Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein
Woman with a brilliant mind
Showing posts with label orchestra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label orchestra. Show all posts

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Old Violin

A writer should write with his eyes and a painter paint with his ears --Gertrude Stein

And that's the trouble with school. I have children in school. I've been in this school system. They try to teach children to write with their ears and to paint with their eyes. I suppose that's the first and most direct way to go about it, but if I ran the system I'd start with the children learning and exploring with their ears and their eyes instead of trying to get them to read at an ever younger age.

Our eyes don't truly see. To paint with only your eyes is to paint inaccurately. You have to forget all about what your brain is telling you your eyes are seeing, and you have to measure the space between the nose and the eyes and then gauge the tones and textures like you would music in a way. You respond to music by just taking in what comes to you and mixing that with yourself a little bit. It's the same with visual arts.

And then, with writing you have to start where all meaning starts. Your mind works in pictures and then uses words to communicate something about your mental picture or the feeling you want to pass on. Words can get in the way of that. You have to use words not like a series of labels on containers of what you're talking about. Instead you should try to find the pictures you already possess, with your colors and keys. That's the joy of reading. Alas, what I see being taught in school is like an instruction manual. You skip over most of the already-known until you find just the snip of information you were looking for.

That's kind of lonely in a way.

Gertrude goes to orchestra concerts a lot these days. One orchestra is composed of young musical talents working on becoming stars of the orchestra world, and the students are honed sharp as knives. They play exactly and precisely, and they obey the conductor precisely. Backstage they are still teenagers, forming alliances and raising suspicions of anyone different. They stare at outsiders, because that is a teenager's mental construct.

It seems like the youthful days are times in life when the elders of the community want to use that young energy and those good looks, and in exchange they want to make something of the raw material. Opportunity abounds to be honed and used. Gertrude had her day of youth and usefulness to the elders. But how long did those days last? Afterward she started to feel invisible, marginalized, alienated. She had to overcome those things because there just had to be more to life once the sharp edge of the knife had gone dull.

The other orchestra Gertrude sees now is composed of mature people who come together from across the community to play beautiful music together. They aren't as precise. They obey the conductor and add a split-second nuance of their own. Gertrude enjoys the older players more because their tone and style was much sweeter, and they are friends. She can tell by the way they look at one another at the end of the show. They stand up and bow, and they seem pleased to have played this great work they'd been working on.

What is it they say about old violins? They play richer and sweeter. Old dogs are sweeter than puppies. Old rock stars play much cooler than young ones, and sound better. Gertrude hopes that old broads would be known for being able to give love, rather than for being loved. And since the days of youthful sharpness are over, she can't say she's really being loved for her body. That ended. Now she has to love from her being, and hope someone else can feel that kind of love. It can't be described.

Guest Gertrude of the Day: Michelle Pfeiffer, who comes back on the scene every few years more beautiful than ever, more poised, less reliant on her looks, more balanced and more womanly. What a lost quality--womanliness. Michelle is the opposite of the porn star beauty role model. May she never have lip implants.