Why Do Something If It Can Be Done: Quoting Gertrude Stein # 9

“One cannot come back too often to the question what is knowledge and to the answer knowledge is what one knows.” (“Lectures in America”)

Post # 9. So, Gertrude (with Alice, of course) is back in her country and there will be a lot of firsts: she is filmed by Pathé News at the Algonquin Hotel (she quotes “Pigeons on the grass, alas”), signs books at Brentano’s, has her first radio broadcast at the NBC Studio in New York, and takes her first airplane flight: “…when I looked at the earth I saw all the lines of cubism made at a time when not any painter had ever gone up in an airplane. I saw there on the earth the mingling lines of Picasso, coming and going, developing and destroying themselves, I saw the wandering lines of Masson, yes I saw and once more I knew that a creator is contemporary, he understands what is contemporary when the contemporaries do not yet know it…”
She is interviewed by a dashing young reporter named Walter Cronkite, she has photo sessions with Carl van Vechten and later, at the Hotel Mark Hopkins in San Francisco, with Imogen Cunningham. She starts her lecture tour in NY, speaking first to members of the Museum of Modern Art. She sees “Lohengrin” and “Salome” at the Chicago Grand Opera, but more importantly, the Chicago premiere of her own opera,”Three Saints in Four Acts” (conducted by its composer, Virgil Thomson) at the Auditorium Theatre. She has tea with Eleanor Roosevelt, eats “superlative lemon pies” and enjoys being a “lion”: “It was pleasant being a lion, and meeting the people who make it pleasant to you to be a lion.”
We can leave her for a moment and come back, in my next blog post, to how I learned to read Gertrude Stein…
Stay tuned.

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