Monday, June 14

Pavel Tchelitchew

"Will you excuse me for my English which is not very clear, which has accent. I speak several languages, they all have accents. I can't help it. I'll tell you why. Because artists, we do not think with words. We work with forms, not with words. Musicians work with sounds, also not with words. So you forgive me about that, please. And besides, I must tell you that I have to speak sometimes about myself, and you forgive me that, too because I saw her, I talked to her, and not to somebody else. And I don't want you to ask me any questions. My pet hate is questions and you understand why, because I come here as a friend. And it's all about private life, about our relations and friendship, and it is not at all a subject of public discussion. I'll tell to you what I want to tell, and I will not tell you what I don't want to tell. So would Gertrude Stein, you will not get out of her anything what she wouldn't like to tell you. There is an enigma in every relation, and in every friendship, and in every reverence. But whatever I have to say I hope it will not be obscure, and it will not be puzzling or confusing because . . . I will tell you and reply [to] you with some words by your writer Thoreau, who said, 'do not suppose I have a taint of obscurity.' I will speak about Gertrude Stein as a poet, great, famous, and courageous person -- figure. Well, speaking about poetry, it is very difficult to say. Where is the climate of poetry? Where is it that poetry originates? It is very difficult to explain to you. You know very well it starts from the forgotten past of the magic ritual. In the words of the high priest, the words that contained life and death, fear and happiness. As priest, the words that contained life and death, fear and happiness. As it says in the fairytales about the Firebird, it's beyond the Seven Seas. At the end of the night -- at the end of the night there is the garden of Hesperides. And there grow the trees, the apples of eternity. You see, it's all very far and it's all very strange and what I have to say seems to you probably strange. I am like an old folklore storyteller. So, I will try to explain [to] you my point of view about this very strange, unusual thing -- what is poetical inspiration -- because the sources of poetical inspiration are equal for us, and for composers, and for poets. And I hope I will not be confusing, and I hope I will not confuse you more that I am confused, it is not me who's confused -- they simply don't understand. And also I would like to prove to Miss Alice B. Toklas, the faithful companion of Gertrude Stein, that painters not only paint but also can think sometimes. Well, here we are."

--Pavel Tchelitchew

by way of introducing remarks concerning his memories of Gertrude Stein

Martin A. Ryerson Lecture, Yale University, Feb. 20, 1951
in Gertrude Stein Remembered
[Lincoln, Nebraska: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1994]

Tuesday, June 1

David Samuels

Local Color

"I arrived in Nis midmorning. The highway leading into town was empty and lined with stores selling motorbikes and diet supplements. The city felt far removed from Belgrade, with its Austro-Hungarian facades and well-ordered criminality. Nis was wilder, and had more of an ethnic mix: Albanians, Macedonians, Gypsies. The city's most famous landmark is the Skull Tower, which was built by the Turks, in 1809, out of quicklime, sand, and nine hundred and fifty-two skulls of Serbian fighters. On the uneven sidewalks, girls in heavy makeup tottered along in high heels, their loutish boyfriends following closely behind."

--David Samuels

fr. "The Pink Panthers: A tale of diamonds, thieves, and the Balkans"

in The New Yorker [April 12, 2010]