Sommige namen spreken meer tot de verbeelding dan andere. De naam Gertrude Stein heeft altijd tot mijn verbeelding gesproken. Haar naam meer dan haar werk. Hoewel ik de grap en het postmoderne van The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas lang geleden al inzag. Die als autobiografie van haar geliefde vermomde autobiografie is het meest leesbare dat ik tot nu toe van haar kende – maar ik geef onmiddellijk toe dat je je ook op die schijnbare eenvoud kunt verkijken.
Haar gedichten zijn verre van eenvoudig. Wat ze wilde was kubistisch schrijven. Ik zag dat nooit. Ik vond woorden in los en soms in geen verband. Tot ik haar gedichten hoorde voordragen. Of het daardoor kwam of door de schilderijen weet ik niet, maar in een keer begreep ik het: de twee dimensies (in plaats van drie), het herschikken van beelden en het maken van wonderlijke uitsneden. Zo deden de schilders die kind aan huis bij haar waren – Picasso voorop – het ook.
Aan Picasso wijdde zij het gedicht If I told him: a complete portrait of Picasso:
If I told him would he like it. Would he like it if I told him.
Would he like it would Napoleon would Napoleon would would he like it.
If Napoleon if I told him if I told him if Napoleon. Would he like it if I told him if I told him if Napoleon. Would he like it if Napoleon if
Napoleon if I told him. If I told him if Napoleon if Napoleon if I told him. If I told him would he like it would he like it if I told him.
Exactly as as kings.
Feeling full for it.
Exactitude as kings.
So to beseech you as full as for it.
Exactly or as kings.
Shutters shut and open so do queens. Shutters shut and shutters and so shutters shut and shutters and so and so shutters and so shutters shut
and so shutters shut and shutters and so. And so shutters shut and so and also. And also and so and so and also.
Exact resemblance to exact resemblance the exact resemblance as exact as a resemblance, exactly as resembling, exactly resembling, exactly
in resemblance exactly a resemblance, exactly and resemblance. For this is so. Because.
Now actively repeat at all, now actively repeat at all, now actively repeat at all.
Have hold and hear, actively repeat at all.
I judge judge.
As a resemblance to him.
Who comes first. Napoleon the first.
Who comes too coming coming too, who goes there, as they go they share, who shares all, all is as all as as yet or as yet.
Now to date now to date. Now and now and date and the date.
Who came first Napoleon at first. Who came first Napoleon the first. Who came first, Napoleon first.
Exactly as they do.
Exactly as they do too.
And first exactly.
Exactly as they do.
And first exactly and exactly.
And do they do.
At first exactly and first exactly and do they do.
The first exactly.
At first exactly.
First as exactly.
At first as exactly.
As as presently.
He he he he and he and he and and he and he and he and and as and as he and as he and he. He is and as he is, and as he is and he is, he is
and as he and he and as he is and he and he and and he and he.
Can curls rob can curls quote, quotable.
As proportions as presently.
Father and farther.
Was the king or room.
Farther and whether.
Was there was there was there what was there was there what was there was there there was there.
Whether and in there.
As even say so.
As a so.
They as denote.
Play fairly well.
As or as presently.
Let me recite what history teaches. History teaches.
Hier leest Gertrude Stein haar gedicht If I told him: a complete portrait of Picasso:
Gertrude Stein woonde het grootste deel van haar leven in Frankrijk. De taal bleef haar vreemd, dat speet Picasso zeer, hij kon haar daardoor niet lezen. In The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas tekent zij uit de mond van Alice B. Toklas het volgende op:
‘When I first knew Gertrude Stein I was surprised never to see a french book on her table, although there were always plenty of english ones, there were even no french newspapers. But do you never read french, I as well as many other people asked her. No, she replied, you see I feel with my eyes and it does not make any difference to me what language I hear, I don’t hear a language, I hear tones of voices and rhythms, but with my eyes I see words and sentences and there is for me only one language and that is english. One of the things that I have liked all these years is to be surrounded by people who know no english. It has left me more intensely alone with my eyes and my English. I do not know if it would have been possible to have English be so all in all to me otherwise. And they none of them could read a word I wrote, most of them did not even know that I did write. No, I like living with so very many people and being all alone with english and myself.’