In Uncategorized on March 21, 2010 at 2:42 pm

I will be in Leeds on Friday 26th March for the Yorkshire launch of RITE. The book is the outcome of the nine month long Critical Communities project organised by Open Dialogues and New Work Network.  Two groups of writers – in London and Leeds – met to explore the practice of critical writing on and as new work.  

Click here to buy RITE. 

Following on from a series of micro-presentations where each member had two minutes to showcase their work and interests,  the London group members commissioned small pieces of writing from one another.  The following piece of writing was commissioned by Mary Paterson, after I causally remarked in a Bloomsbury hotel bar that “Twitter is Gertrude Stein for year 2009.”

I have updated this bold statement – and my attempt to substantiate it – for its re-publishing here, although I haven’t twittered since I wrote it, so maybe the trans-historical zeitgeist it describes is 2009 specific.

Gertrude Stein uses Twitter. She doesn’t call it that. 

Gertrude Stein lost the continuous present. Then she found it again. She called it twitter.

Alice B Toklas thinks the whole thing is ridiculous. She sends the occasional e-mail, but nothing more.

Gertrude Stein twitters all day and night. 

Gertrude Stein twitters in the park the park.

Twitter twitters twitters twitters twitters.

Gertrude Stein says a text is a text but twitter.

She is aware that it is easy to parody what one is parodying.

That it is not necessarily funny to be funny when one is being funny or not being.

Gertrude Stein knows the limits of twitter.

And all those who twitter in 2010 are being Gertrude Stein.

They are not being Alice B Toklas of that Alice B Toklas is very clear.

And so is Gertrude Stein. Gertrude Stein is very clear.

And to say “I am eating my lunch” is to be Alice B Toklas.

But to say “I am eating my lunch and it is a brown cow” that is Gertrude Stein.

And it is Twitter if it is 140 characters or less.

Which it is. And 2009 is. And Gertrude is but not Alice. 

Gertrude Stein is so into twitter that she has terminated her MySpace profile. 

Gertrude Stein still uses Google Chat but only practically.

It is twitter that offers Gertrude Stein the chance to connect to her earliest work such as Tender Buttons.

The space of the rectangle and the character limit define a space the mind can move through writing

The space defines and the space is to be filled and in so doing it is defined

Which is like a city or a global economy and Gertrude Stein knows it.

Gertrude Stein knows it is also the war.

She knows it is it when it is and Twitter is isn’t it.

Gertrude Stein has many followers on Twitter although not Ernest Hemingway who is dead.

Gertrude Stein follows nobody.

Some suspect that Gertrude Stein might not be Gertrude Stein.

Some suspect that Gertrude Stein is Penelope Cruz.

Gertrude Stein knows that she is Gertrude Stein.

Gertrude Stein knows that she has always been Gertrude Stein and that the accumulated mass of her tweets proves it.

Gertrude Stein says you can always tell a true Mondrian from a copy and hence she is Gertrude Stein.

Gertrude Stein knows that Twitter proves she was right all along.

Alice B Toklas thinks most of Gertrude Steins followers look like idiots.

Gertrude Stein agrees but only looked very quickly.

Gertrude Stein is twittering now and has twittered and is.

Gertrude Stein and the twitter rectangle right now.

Twitter twitter twitter twitter twitter twitter.

Gertrude Stein would like to tell Picasso about twitter but he has most fortunately.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas at home in 1923, pre-Twitter.


RITE will be launched at PSL Gallery Leeds on the evening of March 26 2010 6.30-8pm. The event will include propositions on the subject of art writing and live readings by RITE contributors. Contact or for more information and to reserve your place on the guest list. The launch is presented by ‘In a word’, part of the York-based curatorial agency Writing Encounters  and supported by New Work Network and PSL (Project Space Leeds).

RITE Contributors include Emma Bennett, David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham and Alex Eisenberg, Emma Cocker, Hannah Crosson, Amelia Crouch, Chloe Dechery, Tim Jeeves, Emma Leach, Johanna Linsley, Joanna Loveday, Charlotte Morgan, Mary Paterson, Jim Prevett, Nathan Walker and Wood McGrath.

  1. Wonderful riff! We are linked by Zeitgeist and Berlin: See my blog on daily tweets by Proust, Joyce, Pound and Stein:

  2. […] are being Gertrude Stein. …” There you have it. And if you would like to read on, go to Gertie would have liked it. She thinks we could replace 2010 with 2020. Just as […]

  3. […] are being Gertrude Stein. …” There you have it. And if you would like to read on, go to… Gertie would have liked it. She thinks we could replace 2010 with 2020. Just as […]

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