Wednesday, October 5, 2011


You know that old joke that goes: You know who you look like?
Gertrude Stein.

That's the only thing I've ever heard about her. That and feminist.

And that's it. The buck stops at feminist.

Feminist: (noun/adjective) anyone without a penis who does whatever the fuck she wants to do.

I'm not saying I have enjoyed her readings, exactly. Though I'm more intrigued, now.

Mostly, I'm marveling at the lack of conversations that make it to the tables I've occupied. In the way of superheroes - whose story does and doesn't get told over brew and poem talks. The history that doesn't make it to my ear. This, of course, is my fault. I never looked her up. I've relied on too much word of mouth. Her visitations with the GI's reminds me of Johnny Cash and his travels to prisons. And Cash was a cowboy, wasn't he. (Though I don't think he ever had a horse.) Stein's venerable guitar was just a host of words coiled around words. Nouns, mostly. As she might put it. Nouns broken down into repetitions of more nouns to poem the nouns. That, and apparently, she threw a great cocktail party.

There's nothing terribly sexy about nouns. Or repetition. We like to imagine the poetic zorro (with penis) as a wielder of complex newness-es that do nothing over again. With a vocabulary that nears science, and their complicated grammatic structures, they twirl rhythms and mind-splitting anacronisms with ease. Who ride off into the proverbial sunset and leave behind them a trail of shadowy phrasings (no one can quite remember how they put it, so deft) panting vixens, pretty homebodies and (we know, though not part of this iconic sketch) snotty-nosed timesucks, whom at least have history to look forward to.

I am the daughter of an Artist. He went off to the world to vex the masses with his witty tongue. I was quite young. I am over the hurt. And have his legacy, which lives on in my blood.

Meanwhile, Stein had her tongue stuffed into Alice B. Toklas. For life. Collected artworks and amassed even more money that kept her family in happy food, and famous artistic circles, and kept her pen to paper. Not terribly sexy I guess.

Prince has a song called "Joy of Repetition", which as much as I like it, does contribute to the reason why I liken him to the Spike Lee's of the world - their image of chicks as a one-way looking glass. Saying:

Love me. Love me. Love me. (She said) Love me.


Anonymous said...

I'm so stealing your definition of feminist. Love this.

Anonymous said...

The problem with this definition of feminism is that it is not inclusive of bodies and genders that don't fit common boxes. There are, for example, many people w/o penises that are NOT "she"s. There are also many female socialized people who have penises. And, whatever their socialization may be, there are womyn with penises. And then still there are people w/o penises who were not female socialized. And there are people who, regardless of their socialization, are not womyn but also do not have penises (who may use a variety of pronouns). All of these different subsets of people may do whatever the fuck they wanna do, and may resist and _experience_ patriarchy. There has been much work done over the years to move feminism away from some of its transphobic and cis-supremacist threads and this work needs to continue to be done.