A literary idiot

I just read an article written by Mike Gold titled ‘Gertrude Stein-A literary idiot’
As he says about her,

“She was looked upon by those who believed in her as the greatest revolutionist in the history of contemporary literature, and by those who scoffed as the perpetrator of a gigantic literary hoax”

How many people would fit into this description today, in our literary and art circles?

“The literary insanity of Gertrude Stein is a deliberate insanity which arises out of a false conception of the nature of art and of the function of language.

A leisure class, which exists on the labor of others, which has no function to perform in society except the clipping of investment coupons, develops ills and neuroses. It suffers perpetually from boredom. Their life is stale to them. Tasteless, inane, because it has no meaning. They seek new sensations, new adventures constantly in order to give themselves feelings.

The same process took place with the artists of the leisure class. Literature also bored them. They tried to suck out of it new sensations, new adventures.

They destroyed the common use of language. Normal ways of using words bored them. They wished to use words in a new, sensational fashion. They twisted grammar, syntax. They went in for primitive emotions, primitive art. Blood, violent death, dope dreams, soul-writhings, became the themes of their works.
(sound familiar?)

In Gertrude Stein, art became a personal pleasure, a private hobby, a vice. She did not care to communicate because essentially there was nothing to communicate. She had no responsibility except to her own inordinate cravings. She became the priestess of a cult with strange literary rites, with mystical secrets.

In this light, one can see that to Gertrude Stein and to the other artists like her, art exists in the vacuum of a private income. In order to pursue the kind of art, in order to be the kind of artist Gertrude Stein is, it is necessary to live in that kind of society which will permit one to have a private income from wealthy parents or sound investments. With this as a basis, you can write as you please. You can destroy language, mutilate grammar, rave or rant in the name of the higher knowledge. Nobody will disturb you. And in time perhaps you can impress or intimidate a certain number of critics and win a kind of reputation.

Gertrude Stein appears to have convinced America that she is a genius.

But Marxists refuse to be impressed with her own opinion of herself. They see in the work of Gertrude Stein extreme symptoms of the decay of capitalist culture. They view her work as the complete attempt to annihilate all relations between the artist and the society in which he lives.
They see in her work the same kind of orgy and spiritual abandon that marks the life of the whole leisure class.

What else does her work resemble more than the midnight revels of a stockbroker throwing a pent-house party for a few intimate friends? Would it be possible to have either of these symptoms of degeneration except in a society divided into classes? Is there not an “idle art” just as there is an “idle rich”? Both do nothing but cultivate the insanity of their own desires, both cultivate strange indulgences. The literary idiocy of Gertrude Stein only reflects the madness of the whole system of capitalist values. It is part of the signs of doom that are written largely everywhere on the walls of bourgeois society. “

I thought critics here could learn a lot from this style of writing-where the critique is clean, concise, lucid, laid out for everyone to read and understand, and yet the opinion of the writer is conveyed without question. no hemming and hawing, no thought of which sensibilities might be offended, no fear-only confidence and critical analysis.

A literary idiot

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calling artists part 2.

The response to the call for all artists to come forward has been amazingly brilliant! Thanks to all of you who I know spread the word and got people to participate-jelly marm J- ok so here’s an update.

A lot of people have responded, left me their e mail addresses etc. A lot of them are actually writers as well, which works well too, since we can pair them up with a visual artist. After some debate, by mutual consent it has been decided that the date for the exhibit should be January 8th, 2006, to coincide with the 3 month mark of the earthquake. This date gives us enough time to really conceptualize.

In the interest of moving forward i am putting a cut off date for participants to register-17th November 2005.

After the cut off, I thought it would make more sense to start a group e mail with the participants so that the ideas can flow, and real magic can begin. We can meet up and brainstorm, figure out direction etc.

So for now, thank you thank you thank you and I cant wait to see what everyone comes up with. Also i think it will be strangely fascinating to meet all the bloggers.

calling artists part 2.

calling artists

Continuing the art for a cause discussion, I came across a similar website organized in the US for hurricane Katrina and rita relief. It’s a brilliant site, and I think it explains what I was talking about. http://www.25abovewater.com

I have developed a vague mini brief for the project, so if all of you could forward this on, and ask interested persons to leave a comment here or on your sites with their e mail addresses. That way we can compile a list of people and kick start it. The details will be worked out and shared once we have a list of the eager artists. People like writers can participate too. It would be interesting to have them team up with a visual artist for a collaborative poster. We should try and hit as many working artists from the community.


for: artists/photographers/graphic designers/illustrators/painters/printmakers/architects/textile designers/writers/

why: for the art community to come together, produce some memorable works of art, and sell them to benefit the relief efforts.

dynamics: the artists will be given a timeframe within which to produce the poster/art design and then all designs will be posted on a website to be sold. An exhibition of the posters will also be organized.

calling artists