So now we're going to look at two brief tender buttons items, prose poems, Water Raining and Malachite. So are we ready for this? Now, if we're really going to prove to ourselves and others that this can be done and we can face uncertainty. Are you ready to face uncertainty? Max are you ready to face uncertainty? >> Yes, I'm not sure. >> [LAUGH] >> Max, I want you to take my chair. >> Okay. >> And lead us, and I'm going to sit where you are. >> All right. >> All right have fun Max. >> [LAUGH] >> That's a real handshake this time. >> [LAUGH] >> Go, have fun. >> [LAUGH] >> Give me my water. >> Here you are. >> So water raining Al, what do you make of that? >> [LAUGH] >> No, no, no, no, no. >> [LAUGH] >> Come on, do the revolution, you don't just. I guess the ultimate revolution would be making me the student but go ahead, Max. Go ahead. >> [LAUGH] >> Molly, what do you make of that title? >> See, it's easy to be in his position. >> Well, the water's doing something specific. There's movement involved. I feel like there could be a comma in there. Water Raining, it's weird but there isn't. >> It's weird, because it's like rain is raining. So water raining's actually kind of redundant. >> True. >> Unless somebody else is pouring the water somehow- >> And then that makes it- >> The water's not raining on its own. >> Do other things rain? >> Kings do. >> Well that's- >> [LAUGH] >> A different spelling. >> Emotions reign. >> Okay. >> Certain things. >> But water does other things than rain though right? >> It flows, it trickles. >> And apparently it astonishes as well, Amarise? >> [LAUGH] >> What do you think of water astonishing? >> I'm astonished by astonishing, some water astonishing. I mean, it's certainly strange to see a gerund attached to a noun in this way. In the same way that the title is, it seems to be a sort of repetition with an alteration. Amalie what do you think? >> [LAUGH] >> I'm trying to have thoughts, but it's not really happening. Hey Alex, what's going on over there? >> I don't know, I wonder if it's. For some reason I just keep coming back to this image of like water always like rising to its level. Just kind of what we talked in terms of the brain within its groove a couple weeks ago. And I dunno, so water astonishing and difficult altogether makes a meadow. I mean, you could kind of see how that would work just because water raining does kind of provide the nutrients I guess or what a meadow needs to flourish. But then what is the stroke and I guess stroke, that brings to mind, swimming, or the stroke of a pen. >> Or a stroke is a person having a stroke. >> There's a couple ways a person could have a stroke. A person could have a stroke with good luck, a person could have a stroke when they >> Of, of. >> Brain. >> Yeah. >> Stroke so I guess it's positive and negative there. >> If we go back to the paint metaphor of stroke, I mean you need water to be able to make paint. To paint a meadow, to create all these things. So I'm sure ombres can find a way to translate this to the making of a poem. >> How about the making of a painting, any water in painting? >> Any water in painting that Stein admire- >> I just said that. >> I know, any water in a painting that Stein would've admired that might've had a meadow in it? That's at the Barnes Foundation? >> Well if you think of impressionist paintings, those are all made with strokes, quick strokes >> Monet for example painted water all the time. So maybe we can think about this poem, if you look at the whole sentence of the poem. We can think about how water astonishing and difficult. Normally you think astonishing as a positive thing. I'm astonished by this, I'm in awe. And difficult, that's not always a good thing, I guess. But it makes both a meadow and a stroke which again, positive and negative. So it's kind of, to me, this is kind of about the dual properties of water. And how water is traditionally and realistically both such a good and a bad thing. Water is life-giving, but it's also Hurricane Katrina. It could be all of these things, and everything in between. >> If we take it back to the Impressionist painting analogy for a second, what do we think is astonishing and difficult about Impressionism? Or in what way is Stein sort of aligning herself or her method to the Impressionist method, David? >> I think you could look to the way the words sound for a lot of information about that. For me, astonishing and difficult seems very turbulent, altogether makes a meadow seems very flowing. It seems as if the language sounds themselves are trying to replicate, water raining. >> I think what Steing does is a lot like what impressionist painters do. They don't exactly try to depict their subject. They try to give you the feeling of the subject and the mood and sort of the general relationships. >> I think it's actually the opposite. When you brought up that point, I thought of meadow and stroke being the opposition of the particular versus the general. So when you step back from the strokes of an Impressionist painting, that's when the image emerges. And here water seems to perhaps have the effect of blurring all those strokes together in a negative sense as Anna was talking. I wasn't going to initially attach value judgments to any of the words. But perhaps in the negative sense of then just washing out the particular area, the difference that Stein values so much. And so by bringing it from water raining and astonishing with that general image, back to the particular at the end, that might be her project in the sense. >> What if we think about the meadow? Meadow and the stroke are equated through the conjunction and. What does it make, it makes both, right. What does the attempt to depict something so fluid as water create? Something so ill-defined, something that sort of takes whatever space it wants to, something that's hard to imagine as a form. What does it make, it makes two things. It makes the content of a post Impressionist painting. But it also makes the- >> And for the- >> The act of doing it, the stroking, the brush stroke. And this is classic Stein in thinking about what she loves about art. Which is the content, of course a meadow, but really how it gets made. She's always thinking about words as brushstrokes. >> And impressionist painters were the first school of painters who left their process on the canvas. They didn't sketch things out and then give it this perfect veneer >> That's great they left the process there for us to see. That's really what Tender Buttons is all about. Max do you want to take us through Malachite? >> On to Malachite? >> Good luck. >> Okay. >> This one is harder I think. >> This one is much harder. The sudden spoon is the same in no size. As the sudden spoon is the wound in the decision. A sudden spoon, Emily you have any thoughts on sudden spoon or on this alliterative line to begin with? >> Well, all I can really see is the difference between them. That you don't really, a spoon is such a sort of static, prosaic object and sudden. And it gives this kind of motion and dynamism to this which it doesn't really have or does it? I don't know, that's as far as I can get. >> Words seem kind of similar things, they conjure up an image to me of stacking spoons. And I don't know if the word sudden has anything to do with that, with the two ds next to each other, they look like stacking spoons. But knowing what malachite looks like when you pick spot and slice it open. It's got concentric circles so that's also what I think mirrors the stacking spoons and the similarity of the words. >> Similarity's interesting too because if we think about what malachite is, it's a mineral. That got its name because it resembles the leaves of the mallow plant. So that kind of resemblance, referentiality, I think you're right on, Dave. >> I think about a wound, the sudden spoon is the wound, as when you dip into ice cream or peanut butter for the first time, you kind of leave a hole. >> [LAUGH] >> But I feel like decision has to refer to her process somehow. >> Perhaps it refers to word choice or word placement because a spoon is such an everyday mundane object. And it only gains its distinction here with movement through the suddenness which we already said is such a strange word to attach to it. So there in its self shes enacted what she's saying is that the spoon became unique and particular, with its placement right next to sudden. >> And also going back to what you where saying Molly something about the decision being the wound. I don't know, kind of says to me is that the process of whenever you make a decision about language, and you put it down on paper. Somehow the process of concretely, anytime you take kind of the abstraction of just words and their possibilities. And lay them down in a concrete way that is a type of wound maybe, becausethey're no longer free because they're in relation to each other. >> [INAUDIBLE] >> Well, any poet or writer would of course make, or any artist of course makes choices and decisions. So I think Amarise if you want to speak to this since you are an expert on meta-poiesis. >> [LAUGH]. >> I'm not an expert, >> Speaks to, is she saying something about her process here or? >> I think- >> Wounding that process. >> With the idea of sameness is interesting here because she saying a sentence when we same a no size. If we think about that as words usually poets usually try to find the right word or they feel that words are synonymous. And we know that no word actually is the same because of all the connotation or historical references, cultural references attached to it. And so the spoon seems to be a wound in the sense of alluding to the to the sort of fragment or lack or inadequacy on the part of language to fully encapsulate any meaning that we're trying to capture. But maybe that wound isn't necessarily a bad thing and it can be alluded to or through repetition that she's trying to do. It seems that the spoon of the first part of the poem is not the same as the second. >> When I've read this poem in the past, thought when I see the word decision I think about the odd title. It's somewhat odd, even in a series of odd titles, Malachite. And it's the kind of word that even in Stein's time, I don't think malachite was any more in circulation as a word than it is now. It's the kind of thing you need to think about and maybe look up. I really, I think that following from Anna's suggestion, we think about the way that resemblance works in the etymology or linguistic history of a word like that. You get a word that was named on the basis of its resemblance, not in use, not in utility and not even in visuality. But its resemblance based on shape and color. And I think that Gertrude Stein is exploring in her poetry, the possibilities of exact resemblance that's not exact visually, that's not exact in utility. The spoon is an object, that if you take its utility away, it is about as lovely an aesthetic a thing as you could possibly imagine, it's just a lovely thing. Probably one of the first things that we human beings, Homo sapiens actually made. And it's had such utility historically that it's so refreshing to think of it. And the title of this poem is a word that really only relates based on these form, formal kind of resemblances. So I really like decision a lot in this. Max you are fabulous, spontaneous leader, you didn't know this was going to happen. Do you want to get a final a final word? >> There's something about this poem particularly that reminds me of the HE in Williams that we did. The sudden, once the spoon is sort of this sort of quotidian object once it's stripped of that practical connotation, that practical use, it becomes sudden. It becomes something beautiful, something to admire, and that reminds me of HD kind of, looking at other kinds of roses. Sort of resisting the typical connotation, typical expectations that we have with roses or of Williams finding the pieces of broken glass. Like how suddenly they appear, and how suddenly they seem to shine. >> So let me just ask any of you to say generally what we've just done. Implicitly response to the understandable concerns of Ally and so many others that this is a contradictory and maybe not helpful activity. But now you've somewhat unguided faced, hadn't really prepared for it, faced close reading of two difficult pieces. What is to be gained from what you've just done, as distinct from facing this by yourself? >> Well, ask Dickinson, success in circuit lies. I think that's what this is all about, is about coming at something in a new way. >> And you did it attentively but you also did it collectively and collaboratively and spontaneously. Is there something to be gained from that in particular, what did you just do? As opposed to reading it by yourself, Ally speaks. >> Well, I mean, we engaged, In writing this, there's the process of making, the process of maybe making meaning. And in reading it as a group, there's more of a collaborative effort to piece together meaning from the other side. Which if you were just reading it by yourself you might be more inclined to just read once or twice or three times and then kind of turn the page. >> When you're with others you don't give up quite so easily and in a sense you create a momentary. But sufficient interpretative community that is exactly belief that I bear having to do with truth that there is a wisdom in the crowd when it comes to poetry. If we face uncertainty, which is what we do in our world, if we face uncertainty knowing as we do just now that we would not come up with the satisfactory full understanding. But we faced it and then there's a certain pleasure to be derived from doing that communally. It's just what humans do when they make meaning. I don't think, by any means, that Stein was speaking to herself, which is what she was accused of, or babbling to herself. I think she was seeking a new kind of community of meaning making, which we in our own very modest way simulated. What better way to understand Stein than to grapple with that very point. Thank you, Max. >> Thank you Al.