So we're going to be dealing now with Gertrude Stein's famous verbal, poetic, poem portrait of Picasso, Pablo Picasso. All right, so what kind of portrait is it? Emily, right off the top of your head. What kind of portrait is it? >> It's a verbal portrait. >> It's a verbal portrait. As opposed to an oil painting. >> A pictorial portrait. >> Could you imagine a verbal portrait that tries to do what a traditional painted portrait does? >> Sure. >> Sure what would it be like? >> Realistic language. >> Descriptive. >> Descriptive. >> Visually descriptive maybe. >> Yes. >> But what other kinds of portraits are there? Verbal portraits. A biography of George Washington could be said to be a portrait of George Washington, or Napoleon. And it would it start? >> At his birth. >> And move through his inevitable rise to power and then his decline. A nice spark, right? This isn't that. What is it? Dave, what is it? >> It's more of a cubist verbal painting. She's trying to replicate more of a realistic life mess than just a straight narrative, a straight cause and effect. >> You used the word realistic. >> Whoa, I think most people would see the word realism referring to Tolstoy and George Eliot. That's realism, how could this be realism? >> Because she still is referring to something, she's not abstracting it out. It's not abstract in that sense, it still something that she's trying to just describe in a different way. >> Describe in a different way. Kristen, what ways? How is she describing it, is she describing? >> She's coming at it from all the different angles, and kind of twisting the words around. So every line, in a lot of the lines, they just change very slightly. And if you listen to a recording it's very impressive how she does it, because I feel like if I were trying to read this out loud I wouldn't be able to, because it's such a tongue twister. because it's just such, such slight differences between each line. >> Mm-hm, so let's go back to the basics though. So, what is she doing? How would you describe or characterize what kind of portrait she's doing? Anna? >> Well, if we think about what she said in the prose paragraphs we looked at earlier, she talks about repeating. >> Mm-hm. >> How repetition you can sort of make slight differences, like Kristen was saying to try and get it right, to try and approximate. I think that I've sort of imagined this kind of like Dave was saying, too. If you think about a Cubist painting and you have all of those little infinitesimal fractures. I think about each of these different parts of the poem, I think about the would he like it with Napoleon, Napoleon would he like it and then now, and now. I think of each of those has a different kind of fracture, angle, swath of color, line. >> So not as a word with semantic meaning but as a As a- >> This is hard to do. >> Approximation. >> Approximation? Translate the media, we have Cubist painting, who's a good example of a Cubist painter at certain points? >> Picasso and Braque. >> Yeah, Picasso! Let's just say Picasso, why would Braque be relevant to this? Let's talk about Picasso, okay. So Picasso would be an instance of a painter who does what in a Cubist portrait? >> Takes a rounded shape and flattens it out. >> Okay. >> And gives you all of its elements on the same plate- >> When you're just a middlebrow, or any kind of citizen of the world and you come to a museum and you see a Picasso portrait and you've never seen cubism before you say what? >> That's non-representational. >> Or, what question would you ask? >> What is this? >> What is this? >> Or how is this what it is. >> So this is a portrait of that woman that's in the title, that man that's in the title, but I can't see that man. Okay, now, you're standing next to that person and you say, hey buddy. What do you say? Actually, buddy, it's. >> Well, I don't know. That's the point. >> Okay, and what would you say? Hey buddy. Molly, what would you say? >> The sum of the angles is greater than the whole. [LAUGH] The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. >> Okay, what does that mean? >> That it's actually more accurate to take all the different angles and all the different fractions of a picture, of a person then to try to represent them exactly in words. >> Okay, that's good enough. Now, try to do it in words. What's the analogous function for words? It's a rough analogy. The canvas would be equal to the piece of paper that goes into a typewriter or is written on. That's okay. It's very this thing, this inter-art thing gets harder after that. The hand holding the pen or the fingers pushing down the keys is equivalent to the hand holding the brush. So far we're okay. Now it gets hard. What is the equivalent of the stuff that's on the edge of the paint hairs, the brush. What's at the edge of the brush? What is that equivalent of? And what is the equivalent of the little shard like pieces in the Cubist portrait in this. Anybody want to try any of those, Amorice? >> Maybe the words become the materials for the actual construction so instead of focusing on their symantic meaning we're focusing on their form and color. >> Form and color. >> Or their sound and shape and he or she's, that destabilizes the subject-object relationship, because in the way that a cubist painting represents all the perspectives at once. It isn't like an oil painting from before where the person is distinctly positioned in their contemporary time. In front of that painting, we're looking from a certain angle. All those angles are happening at the same time and he or she's trying to do that same thing. >> Difficult to do. Okay, so why is it appropriate for her to do a completed portrait of Pablo Picasso in this way? It's not just the completed portrait of George Washington, no. Gertrude Stein did her modernistic thing with old George, who's always been depicted as the guy standing in the rowboat crossing the Delaware on Christmas Eve, or whenever it was, Christmas Day. She's not doing this to George Washington, she's doing it to Pablo Picasso. Commensurate? Appropriate? Why, why, why? >> She's portraying Picasso as he would portray. >> She's doing what Picasso would do. That's different from saying let's say I'm Robert Carrow and I'm biographer of LBJ, Lyndon Baines Johnson. I'm not a Texan. I'm a Jew. I'm Jewish, Robert Carrow is. I don't know anything about the life of LBJ so I do my Carrow thing on LBJ. All right, I don't do an LBJ thing. If it was an LBJ thing, who knows what kind of biography it would be. So Stein is kind of giving up the subject position of Stein, although not so much because they're similar. And doing Picasso idn oing Picasso, does this resonate at all, what? >> That's like Frank Sullivan was saying, form follows function. >> Form follows function, sure. But more specifically than that. >> If you're going to do a portrait of Picasso you have to do it. >> Do Picasso. >> You have to do Picasso, you can't- >> So the best way. To do Picasso would be to do Picasso, not to do Stein doing Picasso, do Picasso. >> You can't talk about Lincoln a Man of the People in this not Man of the People language. >> Perfect, well, let's just call that the 19th century fallacy, right, that form doesn't have to be commensurate with subject matter. In this case, it is. So let's just, why do we get all this stuff, let's talk about he he he and he and he what's going on in that line? He he he he and he and he and and he and he and he and and as and as he and as he and he, what do you do with that? What are some interpretations that are possible, Dave, start us off. >> Sure sounds like someone's laughing. >> Okay, laughter, good, a kind of glee, this is fun, I love doing this. Okay, keep going. >> And the he gets cut off from the verb so it always seems to be in process and interrupted by the repetition of the conjunction. >> Maybe commensurate with Picasso there, maybe not, doesn't have to be, but- >> Well, I think it's a translation of that medium, so she's saying that the way we've learned to read a visual painting- >> Okay, why the word he as opposed to Paul? >> Because it's a pronoun and she's- >> Is it a female pronoun? >> No, it's a masculine one that she's cutting off. >> So she's laughing and also, let's just say Picasso was very masculine. There's a way in which he he he and he, she's messing with the male pronoun. Any other connotations of he? >> Well, it's an enumeration, she's indicating him and she's indicating many hims. And considering it is like a multiperspectival thing, why not point to him again and again and again from a different direction. >> Good, let's go back to who comes first, Napoleon the first, what does Napoleon have to do with any of this? Uh-oh, we don't know, right? >> Well, [LAUGH] it could have to do with Picasso's power in the art world. >> So, are you saying, that Stein is saying, that implicitly that Picasso is Napoleonic? >> I think so, I think he had a very large personality from what I've read and- >> A little man with a large personality, maybe? Creative energy- >> But I think part of what she's doing too is just playing with the sound- >> The empire of modern art- >> Yeah, was it Parloff that said that, I know I read that. [LAUGH] >> I think it's Ulagaido who suggested that to us, yeah. >> I think she's saying that Picasso's disrupting the traditional hierarchy of art the way that Napoleon did with all his conquests. So in the way that she is trying to undermine that ordered nature of language that has worked up unto this point- >> And history >> She's saying that, exactly, especially history, Napoleon's a historical figure. >> I had a college professor who was from the South and used to say, when we were studying Shakespeare, y'all ought to know the kings of England. Translation, you should know the kings of England in order. I'm not sure why, actually, it had to do with understanding the history place. So I started to study the kings of England in order as if that would give me some historical notion. It implies a certain cause and effect, but when you go from Elizabeth to James there's a rupture there. There's more rupture there than there is continuity, the crown gets continued. So when you're talking about emperors, who came first, Napoleon the first. She's talking about the kind of self fulfillment and circularity of history. If she's creating analogy to Picasso, then what? We're sort of getting there already, but let's say Picasso and Gertrude Stein, for instance, in their relationship. Who came first, Napoleon the first. Does anybody sense some kind of deconstruction of artistic history and of influence? Is it possible, art historian? What is she saying about Picasso and invention, and who came first, and all that? >> I think who came first is always a tough question when you talk about art because, maybe more so than history, art is continuity. But the 20th century, especially in the beginning of it, is such a time of change and flux and breaking and fissure and fracture that at the time when Picasso starts the Cubist movement that just makes all these other movements just bloom out of that. You have a couple of different kinds of Cubism, you have Fauvism, you have Post-Impressionism happening too. >> So, what would Gertrude Stein, maybe, saying about who came first? >> Well, that concurrent with that is all of this fracture in the literary world. So, who did what, was it art first or was it writing first? >> I think you're right, there is a kind of genre jealousy or an inter-arts rivalry going on here, especially when you think of Gertrude Stein as doing Picasso. I can do Picasso, you want me to do Picasso? Go ahead, make my day, I will do a completed portrait of Picasso. Picasso did a portrait of Gertrude Stein, it's a rather depictive representational portrait. I don't know when it was done, so I don't know my ordering, but who cares about ordering here? >> It was one of the first almost Cubist. >> Almost cubist. >> But people call it [CROSSTALK] >> So, now she's returning the favor, but she's really out Picassoing Picasso. Amarise? >> I think she's really questioning, or showing how arbitrary that ordering is because even when Anna was saying all those movements were in painting, mainly, or they began there. And I think she's trying to elude to a spreading across mediums, in the way that she's translating painting into poetry here. Maybe the difference that she's spreading is one just in any sort of language, whether that be a visual medium or a linguistic medium. >> So, portraiture is associated with the telling of history, portraiture is associated with the proper, orderly depiction of a person, particularly historic personage, right? So, if she's questioning cause and effect, and she's questioning portraiture, she's implicitly questioning history. Whether it be diplomatic history, the history of empires, the history of kingship, or the history of authority over aesthetic movements. So when she says at the end, let me recite what history teaches, history teaches, what does she mean? Kristen, what does she mean? It's a different sentence, a different piece of language from the rest of the piece. What does she mean by that? Let me recite what history teaches, recite? >> That's kind of strange, let me recite what history teaches, instead of saying let me tell you what history teaches or- >> Who recites history? >> Who, professors. >> Someone who has to memorize things like [CROSSTALK]. >> Who recites the kings of England? >> Yeah, someone who has them memorized. Recite, who does one's ABC's, A to Z, who? >> The student. >> The student, who is socialized. >> And so she's saying, yeah, history teaches, that history teaches us things. >> History teaches that history's in charge. >> Yeah, basically. >> History teaches the cause and effect is what I say it is, and that's what history teaches. Does that have anything to do with portraiture, with Picasso, with art? Take a stab, by way of conclusion, Dave. >> If she's really, well, I think here she's really questioning the linearity of time as making sense as us being able to learn everything from cause and effect, from the linearity of time. Let me recite what history teaches, by us studying history in that way and viewing the world as cause and effect. That's the only way we're going to be able to view it. >> An alternative portrait Is an alternative history. It's Susan Howe whom we'll meet in chapter nine of this course, who writes a book about Emily Dickinson, My Emily Dickinson. We're reading a few passages from it. And about Emily Dickinson and Gertrude Stein, Susan Howe writes in that book that they conducted a skillful and ironic investigation of patriarchal authority over literary history. Who polices questions of grammar, parts of speech, connection and connotation? Who's order is shut inside the structure of the sentence? Let us recite what history teaches, history teaches. This is Susan Howe, looking back on Stein and Dickinson and trying to extract from them. Or trying to reread them as radical questioners of authority over cause and effect, and narrative. And it's possible to read this poem as in part, a celebration of Picasso as participating in that alternative. But also as something of a satire Picasso as quickly falling into the mode of authority over value. And so it's possible to see Stein as out doing Picasso. And questioning whose order is shut inside the structure of the sentence by exposing questions of grammar. Who sets things? And so that's why you get the equation between Picasso and Napoleon. But I think we've done a very earnest reading of this about the Stein-Picasso relationship. But can anybody, let's end by talking about, for those of you who took pleasure in it, how much fun this is, what pleasure it is. Who finds it to be pleasurable? Let's hear it, Allie? What's pleasurable? >> Well, I mean just kind of orally, I think it's very pleasurable but also- >> The sound, mm-hm. >> But also in addition, it's also jarring I think, and it's interesting because hearing it is a lot less jarring than reading it. Especially for the he, he, he, he, and he part. If you're trying to follow along with it, it actually kind of hurts your eyes. >> So jarring is pleasurable? >> Well- >> Welcome to the club. >> [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH] >> Yeah, and I guess it also just kind of plays with, The notion of what certain medium, or what different mediums, what sense they're supposed to effect. Because we always associate the writing and words visually to some extent. But- >> And semantically. We want them to mean and she liberates us from that and that's pleasurable. Dave? >> It's like a puzzle. It's fun to solve. And by solving it, you really get to put your mind through a different process than you're used to doing. And I think that process will always stick with you. >> Who else wants to say something about pleasure? Kristen? >> I think there are parts of it that are very humorous and that's what makes it pleasurable. Like the business about kings, the beginning, and then it comes up again, with father and farther was the king of the room. I think that's pretty, pretty funny. >> Anybody else want to say something about pleasure? >> I just like being made so uncomfortable about everything that I know about history, language, meaning, semantics, art, history, all of it. I think that the fact that she can do that so successfully, send us so far over the edge and give us just enough to bring us back. >> And I love the playful audacity of a word like completed. A completed portrait of Pablo Picasso. >> She's so fearless. >> She's fearless, and she's also, she's just throwing it out there. The line, I judge judge. She is turning language around and making it reflexive, which is a common strategy. She's assessing the arbiter himself. I judge the judge. She's turning taste making back on the taste maker. This is what I want my art to do. I want my art to challenge me to think about who was in charge deciding what's beautiful. And in a way she's saying I, Gertrude Stein, she's a genius. But she's also kind of liberating me to make my own judgement as to whether Stein can out Picasso Picasso. And in so doing, admire Picasso all the more.