So we're now, unfortunately, I'd like to do a whole ten weeks on the Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven, but we we can't do it. >> [LAUGH] >> That is a fake name, right? >> What? >> That is a fake name, right? That can't be real. >> Well she married a Baron. >> Good for her. >> [LAUGH] >> She married a Baron, she was by no means a Baroness. But really, she came from nowhere, English was definitely her second language. >> [LAUGH] >> She took lower Manhattan by storm. She hung out with the little review editors Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap. She went all ways sexually, she was just a performance, she performed New York Dada. She was, she embodied it. In fact, her writing standing alone doesn't do it justice. She would dress a certain way, T-balls hung from her nipples. Ice cream scoops as earrings, moon shaped holes in the back of dresses, all kinds of head-wear. She was a walking Dada sculpture, and she wrote this poem, A Dozen Cocktails, Please. What's going on in this poem, what's happening? >> What isn't going on in this poem [LAUGH]. >> Well, say some of the many things that are going on. >> You have flappers, you have- >> What's a flapper? >> A 1920s woman who's >> Post World War I, coming from, Indiana, Ohio. >> Indiana, coming to New York City. >> Escaping what? >> Midwestern America. >> Yeah, we're talking about a big divide at this point. Post war, you have people coming back from, they've seen Paris. And there's all kinds of radical aesthetic movements, and political movements in places like New York. But if you hear about it in Indiana you kind of long for this. So you take the train, and you bob your hair, and you buy one of the short dressers, and you're a flapper. Where's flapper appear here? >> Coy flappertoy. >> What is a coy flappertoy, Anna? >> A vibrator. >> There's the vibrator-- Coy flappertoy, what a great phrase. I guess we don't need to unpack that one. >> [LAUGH] >> Yeah, we're good, okay. All right, what else is in this palm? So she's mocking the flapper, I mean the flappers are kind of going part way. She's going all the way, she's beyond flapper. But she's kind of challenging them to live out the sexual freedom. By the way, what did she say to William Carlos Williams? He kind of interacted with her in this scene, he'd came in on a Friday night leaving Flossy and Cathleen and the baby sleeping in the house. And he would have some fun and then he would run into the Baroness, and what did she want to do? >> She wanted to give him syphilis to free his mind. >> Free his mind, and apparently according to him, he slugged her. He slugged her and hit her, and then he bailed her out of the tombs and it's a complicated story. She scared a few people, in a way, you have her saying, hey Bill Williams, you want to be modern? Here I am. Really threatening, yeah, really threatening. What else is going on in the poem? >> Well, I think she's using a lot of different kinds of language, and basically mocking it. In the first couple of lines, we have the language of Broadway, yes we have no bananas. >> Yes, we have no bananas. We have no bananas today. Eddie Cantor, I think, on Broadway in the 20s. >> Yeah, and then there's the language of advertising, up to date American home comforts. There's sort of a wartime statement, S.O.S, national shortage of--. There's more advertising, say it with- >> Bolts. >> Say it with bolts, an apple a day. Very real twenties, Mad Men, uplift. Advertising influenced happiness, the 20s, this was the roaring 20s. What about this Valentine's thing? >> So she says, have them send waves like candy Valentines. Say it with bolts, which is instead of saying it with flowers. So it's kind of a Williams-y statement. >> Yeah, I mean it's kind of a Dada thing, it's certainly a cousin to what Williams would say. Arrive instead of with flowers with the broken green glass bolts, say it with bolts. There's an aesthetic there, right? Love, if you really want to love someone, bring out the, I don't know, modern version of industrial mechanistic thinginess. What else? There's something else, there's all kinds of modern things here. >> Well, it does seem like something. There's some sort of strange narrative, dare I say it. It starts with the rejection of various things, no spinster lollipop for me. >> Spinster lollipop? >> Yeah, whatever that is. >> [LAUGH] >> And it ends with a request, right, a dozen cocktails? >> A request of whom? >> Who knows, the reader, some invisible party present? >> Well a little more literally, since you were going through a story, where is she? >> She's at a bar I guess? >> Yeah, yeah, she's at a bar and it's not legal to drink. >> That's right. >> It's a speakeasy, yeah, she's asking for a dozen cocktails. A dozen cocktails? I don't think anybody at this table has ever had a dozen cocktails. She's already pretty drunk, right? She's- >> [INAUDIBLE] >> [SOUND] I feel whoozy. I like that, I don't hanker after Billyboy, but I am entitled to be deeply shocked. She's using a kind of language sex, language as penetration. There's a sexual play here, I'm entitled to be deeply shocked. And then after that, she asks for a dozen cocktails. So this is self-destructiveness, there's plenty of that in the Baroness, what else? >> Well, Dada is like, I think it was Hawk who would say that Dada wants to kill art. >> Anti-art, right? >> Anti-art, I don't know if she's trying to kill poetry. >> There's a lot of self-destructiveness in the Baroness. She's burning the candles at both ends. She's burning the candles at both ends, some poets wrote about that and she did it. The poems were written by the hundreds, maybe thousands, many of them are in the archive. A lot of them were given to her friend, Juna Barnes, the great novelist, who then saved them away. And they ended up, I believe, partly in the archive of the University of Maryland in the Barnes collection. And this is one of them. >> So what do you think about this in relation to Stein? >> I don't want to try to do this in relation to Stein. I'd rather do this, because I don't know the answer. I'd rather do this in relation to modernism, to the other modernists that we've studied so far, including Stein. I think this is an instance of a person, of a woman trying to take the performance of modernism in it's new urban setting to extremes. Think about this in relation to the Encounter. >> Yeah, that's exactly, yeah. >> While they talked the numerality, I did my little ditty imagist thing to her hands. And the Baroness would say, Ezra! We could do a lot more, other than talk the numerality, let's do the numerality. >> I also think it almost goes beyond kind of, really, the farthest point of modernism. There is so much in here that hints towards postmodernism to me. All the taken language, and the fact. >> Language quoted and derived from advertising and from aphorisms and cliches, yeah? >> And the fact that you can, as Emily was saying, construct a narrative. But at the same time, it's kind of just a mishmash. >> Well, she's drunk. >> Yeah. >> So the frame device here is drunkenness, that allows her- >> Al, you do a great impression of that drunkenness. >> I do a great impression of drunkenness? Well, you'll have to give me it, there's a little bit of bourbon. As Johnny Carson and Ralph, or Jackie Gleason used to say. If I get a little bourbon, I'll do it. But I think that the framing device of drunkenness, or maybe in the Baroness's case because she really lived all this, presumably drunkenness. That allows her to say whatever she wants, when you're drunk you can say all kinds of things. And you can allow words to become neologisms, you can slur your speech, you can use dashes. Not in that intense super conscious way that Emily Dickinson would, but unconsciously. Because you don't know possibly what word you could do, because you forgot the word. Say it with dash, dash, dash, bolts! >> I'm thinking form follows function. >> What better, what better mood >> Trying embody this drunken, crazy, free, urban, everything's coming at you all at once. >> I think the sexual openness here in this poem. I like that, I don't hanker after Billyboys, the very word penetrates. She says, Hhhhhphssssssss! The very word penetrates, I feel whoozy, I like that. I don't hanker after Billyboys, but I am entitled to be deeply shocked. So are we, but you fill the hiatus. It's not clear who you is, but it seems to me that she is sexualizing the very idea of finding words and having words penetrate her. She's basically saying I'm ready, I'm ready. And she refers above to any sissy poet has sufficient, freezing chemicals in his Freudian ice chest to snuff all cockiness, we'll hire one. She is really liberated, she is completely liberated and really imbalanced, I think is the nicest word we can think of. So what about the word straight? But you fill the hiatus, Dear I ain't queer, internal rhyme. I need it straight, a dozen cocktails-- please. Let's think of at least three connotations of the word straight. >> Pure. >> Pure, right, as in don't water down my drink. No ice please, don't stir it or shake it, just give it to me straight. >> Yup. >> Okay, that's one. >> True. >> True. >> Like tell me it straight, tell me the truth. >> Yep, give it to me straight. I need it straight. You want to be honest? Are we really doing this? Are we really making it new? We need to be straight. Let's not beat around the bush, let's be straight. What else? There's one more thing. >> Heterosexual >> Yeah, heterosexual. Dear, I ain't queer, give me it straight. It's not clear what she really means by I ain't queer, because she seems to be willing to do anything. And she may be innocently quoting somebody. She may be talking to the male bartender to try to get the drinks. She doesn't have any money, maybe she's trying to get them free. Who knows? I need it straight, I need it without dilution. I need it, the sexual member, or words, right? I need it honestly and I need as much alcohol as I can possibly get. >> I have something that speaks to a sense of immediacy. The entire poem follows all of the distractions that she's surrounded by and there's sort of an aggression behind it. Which would characterize a new woman, but the environment in which she was in was not ready for her, I think, at the time. >> Well, I'm willing to perform this, but only if you really want. >> Please? >> [CROSSTALK] >> But, I'm so far from the Baroness, I'm buttoned down. I'm an Ivy League professor, I'm not a woman. I'm not unstable, and I'm not wearing t-balls. >> [LAUGH] >> I hope I don't regret this. A dozen cocktails, please. No spinster lollipop for me. Yes, we have no bananas. I've got lusting palate, I always eat them. They have dandy celluloid tubes, all sizes. Tinted diabolically as a baboon's hind complexion. A man's a piffle. Will-o-the-wisp, what's the dread matter with the up-to-date American home comforts? There I think she's really ironizing the ad language. Bum insufficient for the should-be well groomed upsy, that's the leading question. There's the vibrator, coy flappertoy, I am adult citizen with vote. Women got the vote in 1920, I'm doing footnotes too. >> [LAUGH] >> I demand my unstinted share in roofeden. That's sort of a German inflected neologism. Witchsabbath of our baby, Lonian, as in baby Lonian, Babylonian. Obelisk, what's radio for, if you please. Eve's dart pricks snookums upon wirefence. That line sounds like it could be from Charles Bernstein. >> [LAUGH] >> Eve's dart picks snookums upon wirefence. An apple a day, it'll come, ha! When? I'm no tongueswallowing yogi, progress is ravishing. It doesn't me, nudge it, kick it, prod it, push it, broadcast. That´s the lightning idea, S.O.S., national shortage of what? What? How are we going to put it befitting lifted upsys? Psh, any sissy poet is sufficient freezing chemicals in his Freudian icechest to snuff all cockiness. We'll hire one, hell, not that, that´s the trouble. Cock crow silly, fine! They're in France, the air on the line, the Poles, have them send waves, like candy, Valentines, say it with bolts. Thunder, serpentine, aircurrents, Hhhhhphssssssss! The very word penetrates, I feel whoozy, I like that. I don't hanker after Billyboys, but I am entitled to be deeply shocked. Ironic, I am entitled to be deeply shocked. So are we, but you fill the hiatus. Dear, I ain't queer, I need it straight. A dozen cocktails, please. >> [APPLAUSE] >> You like that? >> [APPLAUSE] >> I'm exhausted being the Baroness for five minutes.