Friday, May 08, 2009

Gertrude Stein on art outlaws

" Those who are creating the modern composition authentically are naturally only of importance when they are dead...For a very long time everybody refuses and then almost without a pause almost everybody accepts...The characteristic quality of a classic is that it is beautiful...of course it is wonderfully beautiful, only when it is still a thing irritating annoying stimulating then all quality of beauty is denied to it. Of course it is beatuiful but first all beauty is denied and then all the beauty of it is accepted. If everyone were not so indolent they would realize that beauty is beauty even when it is irritating and stimulating not only when it is accepted and classic. (Stein, 1926 in Composition as Explanation)


Anonymous said...

Love it.
anything + existence =
potential beauty

D. Sky Onosson said...


cara said...

She is also discussing (in this particular essay that I'm reading) something she calls the continuous present. pretty cool indeed.

micro said...

just the words 'continuous present' reminds me again of waking life (and maybe wristcutters a bit too)

Prairie Grown said...

Breathing that in.

c-present continuously said...

Continuous present is a misnomer.

And the idea of composition as explanation is a bit suspect to me.

Just sayin'.

D. Sky Onosson said...

A misnomer how?

P.S. In many languages (including English), present tense is the unmarked (default) state, past tense must be explicitly marked, and the future is not distinguished from the present. Just sayin'.

c-razor said...

Misnomer in that the present tense is the unmarked state, so to mark it as continuous I think is unnecessarily repetitive. While I get the point, I'm all about Occam's razor these days, so I was compelled to say something.

D. Sky Onosson said...

Continuous/progressive* aspect is distinct from present tense**.

1a. I am writing.
1b. I will have been writing.
1c. I had been writing.

Those are all in continuous/progressive aspect, but not all the same tense.

2a. I write every day.
2b. I am writing now.

These are both present (actually, non-past) tense, but different aspect (habitual and continuous, respectively).

* English does not distinguish between these, though apparently some languages do.

** The distinction between tense (the time when something happens, usually relative to the time of speaking) and aspect (internal time composition of a verb) is usually clearly marked in most languages (and all languages that I've ever looked at). In English, tense is marked with a suffix (-ed for regular verbs), while aspects (there are many) are usually marked with separate words preceding the main verb.

c-learns said...


cara said...

gives me even more to think about Sky!

I guess I was thinking about the continuous present in terms of the position of an individual in time, where we are always in our present, we aren't able to "be" in past or future...therefore neither can we compose or create in those two spaces...(actually I am sort of asking if others see that term in the same way, more question here than any kind of statement)

that being said: continuous present when we write or compose is kind of a mind blowing idea, like stream of consciousness or something, which I read that Gertrude did experiments about when she studied psychology...

c-enhanced said...

Well, as you know Cara, I think that we in fact can 'be' in the future, note the 'distal enhance' concept that I speak of often. The past of course is much more difficult, although to some extent we can right our wrongs, so this is a way of ameliorating the being of our past. Oh no, this is sounding like Heidegger's Being and Time, which is a book that definitely makes one feel like they are in a tortuous continuous present!

D. Sky Onosson said...

The study of linguistic aspect and tense is really interesting - I find it reveals things that are not obvious, even about the language one speaks fluently.

I did bring up all this linguistic stuff as an aside - I don't think it reveals reality so much as it reveals how people think and conceptualize.

Here's my favorite tense from the Wikipedia entry:

future-perfect-in-past tense: by some time which is in the future of some time in the past, e.g., Sally went to work; by the time she should be home, the burglary would have been completed.

cara said...

re: the past, we can never go back, I think when we right a wrong, that is an act of ameliorating the present relationship.

re: the future, ya I remember the distal enhance and remember feeling confused by many different presents makes some sense to me...

I see a conversation starting here (at least in my own head) between the concept of critical realism (or how CQ has explained it to me, which is that there is a reality) and social construction and all things post modern where there are infinite realities.
Not that those two things are mutually exclusive. as far as i can tell mind you.

I mean when I read what Sky said about language I immediately thought, well how we think and conceptualize and then write or talk about it is our reality, but then was pulled in another direction by the idea of affording the spoken/written word too much primacy...

I'm currently trying to learn about critical discourse analysis and how I might use it in my research into policy, but I feel like I'm coming at this subject with a huge deficit about linguistics...but yet I push on I guess.

cara said... being confused by the distal enhance is no reflection on your explanation, only my own muddled thinking.