Discussion → Gertrude Stein and the 'inaccrochable'

  • Richter.thumb
    Dec 20, 11:37am

    While there are too many brilliant comments to reply to in this thread, I think of writers all over the world who are continually censored & persecuted for what is considered "inaccrochable." Where there is injustice, there are systemic and pervasive institutional repression to reify subjects to think they are free.

    Also, if we think of the canon, artists like Stein are still undervalued and under-read.

    Great discussion!

  • Flawntnewsmall.thumb
    Finnegan Flawnt
    Dec 20, 12:38pm

    i can see what joseph says about the way controversy has been built into products, the market - it's been branded and neutered in the process. or so they'd like to make us think. there is, as far as i can see, still any number of truly controversial issues out there - if it boils down to us not understanding, i don't know. i think the situation may be worse - we've gone from 'understanding' (and trying to make sense of the world) as a key driver to 'illustrative' in many of the arts. as i tried to say i think this is so because there's more and more deeply felt fear about what might happen to us in the world now. i for one do not see the number of dangerous topics dwindle.

    as in most discussions about stein's utterings, the subject seems to slip away into oblivion and what remains are reflections of our points of view. we don't have a definition of inaccrochable but we all have experiences and fantasies galore, and i truly enjoyed meeting them.

    dada did not do what dada did to make sense but to raise questions (such as "what is the inaccrochable today?") that otherwise wouldn't be asked with the same alacrity. (i do see stein as auntie dada, alongside with hanna höch in collage, schwitters in sculpture & poetry...).

    marcelle - though i think to have read/heard that stein was somewhat displeased she was not read more by a wider public, she must've been satisfied by it, too. it made her special and it makes us special, even now, if we pick her up and leaf through her body eccentric.

    andrew, you hit me with that line „The flawed hero becomes darker by each story until we can't tell one from the other.“ good description of our task in your contribution: „try to mutate old yarns into something vital.“ yep. sticking it to the man may mean walking down an ancient alley seeing what everyone sees and say it out loud.

  • Quantum.thumb
    Hazar Worth
    Dec 20, 12:40pm

    The subject matter strikes to my own personal walk and talk.

    As a writer, I am compelled to sit down and explore those areas that captures my eye and that inspires my fires to write and to explore. At the 'writer's site' (more like a social gathering of individual who write, versus a site for writers to discuss their craft and personal aspect of writing) 6sentences.com, I suffered a ban and the lost of eighty blog posts there because I wrote a very 'controversial' story that caused one person to go on a crusade against my work which got me banned on a short term basis. This occurred because I created a strong piece that pushed the buttons of many who choosed to read my 'controversial' piece.

    I personally enjoy a well written piece of fiction (short to long) that does bring an edge, that does cut across the lines that makes me step across those lines like a cleptomanic that can't resist and doesn't want to resist that temptation and allure to have what we see and seize. I have written many 'hard' pieces that are challenging to the reader's sensibilities but as a long distant runner (last summer I ran non-stop for 12hrs. covering fifty-miles on a good heat day...) I do understand how beneficial a challenge brings to any individual willing to endure.

  • Flawntnewsmall.thumb
    Finnegan Flawnt
    Dec 20, 02:07pm

    john minichillo put it so well in his contribution...the paragraph ending with "Play with clay all you like" strongly resonates with me.

    as does your story, hazar (sorry to hear it, too). nice projecting this back on the individual challenge and the body.

    here's an image of the challenge: you've seen it before - http://bit.ly/7Up8h6 - notice the bullet holes? i bet some are yours.

  • Pic_dl_95.thumb
    Dorothee Lang
    Dec 20, 03:21pm

    like Marcelle, the word "inaccrochable" made me think of writers and artists who are censored or persecuted. it also made me think of the self-censorship that has developed in europe by publishers, authors and journalists when it comes to any text or book (or comic) that might be (mis)understood as offensive in arabic regions -- with Salman Rushdie and the scandinavian comic drawer as scary examples of possible consequences.

    another author i thought of in connection to censorship: Herta Müller, who was awarded the nobel prize in literature this year, "for depicting the landscape of the dispossessed with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose". in november, i read her novel 'Der Fuch war damals schon der Jäger' ('Always, the Fox was the Hunter') - it describes life in Romania under Ceausescu's totalitarian regime, written after she was allowed to leave romania in 1987. before that, her writing was censored. reading her book, i felt it sketches an encrypted picture of life in a land of inaccrochable / dispossessed / unspeakable truths.

  • Raven.thumb
    Andrew Bowen
    Dec 20, 03:57pm

    Dorothee has helped me see an interesting parallel here: our society appears waterlogged by expression to the point of sensational dilution, while our brethren across the pond are censored to the point of artistic starvation. That isn't to say that the artistic culture isn't rich. Only that, like the Muslim cartoon that came under fire and even in places like France where wearing the hijab is outlawed...oh when will folks realize that the monsters in the closet will only vanish once we grow the balls to realize it is only our undeserved fear?

  • Bless_you.thumb
    Derek Osborne
    Dec 20, 06:50pm

    Thanks, Ed, for starting this thread, and thanks to Meg for posing the real question in plain English. It's a tribute to Ms. Stein that we still debate her turn of phrase, smelly fat cunt that she was. Oh, I'm sorry, did I offend anyone? I don't see how, not when some of the "favorites" on this site deal with lesbians eating shit and hetero men sucking each other off. Forget the fact they were well written. I don't care, in the end we'll forget them as fast as last years Super Bowl ads. It pisses me off that we all get sucked into rewarding and writing this stuff. I'm not immune. I just edited down a 3800 word story to 2000 to get placed in a "hot" publication, but it's not the same story. The longer version will go in the collection. Sure, we're all big boys and girls and get real when it comes to marketing, but we still need to keep the kids in line. Note how the hottest movie this year is in 3D. Two dimensions no longer cut it. We all need surround sound and 52" flat screens in our homes for Christ's sake. There are some very smart people saying very smart things on this thread. Some are very good writers. If no one leads, you know what follows.

  • Pic.thumb
    Edward Mullany
    Dec 20, 08:39pm

    The range of reactions and interpretations to this question has been interesting. I’d considered Ms. Stein’s objection to Hemingway’s work less in terms of the relationship between artist and market than in terms of the relationship between artist and audience.

    Is it possible that what she was objecting to wasn’t so much the subject of ‘Up in Michigan’ but the frankness of the treatment of the subject? In other words, might the controversy, for her, have been inextricable from Hemingway’s prose style?

  • Raven.thumb
    Andrew Bowen
    Dec 21, 06:26am

    Hemingway didn't bullshit. That much is certain. So maybe you have a point, Edward. And it wasn't only him, but before the Minimalist came along, it took a while for writers to say anything in their prose--and that was part of the art...or self censorship.

    Derek. I agree. Each story has to push against the back of another in a "Look at me! Look at me!" fashion to see the light of day. Raw and cutting edge will soon become overcooked and dull before we know it. On the contrary, I take some pleasure in said movie, Avatar, taking a top spot in entertainment. This is what fiction is all about: a familiar escape from reality. It's refreshing to know that we are so hell-bent on pseudo reality afterall. Fiction and entertainment in general should be fantastical enough to pull me to the edge of my seat but anchored enough in reality to keep me from floating away.

  • Raven.thumb
    Andrew Bowen
    Dec 21, 06:28am

    *aren't so hell-bent* sorry

  • Darryl_falling_water.thumb
    Darryl Price
    Dec 23, 09:26am

    You can worry or you can do. Writing requires your life and life is messy. It's huge and it's everywhere even in the desolation, the cracks. There are a million reasons to create a piece of writing--as many as there are souls of writers--and probably all of them require some degree of courage. After all you are putting your thoughts into words into the action of making it physical--such as putting it into a book or sending it out into the electrical pulsating universe.Somewhere along the line is the leap of faith. But if a thing is considered unpublishable exactly who makes that judgement? And why do you as an individual give them that power? All things are publishable but not all things will grow into movements or dreams or connections--at least not the ones we might hope for. I hate to say it but luck and circumstance seem to be x factors. Everything that's working is working on us with us against us and through us. That's the challenge. To make what you choose to write as real as anything else going on. Your reasons are your own but don't expect the universe to stop and notice for long. You've got to keep going, doing the work, hit or miss, until you run out of steam, or quit.Worrying about whether a thing is publishable or not is giving over the power to someone else. A car or a rocket can be made out of wind if you so deem it. D.P.

  • Photo%20on%202011-05-20%20at%2013.thumb
    Kim Conklin
    Dec 23, 03:41pm

    Well said, DP. The only honest choice seems to be to let your freak flag fly.

  • Raven.thumb
    Andrew Bowen
    Dec 24, 06:37am

    "Freak flag." Brilliant.

  • Ken%20xmas%20hat.thumb
    Gabriel Orgrease
    Jan 02, 07:09pm

    Immediately after 9/11, and in my proximity to that geography, there were a few things one would think about before saying out loud, or to not say at all. The perspective that there is no longer a territory of transgressive creativity I consider to be politically naive.

    As mentioned here one reason that the arts survive, including the avant-garde is that they have been socially marginalized, set off into a spiritual and economic ghetto. This is not new, Stein and Hemingway both were wrestling with it. It is a place where faux transgression is encouraged for the very fact that it is flaccid. It feels transgressive but rarely does anyone who is able to talk about it get disappeared. When it breaks out, like a Madonna painted with human feces, it gets pushed back a bit.

    I can think of a number of directions a writer can work in that would prove suicidal to either their career, or their life.

    I enjoy birds, wild and otherwise. I live near the Atlantic Ocean and near to a National Wildlife Refuge... fortunate for me the birds do not know to stay on the reservation. A few times in my life I have rescued birds as discarded chicks and raised them up. I wrote to a friend how a baby bird had fallen out of the nest and that I had gone to some trouble to put it back in. Their response, they let nature do what nature does. So the next baby bird that I found on the walk in front of our house I did not rescue. In fact, what I did is get on my belly and lay on the ground with my camera and I made a video of the baby bird as it died.

    I wrote about it:

    "A fly walked around on the bird’s head and body. The baby bird, eyes shut would twitch to bother the fly. Then the bird would fall over and struggle to right itself. This went on for several minutes, fly, shake, fall over, twitch, and then right itself and sit breathing in and out as the small chest of gray and white plumes pumped like a miniature bellows. Finally the baby bird opened its mouth wide, bright yellow beak lips, silently, spread tiny wings fully, stretched and fluttered them as if to fly above the sidewalk and stretched out its hind legs straight behind, a bird that had never flown but only fallen out of its nest, a last motion of pushing between the twin pillars of life and nothing, and then it died."

    I suggested to meg that I was considering editing the video and posting it on YouTube. She advised me that it might not be a very smart move on my part.

  • Raallen.thumb
    R. A. Allen
    Jan 07, 10:12pm

    My OED defines Accroach: draw to oneself, acquire. So my guess is that Stein was saying Hemmy's story was not, what, not something she could enjoy? understand? hang on her wall? Was she speaking about the reading public of that day? For me, everything I ever tried to read by Stein was like reading ceiling tiles. This is an entertaining thread. Thanks for starting it, Edward.

  • Image.bedroom.009.expose.thumb
    Ann Bogle
    May 11, 12:46pm

    I bought Hemingway's Collected Short Stories and read "Up In Michigan" at last. The editor writes that it was the first short story Hemingway wrote at 22. Until I had finally read it, I had thought I would find it the best story ever written on the subject of what we now call "date rape." My inner editor is turned up high as I edit my own writing this month. I didn't think the story was "great," though I am a Hemingway appreciator. For a first story it may have been startling.

  • You must be logged in to reply.