Friday, 4 August 2017

thoughts on language

How quickly the day wears on as I research a simple little something that came to me as I opened the curtains this morning and saw yesterday's bud

bloom into this!

I thought to myself:

A rose is a rose
and when I sing
I am a rose
like anything

A paraphrase of Gertrude Stein's poem,

I am Rose my eyes are blue
I am Rose and who are you?
I am Rose and when I sing
I am Rose like anything.

The avant-garde novelist and poet Gertrude Stein was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania in1874. She was one of the early students at Radcliffe College, the sister school to Harvard University, and her favorite professor was the psychologist William James. He taught her that language often tricks us into thinking in particular ways and along particular lines. As a way of breaking free of language, he suggested she try automatic writing, a method of writing down whatever came into her head as quickly as possible; it's what we might call stream of consciousness today. She loved it, and used it as one of her writing methods for the rest of her life.

"Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose" is possibly Gertrude Stein's most famous quotation, often interpreted as meaning "things are what they are".  It  was written as part of the 1913 poem "Sacred Emily" where the first "Rose" is actually the name of a person. Stein later used variations of this sentence as in that little poem above.  In Stein's view, the "Rose is a rose..." sentence invokes the imagery and the emotions associated with something- like a rose- simply by using the name of that thing.

As the quotation was reworked through her own writing, and the culture at large (it had an unusual impact once published), Stein once remarked, "Now listen! I’m no fool. I know that in daily life we don't go around saying 'is a ... is a ... is a ...' Yes, I’m no fool; but I think that in that line the rose is red for the first time in English poetry for a hundred years." (my italics)

In explanation, she once said to an audience at Oxford University that the statement referred to the fact that when the Romantics used the word "rose", it had a direct relationship to an actual rose. For later periods in literature this would no longer be true. The eras following Romanticism, notably the modern era, use the word rose to refer to the actual rose, yet they also imply, through the use of the word, the archetypical elements of the Romantic era.

Nevertheless, this quote of Gertrude's Stein's has gone down in infamy, often provoking sarcasm and derision like that of poet William Carlos Williams in his 1955 poem "The Pink Locust" where he quotes "a rose is a rose is a rose" as an indication of the poet's self-deprecation in relation to life, denying the value of the creative act, that the poet feels impotent and recognises in her art merely a banal repetition of the words we use every day to represent the unrepresentable richness of the natural world.

This is a long bit of preamble for this post, so please forgive me as I add my thoughts on the decline of language skills, or as some would call it, "the evolution".  Every day I experience poor use of language skills, just as often by media as individuals. It shouldn't still surprise me as this has been going on for years and has clearly become normalized. Don't get me started on communication....

That's my Friday rant.
I will proceed with pictures which, as they say, are worth you-know-what.

an avid bee in a sweetpea

not a honey bee but maybe the leafcutter I showed you in a past post  

yellow dill flowers and zucchini blossom at the bottom

dill flowers make such a lovely fireworks

Zucchinis are coming in 

After some research, I suspect that the neighbours' tree that leans into the back end of our yard is a ...

black cherry

Except for a few missing grapes, so far so good

The broad leafed plant I call prehistoric is finally releasing a group of flowers from their pod

It is one of the most unusual flowerings I've ever seen

the hosta lilies

What a fabulous mutation that the pistil lays below the sheltered stamen in order to catch the pollen

Back on the porch on this dreadfully hot morning, the basil are finally coming in after quite a stunted start. The cherry tomatoes behind them will be my treat while I hang laundry.

You may remember that I've ventured a few posts back into doing a 2 page "spread", wanting to do more composite works. An experiment with collage elements using Mrs. Tiggywinkle from Beatrix Potter's book of the same name and another of those Tim Holtz cutouts. Time Holtz washi tape runs along the farmost right. Wanting to incorporate some of my own writing, I found I was at a loss as to what to say so I lifted some of my own text from a previous blog post. I used coloured pencils to "age" the pages and tie the elements together.

Still in a brown mood, this drawing is done in just two coloured pencils.
I find I often like my monochromatic works better. It's easier to build on the lights and darks and they are calmer to my sensibilities as finished works even though I love the process of working with brights.

Thank you as always for visiting here.
I am honoured most especially by those of you who make repeat visits to this blog. It is with you in mind that I continue to post as it is a lonely business with only the occasional, though much appreciated  comment. I'm hoping that it is only because it is mid summer and so many folks are away on holiday that my stats show a drop in viewers. So thank you dear folks who hang in there with me.

sweet summer dreams 


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