing this, how closely we'll (have to) look. And she's telegraphing from her desk to ours: "here's looking at you, kids!"