Entries in Gertrude Stein (2)


Aquarians question Identity

Broken Obelisk, Barnett Newman (Jan 29, 1912)
de nobis ipsis silemus
(Of ourselves we are silent.) Francis Bacon 22 Jan 1561

"Subjective, objective -- what's the difference? William Burroughs February 5, 1914

“WHAT AM I? NOTHING.” Lord Byron 22 January 1788

"Who in the world am I?" asked Alice. "Ah! That's the great Puzzle."
Lewis Carroll 27 January 1832

Thus the famous theory of the *I* is essentially without a scientific object, since it is destined to represent a purely fictitious state.

Individualism is the disease of the Western World. Auguste Comte 19 January 1798

Behold a universe so immense that I am lost in it. I no longer know where I am. I am just nothing at all. Bernard de Fontenelle 11 February 1657

None of us possesses his own self: it is wafted at us from without, escapes us for long periods and returns to us in a breath. We are no more than dove-cotes. And self indeed! The word is very little more than a metaphor. 

 Hugo von Hofmannsthal February 1, 1874

 The first-person singular is my favorite figure of speech.

Charles Lamb   February 10, 1775

"I" is the true shibboleth of humanity. Stendhal January 23, 1783

Is me her was you dreamed before?
Was then she him you us since knew?
Am all them and same now we?

Whence it is a sloperish matter, given the wet and low visibility (since in this scherzerade of one's thousand one nightinesses the sword of certainty which would indentifide the body never falls) to indentifine the individuone.                           James Joyce 2 February 1882

Ego! It is the great word of the twentieth century. . . Everything we
have done in this century, from monumental feats to nightmare of human
destruction, has been a function of that extraordinary state of the
psyche which gives us authority to declare we are sure of ourselves when
we are not. Norman Mailer January 31, 1923

It was when I read the first of the books I found in my house that I saw
the word "I." And when I understood this word, the book fell from my
hands, and I wept, I who had never known tears. I wept in deliverance
and in pity for all mankind. Ayn Rand February 2 1905 from her novel Anthem, which portrays a dystopian future where the first person singular has been abolished)

WE, a 1924 novel by the soviet writer Evgeny Zamyatin February 20, 1884, about a dystopian future where the first person singular has been abolished)

WE, the autobiography of Charles Lindbergh February 4, 1902

I, etcetera. a book of short stories by Susan Sontag January 29, 1933

And identity is funny being yourself is funny as you are never yourself to yourself except as you remember yourself and then of course you do not believe yourself. The minute you or anyone else knows what you are you are not it. You are what you or anybody else knows that you are and as everything in living is made up of finding out what you are it is extraordinarily difficult really not to know what you are and yet to be that thing.

I am me because my little dog knows me. Gertrude Stein February 3, 1874

She would make him stand with her in front of the looking glass and ask him why he barked and trembled. Was not the little brown dog opposite himself? But what is “oneself”? Is it the thing people see? Or is it the thing one is? So Flush pondered that question, too . . . Virginia Woolf (25 January 1882): Flush, a Dog

Before her death Virginia Woolf planned a next novel to be called

"In revising his youthful poems, Georg Trakl (3 February 1887) substitutes everywhere for the
lyrical and personal "I" metaphoric disguises such as "the stranger," "a thing putrified," "a dead thing," "the murderer." .. . . the poet has abstracted everything unesssential, including the personal pronoun "I"
from his existence . ."

The self is only the shadow which sin and error cast by stopping the light of God—and I take this shadow for a being. Simone Weil 3 February 1909



Palin: There's no there there

 Aquarian Gertrude Stein’s comment about her hometown, Oakland CA,  “There is no there there.” points to the distinctly Aquarian imprint of Palin’s personality: daffy, wacky, spacey, airhead. This variation of unformedness of personality is the demeanor of a particular female Aquarian stereotype: disconcerting, saucer-eyed, strange-voiced, unblinking. Mia Farrow, Carol Channing, Tammy Grimes, Farrah Fawcett, Vanna White, Paris Hilton, with Palin’s own distinctive spunk, and telegenic skin.

 Palin’s got fully five of the seven bodies of the classical solar system located in the single sign of Aquarius. Gertrude Stein had a sizeable imbalance of Aquarius as well. Recall that she wrote her life story in the third person and in the guise of the autobiography of someone else. Her lesser known sequel was a book called “Everybody’s Autobiography”. Aquarians try to wiggle out of acknowledging there’s a Self there. Their sense of self is weak, they may diffuse their selves to include multitudes, or they may defend to the death against their oceanic insecurities, with a kewpie doll (or bow-tie) persona, or a shiny new, pre-fabricated belief system. Radical Aquarian Norman Mailer narrates his experience in the third person as a character named Aquarius in “Of a Fire on the Moon”; Chapter one is called “A Loss of Self”. Reactionary Aquarius historian Henry Adams narrates his great autobiography in the third person too. Two radical Russian distopias by Aquarian writers envisioned worlds in which the “I” is banished: Ayn Rand in “Anthem” and Zamyatin in “We”. [1924.  SciFi collectors: Banned by the Soviets, it first appeared in English translated by Gregory Zilboorg. I have a rare copy of the first edition at whokilledkenny books.]