White Wines, a Three Act Play by Gertrude Stein

Literature

WHITE WINES
THREE ACTS

by

Gertrude Stein

(from Geography and Plays)

All together.
Witnesses.
House to house.
(5 women)

All together.

Cunning very cunning and cheap, at that rate a sale is a place to use type writing. Shall we go home.
Cunning, cunning, quite cunning, a block a strange block is filled with choking.
Not too cunning, not cunning enough for wit and a stroke and careless laughter, not cunning enough.
A pet, a winter pet and a summer pet and any kind of a pet, a whole waste of pets and no more hardly more than ever.
A touching spoon a real touching spoon is golden and show in that color. A really touching spoon is splendid, is splendid, and dark and is so nearly just right that there is no excuse.
The best way is to wave an arm, the best way is to show more used to it than could be expected.
Comfort a sudden way to go home, comfort that and the best way is known.

All together.

Hold hard in a decision about eyes. Hold the tongue in a sober value as to bunches. See the indication in all kinds of rigorous landscapes. Spell out what is to be expected.
Show much blame in order and all in there, show much blame when there is a breath in a flannel. Show the tongue strongly in eating. Puzzle anybody.
Violet and the ink and the old ulster, shut in trembling and a whole departure, flood the sunshine, terrorize the grown didy, mingle sweetness with communion.

All together.

Change the sucking with a little sucking.
Modify the brave gallant pin wheel. Show the shout, worry with wounds, love out what is a pendant and a choke and a dress in together.
Punish the grasshopper with needles and pins are plenty. Show the old chink.
All together.
Put the putty in before the door put the oil glass in with what is green. Put the mellow choice with all the test, rust with night and language in the waist. Praise the cat and show the twine the door, mention every scrap of linen carpet, see the eagle and behold the west, win the day light with the hat unpressed, show it in a shudder and a limp, make a best container with no speed, and a jacket and a choice and beets, beets are what there are when bets are less. Bets are less in summer.

Single Witnesses

(I). A spread out case is so personal it is a mountain of change and any little piece is personal, any one of them is an exchange. No forethought is removed. Nothing, hindrances, butter, a safe smooth, a safe why is a tongue a season, why is a loin large by way of spoiling. There is no cake in front. A choking is an example.

More witnesses.

It is true, it certainly is true and a coat any coat, any dress, all dress, a hat, many hats, all colors, every kind of coloring, all this makes shadows longer and birds, makes birds, just makes birds.
Not much limping is in the back, not much limping is in the front, not much limping is circular, a bosom, a candle, an elegant foot fall, all this makes daylight.

Single Witnesses.

(2). A blunder in a charger is blue. A high pocket not higher than the wrist and the elbow, the pocket is not added.
A clutch, a real clutch is merry and a joke and a baby, a real clutch is such a happy way. A real clutch is so soon worried so easily made the same, so soon made so.
A real white and blue, blue and blue, blue is raised by being so and more much more is ready. At last a person is safe.

More witnesses.

Pile in the windows, freeze with the doors, paint with the ceiling, shut in the floors, paint with the ceiling, paint with the doors, shut in the ceiling, shut out the doors, shut in the doors, shut in the floors, shut in the floors, shut in the doors.

More Witnesses.

Put the patient goat away, put the patient boat away, put away the boat and put it, the boat, put it, put away that boat. Put away the boat.

Single Witnesses.

(3). An army of invincible and ever ready mustaches and all the same mind and a way of winding and no more repertoire, not any more noise, this did increase every day.
A moon, a moon, a darkness and the stars and little bits of eels and a special sauce, not a very special sauce, not only that.
A wide pair that are not slippers, not a wide pair of slippers, not pressed to be any of that in that particular but surely, surely, surely a loan, surely every kind of a capital.

More Witnesses.

A splendid little charles louis philip, a splendid spout of little cups and colds, a splendid big stir, a splendid glass, a splendid little splinter, a splendid cluster.

Single Witnesses.

(4). Why should wet be that and cut, cut with the grass, why should wet be that and clut with the purse, why should wet be wet and the wet that wet. Why should wet be the time to class. Why should there be solemn cuppings.
The lean bark, that is the round and intense and common stop and in shouting, the left bark and the right bark and a belt, in that belt, in no belt and a corset, in a belt and chores, in a belt and single stitches, in more boys than enough, in all thin beer and in all such eggs, in all the pile and in all the bread, in the bread, in the bread, in the condition of pretty nearly saying that yesterday is today, and tomorrow, tomorrow is yesterday. The whole swindle is in short cake and choice cake is white cake and white cake is sponge cake and sponge cake is butter.

House to house.

(1). A habit that is not left by always screaming, a habit that is similar to the one that made quiet quite quiet and made the whole plain show dust and white birds and little plaintive drops of water, a habit which brightened the returning butter fly and the yellow weed and even tumbling, the habit which made a well choose the bottom and refuses all chances to change, the habit that cut in two whatever was for the use of the same number, the habit which credited a long touch with raising the table and the hour glass and even eye glasses and plenty of milk, the habit which made a little piece of cheese wholesome and darkness bitter and clanging a simple way to be solemn, a habit which has the best situation and nearly all the day break and the darkness a habit that is cautious and serious and strange and violent and even a little disturbed, a habit which is better than almost anything, a habit that is so little irritating, so wondering and so unlikely is not more difficult than every other.
(2). A change a real change is made by a piece, by any piece by a whole mixture of words and likenesses and whole outlines and ranges, a change is a butt and a wagon and an institution, a change is a sweetness and a leaning and a bundle, a change is no touch and buzzing and cruelty, a change is no darkness and swinging and highness, a change is no season and winter and leaving, a change is no stage and blister and column, a change is no black and silver and copper, a change is no jelly and anything proper, a change is not place, a change is not church, a change is not more clad, a change is not more in between when there is that and the change is the kind and the king is the king and the king is the king and the king is the king.
(3). Could there be the best almost could there be almost the most, could there be almost almost, could there be the most almost. Could there be the most almost, could there be the most almost, could there be almost almost. Could there be almost, almost.
Can the stretch have any choice, can the choice have every chunk, can the choice have all the choice, can the stretch have in the choice. Can there be water, can there be water and water. Can there be water. Can there be.
(4). A cousin to cooning, a cousin to that and mixed labor and a strange orange and a height and a piece of holy phone and a catching hat glass and a bit of undertaking. All this makes willows and even then there is no use in dusting not in really redusting, not in really taking everything away. The best excuse for shadows is in the time when white is starched and hair is released and all the old clothes are in the best bag.

House to house.

A wet hurt and a yellow stain and a high wind and a color stone, a place in and the whole real set all this and each one has a chin. This is not a claim it is a reorganization and a balance and a return.

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The center of the self is this secret, obsessive, often silly, nearly continuous voice (William H. Gass)

Literature

Yet I should like to suggest (despite the undeniable sappiness of it) that the center of the self is this secret, obsessive, often silly, nearly continuous voice – the voice that is the surest sign that we are alive; and that one fundamental function of language is the communication with this self which makes it feasible; that, in fact, without someone speaking, someone hearing, someone overhearing both, no full self can exist; that if society – its families and factories and congresses and schools – has done its work, then every day every one of us is a bit nearer than we were before to being one of the fortunates who have made rich and beautiful the great conversation which constitutes our life.

From William H. Gass’s essay “On Talking to Oneself” (collected in Habitations of the Word).

“The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio” — Ernest Hemingway

Literature

“The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio”

by

Ernest Hemingway

THEY brought them in around midnight and then, all night long, everyone along the corridor heard the Russian.
‘Where is he shot?’ Mr. Frazer asked the night nurse.

‘In the thigh, I think.’
‘What about the other one?’
‘Oh, he’s going to die, I’m afraid.’
‘Where is he shot?’
‘Twice in the abdomen. They only found one of the bullets.’

They were both beet workers, a Mexican and a Russian, and they were sitting drinking coffee in an all-night restaurant when someone came in the door and started shooting at the Mexican. The Russian crawled under a table and was hit, finally, by a stray shot fired at the Mexican as he lay on the floor with two bullets in his abdomen. That was what the paper said.

The Mexican told the police he had no idea who shot him.
He believed it to be an accident.

‘An accident that he fired eight shots at you and hit you twice, there?’
‘Si, señor,’ said the Mexican, who was named Cayetano Ruiz, ‘An accident that he hit me at all, the cabron,’ he said to the interpreter.
‘What does he say?’ asked the detective sergeant, looking across the bed at the interpreter.
‘He says it was an accident.’
‘Tell him to tell the truth, that he is going to die,’ the detective said.
‘Na,’ said Cayetano. ‘But tell him that I feel very sick and would prefer not to talk so much.’
‘He says that he is telling the truth,’ the interpreter said.
Then, speaking confidently, to the detective, ‘He don’t know who shot him. They shot him in the back.’
‘Yes,’ said the detective. ‘I understand that, but why did the bullets all go in the front?’
‘Maybe he is spinning around,’ said the interpreter.
‘Listen,’ said the detective, shaking his finger almost at Cayetano’s nose, which projected, waxen yellow, from his dead-man’s face in which his eyes were alive as a hawk’s, ‘I don’t give a damn who shot you, but I’ve got to clear this thing up. Don’t you want the man who shot you to be punished? Tell him that,’ he said to the interpreter.
‘He says to tell who shot you.’
‘Mandarlo al carajo,’ said Cayetano, who was very tired.
‘He says he never saw the fellow at all,’ the interpreter said. ‘I tell you straight they shot him in the back.’
‘Ask him who shot the Russian.’
‘Poor Russian,’ said Cayetano. ‘He was on the floor with his head enveloped in his arms. He started to give cries when they shoot him and he is giving cries ever since. Poor Russian.’
‘He says some fellow that he doesn’t know. Maybe the same fellow that shot him.’
‘Listen,’ the detective said. ‘This isn’t Chicago. You’re not a gangster. You don’t have to act like a moving picture. It’s all right to tell who shot you. Anybody would tell who shot them. That’s all right to do. Suppose you don’t tell who he is and he shoots somebody else. Suppose he shoots a woman or a child. You can’t let him get away with that. You tell him,’ he said to Mr. Frazer. ‘I don’t trust that damn interpreter.’
‘I am very reliable,’ the interpreter said. Cayetano looked at Mr. Frazer.
‘Listen, amigo,’ said Mr. Frazer. ‘The policeman says that we are not in Chicago but in Hailey, Montana. You are not a bandit and this has nothing to do with the cinema.’
‘I believe him,’ said Cayetano softly. ‘Ya lo creo.’
‘One can, with honour, denounce one’s assailant. Every one does it here, he says. He says what happens if after shooting you, this man shoots a woman or a child?’
‘I am not married,’ Cayetano said.
‘He says any woman, any child.’
‘The man is not crazy,’ Cayetano said.
‘He says you should denounce him,’ Mr. Frazer finished.
‘Thank you,’ Cayetano said. ‘You are of the great translators. I speak English, but badly. I understand it all right. How did you break your leg?’
‘A fall off a horse.’
‘What bad luck. I am very sorry. Does it hurt much?’
‘Not now. At first, yes.’
‘Listen, amigo,’ Cayetano began, ‘I am very weak. You will pardon me. Also I have much pain; enough pain. It is very possible that I die. Please get this policeman out of here because I am very tired.’ He made as though to roll to one side; then held himself still.
‘I told him everything exactly as you said and he said to tell you, truly, that he doesn’t know who shot him and that he is very weak and wishes you would question him later on,’ Mr. Frazer said.
‘He’ll probably be dead later on.’
‘That’s quite possible.’
‘That’s why I want to question him now.’
‘Somebody shot him in the back, I tell you,’ the interpreter said.
‘Oh, for Chrisake,’ the detective sergeant said, and put his notebook in his pocket.
Outside in the corridor the detective sergeant stood with the interpreter beside Mr. Frazer’s wheeled chair.
‘I suppose you think somebody shot him in the back too?’
‘Yes,’ Frazer said. ‘Somebody shot him in the back. What’s it to you?’
‘Don’t get sore,’ the sergeant said. ‘I wish I could talk spick.’
‘Why don’t you learn?’
‘You don’t have to get sore. I don’t get any fun out of asking that spick question. If I could talk spick it would be different.’
‘You don’t need to talk Spanish,’ the interpreter said. ‘I’m a very reliable interpreter.’
‘Oh, for Chrisake,’ the sergeant said. ‘Well, so long. I’ll come up and see you.’
‘Thanks. I’m always in.’
‘I guess you are all right. That was bad luck all right. Plenty bad luck.’
‘It’s coming along good now since he spliced the bone.’
‘Yes, but it’s a long time. A long, long time.’
‘Don’t let anybody shoot you in the back.’
‘That’s right,’ he said. ‘That’s right. Well, I’m glad you’re not sore.’
‘So long,’ said Mr. Frazer.

Mr. Frazer did not see Cayetano again for a long time, but each morning Sister Cecilia brought news of him. He was so uncomplaining she said and he was very bad now. He had peritonitis and they thought he could not live. Poor Cayetano, she said. He had such beautiful hands and such a fine face and he never complains. The odour, now, was really terrific. He would point toward his nose with one finger and smile and shake his head, she said. He felt badly about the odour. It embarrassed him, Sister Cecilia said. Oh, he was such a fine patient. He always smiled. He wouldn’t go to confession to Father but he promised to say his prayers, and not a Mexican had been to see him since he had been brought in. The Russian was going out at the end of the week. I could never feel anything about the Russian, Sister Cecilia said. Poor fellow, he suffered too. It was a greased bullet and dirty and the wound infected, but he made so much noise and then I always like the bad ones. That Cayetano, he’s a bad one. Oh, he must really be a bad one, a thoroughly bad one, he’s so fine and delicately made and he’s never done any work with his hands. He’s not a beet worker. I know he’s not a beet worker. His hands are as smooth and not a callous on them. I know he’s a bad one of some sort. I’m going down and pray for him now. Poor Cayetano, he’s having a dreadful time and he doesn’t make a sound. What did they have to shoot him for? Oh, that poor Cayetano! I’m going right down and pray for him.
She went right down and prayed for him.

A Conversation about Ben Lerner’s Novel 10:04 (Part 1)

Books, Literature

1004

[Context/editorial note: Ben Lerner's new novel 10:04 wasn't on my radar until Ryan Chang, who has been contributing reviews, riffs, citations, and other good stuff to this blog for the some time now, brought it up. He digs it, I don't---but in fairness, I haven't finished it yet. I was determined to abandon it, but Ryan's emails kept me interested enough to continue; our conversation of the past five days is presented below. The book frustrates and rewards; at times I've laughed out loud and at other moments I've sprained my eyeballs by rolling them. More to come, because this is pretty long---but I think Ryan, who offers the bulk of the analysis here, makes a strong case for Lerner's book. -- ET].   

Edwin Turner: Got an e-galley of the Lerner book. I don’t know if it’s that I’m almost exactly the same age as Lerner/the narrator or what, but I really really hate it so far! He’s very smart and the sentences are often great, but I find myself rolling my eyes at a lot of what he’s doing—it’s probably me not him. The narrative voice strikes me as so thoroughly inauthentic that I want to grab the narrator by the lapels and shout, Quit aping Sebald, quit trying to show how clever you are, and just observe and report! Again, it’s probably me not him.

Ryan Chang: I know what you mean; though it won’t bear any difference to your reading, I can attest personally to the diction & syntax of the narrator and Lerner himself (indeed, he does speak like that). I don’t think it’s an affectation, but I think it’s real “poet-y.” It is a criticism I forgive b/c I see that the tension between authenticity (of time) and inauthenticity (of time; especially exemplified in the Whole Foods/Instant coffee scene — which narrative context of time determines the Real, the Market (or its interpretation of Universal time) or our intuition (something like Whitmanic time, where time is experienced not on a linear, progressive plane but a circular, lateral one?)) is a crucial thread that runs throughout 10:04 and in Lerner’s other work. That said, I know  that in reviews to come of the book he’ll get slammed for that (I think the Kirkus review already did this).

A lot of my friends echo your distaste for Lerner for those exact same reasons, and I totally see why, and I’m kind of annoyed by it too. For me, the success of the book lies in the reclamation of fiction as a communal space from fetish book object/commercial futurity (author advances, agents, contracts, etc. — you already get some of this early on but there is more to come in a beautifully scathing scene of the NYC literary scene) And also, a kind of shiv to the Standard American Novelistic Form that reinforces traditional forms of American identity-making that Gass/Gaddis/Markson et al. have been doing for years and, I think, a poisonous strain of American political sentimentality that keeps most of us “depressed.” I think, too, because I’ve read it twice now, that there is an acknowledgment of his complicity in the very machines he participates in, and an inability, at least on his own, to dismantle those systems. Not sure if we should forgive him for criticizing the bourgeois Food Co-Op while being a member, albeit begrudgingly or tolerate his admission. There’s a lot of celebration of Whitmanic politics in that book, a return to a kind of Whitmanic democratic person is a return to a democratic reading is a return to a “real” democracy shared through the space of the book, of the position of the reader looking at an object and knowing that her “I” is shared amongst several. I’m not sure if you’ve gotten here yet, but he keeps intoning this phrase “bad forms of collectivity” as a better solution than nothing, than “modernist difficulty as resistance to the market.”

The Sebald comparison is apt, esp. with the form & diction & syntax, and I agree with you–Sebald is the master. There’s also something to be said, though, that this kind of fiction-making is badly needed in contemporary American letters on the Big 5 Publishing scene. I mean, I can’t read another fucking book about Brooklyn parents or mid-career Manhattan artist crises without wringing my neck. The kind of book Sebald innovated, too, is able to dismantle received ideas of art/history/writing/identity etc.;  I may be being too generous here, but I think it’s a form that will see continued adoption on this side of the pond.

ET: So your response made me return to the book, Ryan. The line that made me quit was something like, “The place was so quiet I could hear the bartender mixing our artisanal cocktails” or something like that—-I’m still not sure how to read that line as anything but a parody, but I think that the narrator, author, and writer are all sincere in trying to capture or document a particular time/feeling with the phrase. And as I continued reading, I was rewarded by the episode of the older poets/mentors, and their “daughter,” whom the narrator obsessed over—a very fine passage—humorous, reflective, a kind of parodic-but-sincere take on wanting to belong to a particular artistic scene. (What continues to unsettle me is the narrator’s assurance of his own achievement, although I could be wrong).