There are no questions in Gertrude Stein. Many readers who notice this find it perplexing, possibly off-putting, since it is as difficult to write without questions as it is to read a text without them.
Why is the point of this blog post here, which proposes that questions aren’t simply reserved for humans, but the engine that runs “Why?” might be. Other species are capable of asking Why, but their curiosity is often quickly satiated. Because it lacks a mark indicating that it’s a Why, the following doglike thought is no longer a question — Where is the missing ball. “Where” is a general indication of place, but a question mark demands further explanation. Much of language begs for further clarification.
Children love questions, and so do I. I use them all the time in my critical writing. Given my status as a critic, I feel it is my job to ask Why. Therapists often ask Why. They will not explain for you. Is Stein therapeutic.
Today is International Workers’ Day. I spent it teaching and will spend the rest figuring out how I want to work. In this cynical day and age, we receive the invitation to avoid loafing with suspicion. Is the advisor is actually numbing me into complacency, hoping I’ll become a cog in the machine? Guess I’d better get back to work! But we forget that work is a nurturing aspect of our being. Yes, we must work, but also must work with intention. I view the worker with respect and dignity.
An advisor in a New York Times article about advising first-time Tinder users was said to have helped a garbage man in Westchester. She picked out new clothes for him, hoping he’d be more presentable to women. His before picture, a selfie taken from the driver’s seat of a municipal garbage truck, wasn’t apparently good enough. I thought he looked handsome. The guru sanitized his effect, leaving him just like the others, primed for dating. I feel for the garbage man and his future mate. He just wants to play with his dog and feel loved, but was forced into a photo shoot that will direct attention away from the impression of who he is: a laborer with a job that smells.
Many Marxists and Bernie Bros are accused of their laddish intellectualizing — “Mansplaining.” We all know what it’s like to be told what to do in a patronizing way. But as a man who keeps things to himself, I am called to wonder: Why not be proud of what you know, why not urge yourself to share it with others? Is this true of the affective dimension? I need to work, but I find myself distracted by emotional matters, and therefore I do not conduct my worker at full force. My work is intellectual, and the things that I know share space with my emotions. This is my excuse. Why not think with the body? I think better when I’m moving. I’ll bet the sanitized garbage man thinks better while he’s moving, too.
Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)
“As above, so below. The human being finds himself, or herself, in the middle. There is as much space outside the human, proportionately, as inside.
Stars, moons, and planets remind us of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Is there a bigger being walking with all the stars within? Does our thinking affect what goes on outside us, and what goes on inside us? I think it does.
Where does creamed corn figure into the workings of the universe?
What really is creamed corn? Is it a symbol for something else?”
– The Log Lady