What Is Gertrude Stein Talking About?

Provoked by the fascinating Ken Burns series “Hemingway” now on PBS I’ve been trying to understand Gertrude Stein. She wrote this, what does it mean?

“Callous is something that hardening leaves behind what will be soft if there is a genuine interest in there being present as many girls as men. Does this change. It shows that dirt is clean when there is a volume.

A cushion has that cover. Supposing you do not like to change, supposing it is very clean that there is no change in appearance, supposing that there is regularity and a costume is that any the worse than an oyster and an exchange. Come to season that is there any extreme use in feather and cotton. Is there not much more joy in a table and more chairs and very likely roundness and a place to put them.

A circle of fine card board and a chance to see a tassel.”

gertrude-stein-with-her-portrait.jpg (668×495)

Author: craigcrawford

Trail Mix Host

46 thoughts on “What Is Gertrude Stein Talking About?”

  1. I think she meant a rose is a rose is a rose.

    But I’m not sure.

    Back in the seventies when I was deep diving into the world of Hemingway, I finally reached the conclusions that while Joyce was artful and deep, Stein was just fulla shit. I have met folks who think I’m wrong about that.

  2. I was with her to “is” in the first sentence. After that, not so much. 

    Just read Wapo’s article On the NRA bankruptcy case that’s proceeding right now. Wayne Lapierre is such a fucking asshole. There is no penalty in the bankruptcy code severe enough for LaPierre and his actions to enrich himself off the idiots who he got to donate to the NRA over the last several years. I hope there’s some criminal action pending out there that’s gonna snag his ass and throw him in jail for a few years.

  3. old hemmingway/stein joke by woody

    a commenter david karner posted about above bit:

    The rest of this bit goes… “Then the war came. Hemingway went off to Africa to fight… Gertrude Stein moved in with Alice B. Toklas… and I went to New York to see my orthodontist.”

  4. Vonnegut wrote a play which satirized Hemingway……..”Happy Birthday, Wanda June”.

  5. BiD, marketwatch re J&J

    Dr. Anthony Fauci has urged Americans not to turn their nose up at the COVID-19 vaccine they’re offered, and said all three vaccines currently available to Americans are “highly efficacious” in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
    The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said people should take the single-shot Johnson & Johnson  COVID-19 vaccine if that’s what they are offered. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, the veteran immunologist said, “If you look at the efficacy against severe disease, it’s greater than 85%, and there’s been no hospitalizations or deaths in multiple countries, even in countries that have the variants.”
    People are not given a choice between vaccines, but have raised questions about the different efficacy rates. “Be careful when you try to parse this percent versus that percent,” Fauci added. “The only way you know one versus the other is if you compare them head-to-head, and they were not compared head-to-head. They were compared under different circumstances. All three of them are really quite good, and people should take the one that’s most available today.”
    “I think people need to get vaccinated as quickly, and as expeditiously, possible,” Fauci said. “I would go to a place that had J&J. I would have no hesitancy whatsoever to take it.”


    but then what does he know…   🙂

  6. I watched last night’s Hemingway – had seen a bit of the first couple of episodes.  Insanely good biographical production.  That Burns fellow knows a thing or two about producing nonfiction films.  Funny, but other than Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Old Man and the Sea, I never really got into Hemingway.  Later during a break from sailing boats up and down the Maine coast I read The Sun also Rises because it was lying around in the Hurricane Island “library”.  Liked his writing, but it didn’t hook me. 
    Back in the 60s I was too full of sports and hormones to care about or even notice much about what was going on outside my high school existence – except for the racial things going on and VN, both of which were unavoidable.  Hit college in 70 and started paying a bit more attention, but never got into Gertrude.  My introduction to modern fiction was Vonnegut in about 1971.  Read Slaughterhouse Five and Welcome to the Monkey House and was immediately hooked. Read Breakfast of Champions as soon as it hit the shelves and read everything he wrote over the next 10 or so years and went back and read some of his older stuff as well.  

  7. Poobah, no, Hemingway was a bit of a jerk in his personal life, and was very fucked up toward the end of it.  But then again most people with mental illness who end up killing themselves aren’t the people you’d generally choose as a next door neighbor.

  8. Almost back to the world we once knew.  Kentucky Derby will race on May 1.  The top 20 horses are as follows:

    01.  Essential Quality 

    02. Hot Rod Charlie 

    03. Like the King 

    04. Known Agenda 

    05. Rock Your World 

    06. Bourbonic 

    07. Medina Spirit 

    08. Midnight Bourbon 

    09. Weyburn 

    10. Mendaloun 

    11. Concert Tour 

    12. Highly Motivated 

    13. Helium 

    14. Panadol 

    15. Soup and Sandwich 

    16. Dynamic One 

    17 Crowded Trade 

    18. Sainthood 

    19. Rombauer 

    20. Proxy 

  9. Patd

    “There is no there there” is about you can’t go back again.  The past is only alive in your memories of the past.  It was engendered by her trip back to Oakland after decades of absence and not being able to recognize anything as she remembered it.


  10. Woody Allen did one of his better movies (for me meaning he wasn’t in it):  Midnight in Paris.

    It was a time travel bit with his main character being transported back to the era of Hemingway and Stein.  Only draw back was that this character was a whiny Allen clone which was the only flaw in an otherwise excellent film


  11. I have never cared for any philosophical writings.  I never cared for questioning mans inhumanity to man persuasions.  A scientific journal, yes.  Technical writings concerning computer operating systems, yes.  Techniques used by Weston and Adams, especially their writings, yes.  It was horrible in school because I did not care for the class reading lists unless it was in science courses.  Cliff notes came out towards the end of my classroom world and those did little to help raise my desire to read the “classics”.  I do enjoy a murder mystery, something to match my brain to that of the sleuth.  A good spy novel can be the same.  But give me the operating manual for some weird, and complex, machine and I am enthralled.

  12. What does that mean?….  I’m not sure either…  but I like Sturg’s answer.
    Haven’t watched any of the Hemingway production….   my bad.  I’ve read a few of his works…  and books about him.  He obviously was a drunkard…  and a misogynist.  He’s been described as “a man’s man”.  There seems to be a flurry of interest in him and his Paris co-horts in the past several years.  Ken Burns is the latest to jump on that bandwagon…  although I like his stuff.  As an aside… drove through Burns’ hometown on our way to get our covid vaccines. 

  13. Hem definitely was under fbi surveillance ( i.e not hallucinating );  and at some point underwent a bunch of godawful shock treatments.   He was ruirnt.   Having read so much of him and so much about him I just kinda see him as I get where he’s coming from and I feel free to enjoy the enjoyable parts and don’t have to sweat the rest.  I remember first ever hearing his name on the radio in our kitchen listening to the news that morning that he had killed himself in Idaho somewhere…….July 2, 1961. come to find he’d shot himself with a shotgun.   Guess I was 13 and just kinda wondered wtf is THAT all about?    I mean, we had a shotgun, and I had fired that shotgun, and was well aware of what the hell that would do to somebody.

  14. Maybe being intentionally cryptic was her brand.  That probably got her a lot of attention (trying to decipher it) from a certain crowd. 

  15. Is there genuine interest in equality?  If everyone/everything is the same, then even dirt would be clean if there was no differentiation between dirt and anything else.  Something about men and women all being/acting/looking alike.  Boring sameness. The more, the merrier/viva la difference.

    That’s what I get, but it’s hard to grasp anything with much confidence.

  16. Never cared for Hemingway, starting with  The Old Man and the Sea in grade nine. There was a short story called, “Hills Like White Elephants.” It was a terribly depressing thing, and, I don’t remember there being any dialogue between the characters, yet everything was said.  He was a talented writer/unique style, but I just didn’t care for the subject matter or tone. 
    Give me Vonnegut. 

  17. I’m not a Ken Burns fan. I find his documentaries to be shallow and often more nostalgic than accurate. In other words perfect for fund raising week on PBS.
    As for Hemmingway, I enjoyed his stuff when I was a teenager/twentysomething. But I tried to reread one of his war novels 10 years ago and found it unreadable. 
    As a teen, I worried like Hemmingway did about what made a man. As an adult I’ve moved beyond that problem.
    But I still enjoy Steinbeck, he is about the only one from that era that I reread.
    And yeah, Vonnegut and Heller beat them all.

  18. Ya know, sometimes being a lawyer is a blessing (at least I hear that) and sometimes it’s a curse.  I was reading through the WaPo Recap of the Chauvin trial from yesterday and saw this.

    Chauvin’s defense also argued that Floyd saying, “I can’t breathe,” while officers attempted to put him in a squad car was a form of resisting arrest.”

    Really, that’s part of their argument? Now, I’m no Clarence Darrow or anything, but that strikes me as just STUPID.   And there was also this.

    Much of the defense’s case Wednesday focused on the environment around Cup Foods and Floyd’s history of drug use. At multiple points during cross-examination, Chauvin attorney Eric J. Nelson pressed Stiger and James Reyerson, a senior special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, about the attorney’s claim that Floyd could be heard on body-cam footage saying, “I ate too many drugs.” But when prosecutors played the clip again for Reyerson, the BCA official agreed with the prosecution that Floyd appeared to say, “I ain’t do no drugs.”

    I used to do trial work in front of juries, and the first thing that I learned about trial advocacy in front of juries it that you have to win their trust through being credible and not lying to them or overreaching.  That there is a great example of overreach if not outright lying.  That kind of stuff coupled with today’s testimony of an unpaid expert witness on breathing is very strong evidence against ol’ Derek.

    Testimony in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continued Thursday with a breathing expert saying that George Floyd died due to a “low level of oxygen” that caused brain damage, rebuking the defense’s argument that drugs contributed to Floyd’s death. Martin Tobin, a pulmonologist and national breathing expert from Hines, Ill., offered testimony as an unpaid witness that Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck for the “vast majority of the time” and that the pain from the pressure applied by the officer to Floyd was comparable to that of a surgery to remove a lung.

    Prosecution seems to be digging a deep hole for the defense, and while Nelson strikes me as a pretty good trial lawyer, not sure he’s got a tall enough ladder to get Chauvin out of that hole.

  19. I love Steinbeck…  I also love Vonnegut.
    For Vonnegut lovers…  I highly recommend his biography which came out a few years ago:  “And So It Goes : Kurt Vonnegut, a Life.

  20. Piece of good news among the bad re: Covid – since March 28 the death rate in the us has dropped 27% 0 from 1032 to 757 (rolling 7 day average).  Bad news is that over the same period number of cases has risen 7%, and historically death has been a lagging indicator.  

  21. jamie, thanks for the backstory on gertie’s “There is no there there” which was exactly the way i felt going back after several years to see what happened to a once beautiful florida town i lived in.

    actually, the “There is no there there”  comment was posted as an answer to fearless leader’s thread question.  her “there ain’t no answer…” quote is another way of looking at what seems to be playful jibberish to entertain her salon. 

  22. Yes, Steinbeck.  Love his work, but I really credit him with the John Ford directed Grapes of Wrath that really put Henry Fonda on the acting map.  I’ve seen a couple or three of his earlier movies and a slew of his later ones, but Grapes of Wrath for my money was his best work.

  23. I think Gertie just loved words in whatever order she found them.  She certainly appreciated Hemingway’s androgyny.  She had one of the few places he could express it amid all the tall tales he told of being a man’s man.

    Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein: Experiment in Cubist Poetry, or Literary  Prank?


  24. There is no there there – oh how true.  That one hit home when I went back to take a look at my old high school some 40 years after I graduated and the round school I went to had been bulldozed and replaced with a rectangular one. Still don’t understand that since it was built when I was starting high school in 1966.  Irony is that for the first half of my freshman year we attended classes in classrooms under the bleachers of the stadium at the high school my parents attended and graduated from in 1944 & 45. That high school and the stadium are still there.  i guess the old saw that they don’t build them like they used to has a grain of truth in it.

  25. Poobah, all I, OK all Gaetz can say is ruh-roh. That boy’s future just dimmed dramatically.😆😂🤣

  26. allen w is somebody else hopefully that will flip once this treasure trove gets looked at

    Investigators seize evidence from Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg’s former daughter-in-law – The Washington Post

    The move by District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. appears to be the latest sign that Allen Weisselberg, the company’s highest-ranking corporate officer who is not a member of the Trump family, is a key focus of the ongoing criminal probe into former president Donald Trump’s financial dealings.
    The subpoena, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, ordered Jennifer Weisselberg to produce all of the records she possesses for her ex-husband’s bank accounts and credit cards plus his statements of net worth and tax filings. Barry Weisselberg is a Trump Organization employee and manages an ice rink for the company in Manhattan’s Central Park. The subpoena asks specifically for records related to the Trump Organization and Wollman Rink.
    “My knowledge of the documents and my voice connect the flow of money from various banks and from personal finances that bleed directly into the Trump Organization,” she said in an interview Thursday. Investigators, she added, now have her ex-husband’s 2019 and 2020 statements of net worth, his tax returns and copies of Wollman Rink checks from private events that she claims were deposited incorrectly.

  27. kind of partial to Tortilla Flats, Sweet Thursday, Cannery Row,  and Travels with Charlie……..but it was all good

  28. this must be why marlette depicted gaetz being hung out to dry by fox

    from forbes

    Before the reports of the investigation, rumors emerged that Gaetz was in talks to leave Congress and take a job with either Fox, Newsmax or One America News Network.

    Fox said Thursday—after his appearance on Carlson’s show—it had “no interest” in hiring him, and a Fox News spokesperson referred Forbes to prior comments that the network had no interest in hiring Gaetz when asked for comment.

  29. Greenberg attorney Fritz Scheller to reporters after Orlando hearing didn’t confirm cooperation but said: “I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today”

  30. …pretty sure that people with long, drawn-out rationalizations about waiting for the ideal circumstances to get the ideal shot are just afraid of vaccination, in general, and likely plan on not getting a vaccine, at all, but are afraid to admit it.  No amount of reason, facts, or data will convince them

  31. Bink,
    And the question.
    Did covid make them crazy or is the fact that they are nutball crazy the reason they caught covid. ?
    so there is co-relation but was there proof of causation?
    inquiring minds……

  32. i did read the “Gertrude Stein” wiki before commenting, had nothing to add in that regard🤷‍♂️

    Also, “Old Man and the Sea” was probably the first book i read, cover to cover, in one sitting, as a youth; blew my impressionable mind🤯

    Furthermore, i’ve rediscovered a place for the oft but what i now consider to be unfairly maligned semi-colon in my writing

    As an addendum, i’m in the process of reassessing my relationship with the period, in this age of “emoticons”🤔

  33. A tiny, wobbling muon just shook particle physics to its core (msn.com)

    Evidence taken from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago appears to point to a miniscule subatomic particle known as the muon wobbling far more than theory predicts it should. The best explanation, according to physicists, is that the muon is being pushed about by types of matter and energy completely unknown to physics.

    If the results are true, the discovery represents a breakthrough in particle physics of a kind that hasn’t been seen for 50 years, when the dominant theory to explain subatomic particles was first developed. The teeny-tiny wobble of the muon — created by the interaction of its intrinsic magnetic field, or magnetic moment, with an external magnetic field — could shake the very foundations of science. 


    Sometimes known as “fat electrons,” muons are similar to their more widely-known cousins but are 200 times heavier and radioactively unstable — decaying in mere millionths of a second into electrons and tiny, ghostly, chargeless particles known as neutrinos. Muons also have a property called spin which, when combined with their charge, makes them behave as if they were tiny magnets, causing them to wobble like little gyroscopes when plopped inside a magnetic field.

    But today’s results, which came from an experiment in which physicists sent muons whizzing around a superconducting magnetic ring, seem to show that the muon is wobbling far more than it should be. The only explanation, the study scientists said, is the existence of particles not yet accounted for by the set of equations that explain all subatomic particles, called the Standard Model — which has remained unchanged since the mid-1970s. Those exotic particles and the associated energies, the idea goes, would be nudging and tugging at the muons inside the ring.

    The Fermilab researchers are relatively confident that what they saw (the extra wobbling) was a real phenomenon and not some statistical fluke.


  34. That muon article is just fascinating. RW evangelicals’ heads would explode if they knew what the hell it means. Here’s a hint – it means we don’t know shit.

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