Set 10, 2015

Notes on Gertrude Stein’s “Roastbeef,” Stanzas 22-37

Claiming nothing, not claiming anything, not a claim in everything, collecting claiming, all this makes a harmony, it even makes a succession.

Sincerely gracious one morning, sincerely graciously trembling, sincere in gracious eloping, all this makes a furnace and a blanket. All this shows quantity.

Like an eye, not so much more, not any searching, no compliments.

Please be the beef, please beef, pleasure is not wailing. Please beef, please be carved clear, please be a case of consideration.

Search a neglect. A sale, any greatness is a stall and there is no memory, there is no clear collection.

A satin sight, what is a trick, no trick is mountainous and the color, all the rush is in the blood.

Bargaining for a little, bargain for a touch, a liberty, an estrangement, a characteristic turkey.

Please spice, please no name, place a whole weight, sink into a standard rising, raise a circle, choose a right around, make the resonance accounted and gather green any collar.

To bury a slender chicken, to raise an old feather, to surround a garland and to bake a pole splinter, to suggest a repose and to settle simply, to surrender one another, to succeed saving simpler, to satisfy a singularity and not to be blinder, to sugar nothing darker and to read redder, to have the color better, to sort out dinner, to remain together, to surprise no sinner, to curve nothing sweeter, to continue thinner, to increase in resting recreation to design string not dimmer.

Cloudiness what is cloudiness, is it a lining, is it a roll, is it melting.

The sooner there is jerking, the sooner freshness is tender, the sooner the round it is not round the sooner it is withdrawn in cutting, the sooner the measure means service, the sooner there is chinking, the sooner there is sadder than salad, the sooner there is none do her, the sooner there is no choice, the sooner there is a gloom freer, the same sooner and more sooner, this is no error in hurry and in pressure and in opposition to consideration.

A recital, what is a recital, it is an organ and use does not strengthen valor, it soothes medicine.

A transfer, a large transfer, a little transfer, some transfer, clouds and tracks do transfer, a transfer is not neglected.

Pride, when is there perfect pretence, there is no more than yesterday and ordinary.

A sentence of a vagueness that is violence is authority and a mission and stumbling and also certainly also a prison. Calmness, calm is beside the plate and in way in. There is no turn in terror. There is no volume in sound.

There is coagulation in cold and there is none in prudence. Something is preserved and the evening is long and the colder spring has sudden shadows in a sun. All the stain is tender and lilacs really lilacs are disturbed. Why is the perfect reestablishment practiced and prized, why is it composed. The result the pure result is juice and size and baking and exhibition and nonchalance and sacrifice and volume and a section in division and the surrounding recognition and horticulture and no murmur. This is a result. There is no superposition and circumstance, there is hardness and a reason and the rest and remainder. There is no delight and no mathematics.


*



The sound of collard greens at 29, "gather green any collar": might this be gathering people of any stripe? Or, both the blue- and the white-collared workers. As if everyone is invited to the same table for the same meal.



And thanks for organizing us!



Search a neglect. A sale, any greatness is a stall and there is no memory, there is no clear collection.

"Search a neglect" sounds like fault-finding, and that process spills over to the market place. Where one finds food, I suppose. And greatness... where one finds ideas? From the quotidian and the "neglected" details of everyday life, maybe.

"Collection" has been repeated, and here, working as it does with "memory" and "clear" seems to suggest the word "recollection". But this is the first instance, where memory is being made.





Thanks for this link, and wow, congrats on that New Year's Day publication.





"Claims" are also verbal, poetic acts. That sense could be at play here too, how this production of sound and play not merely a process of cooking but also consumption. Maybe in the sense that the performance at the dining table (conversation, eating) forecasts the events of the bed.






Bargaining for a little, bargain for a touch, a liberty, an estrangement, a characteristic turkey.

The "characteristic turkey" (just the sound of that!) follows "an estrangement" which seem to me also a formal estrangement, the cadence and feel (and type) of the first four suddenly thrown off by her pièce de résistance.





I don't think the reference to genitalia is at all out of place, and I'm glad you brought it up. And it's "characteristic": so maybe the male presence was perceived as an inevitable, tolerable intrusion or something of a threat in the space between Stein and her lover.




So maybe it's beef vs turkey (at some point), about which of the plates will take the table, and that it could also be a question of identity if not politics (and maybe economics, as it "bargains for a touch").








Looking also at a, b, c, d, definitions, as I feel that the words "sinking" and "rise" put so close to "standard" tends toward that image of a flag maybe in the context of a conquest, a contest, a demarcation of territory.

Please be the beef, please beef, pleasure is not wailing. 

Hm. Hysterics does not a poem make? Is this a call for substance? But if we're looking at the processing of food, wailing would happen maybe as animal becomes beef. Or if the cook or butcher is injured in some way? Could it also occur while consuming, eating? Or afterwards?



I only had a vague idea of what kosher is, much less how it's done. This connection is indeed fertile: the idea of "pleasing" the beef is there, of somehow easing the living animal into the state of death, preparing it (and ritual participants too, I think) for food and what it means, what it means to take something like this on the table, into the self.







Cloudiness what is cloudiness, is it a lining, is it a roll, is it melting.

Stanza 31 plays with several things at once. There's the silver lining and the rolling of thunder among others. Melting... could that be rain? Such a painterly way of putting it.

It's all of a single line (lining?), perhaps a lesson on evocation, that you need only see (lining), hear (roll), and feel (melting) certain select details to account for the whole sky. It begins and returns to taste: the cloudiness of the gravy or soup maybe, the roll on the side, the butter.




Lunch time here so I can imagine some sort of lining with pastries and cakes. Maybe the side dishes "line" the entree, or the dishes are lined-up, or it's yes silver, a literal lining along the edges of the plate.




Dirty silverware? On to 33...

A recital, what is a recital, it is an organ and use does not strengthen valor, it soothes medicine.

I imagine someone playing music at meal time, Christmas or New Year. That curious ending sounds to me like "preaching to the choir," or how artists (or those with an artistic temperament or tendency) are the only ones to ever "get" other artists.



I've been reading some Barthelme, and his view of Stein (alongside Joyce) sounded perfect: that she is party to making an object out of literature, that is not about something but a thing-in-itself "like a rock or a refrigerator." The recital and organ do not merely accompany each other, they are same, solid, able to produce music. And this music, her music, it does not serve catharsis is the old Greek sense, but by reviving the language itself, by soothing the "medicine."










The word "increase" here and the context of your discussion makes me think that they're trying for a relationship were both individuals are freed rather than restricted, the "string" thus being redesigned for their intents. As for 34...

A transfer, a large transfer, a little transfer, some transfer, clouds and tracks do transfer, a transfer is not neglected.

In terms of food, clouds seem to me steam, also the dimming of the clear liquid as it becomes broth. Heat transfer has ever defined the process of cooking, a central consideration when living off the land. Tracks are more difficult in this level. But if I'm following the Karren's reading of the pioneer-in-Stein, then there's the possibility of seeing a dynamic process (collecting firewood, butchering, going to the market) making possible a couple of hours of cooking, standing in more or less the same spot and just cooking. All those errands are in that pot. And later, in the stomach.

Unburdening? An emotional, physical connection? These are here.

Conversation too. And the poem itself as a transfer, even the misreadings, all of that is communicated, assimilated (even if only a little), proven indelible.



That would be a great connection to make, and I'd love to think that... whether it's there or not. I'm trying to remember Macbeth, him trying to squeeze some clarity from the witches. I'm seeing Stein's 'cloudiness' as important, vital, even if the brew (and the words) of the witches were necessarily 'cloudy'. Macbeth would project his longings into the words, seeing what he wanted to see and establishing a set of plans upon that vision. If Stein is making spells for us here, it seems the acceptable reader-position is that of the Thane of Glamis.