Gertie Stein

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vic-k
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Fri May 21, 2010 6:17 pm Post

:|
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vic-k
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Fri May 21, 2010 6:43 pm Post

Somewhere deep inside, where the gut feelings reside, I have a minuscule, but, growing knot of discomfort, nudging me t'wards the belief, that old Gert, wants us to concentrate our ponderings upon her use of the word, sequence, as opposed to, sentence.

Her quote, at first glance, at least as I read it, is telling us it,s a no-brainer, that a sequence of words has to be a pleasure. That's, any, sequence of words, e.g., faecal fats septic tank cesspit nasal mucous slime vomit putrefaction decay stench miasma debtors prison repossession sewerage sludge. Only Paul the quiet one, could find anything pleasure inducing in that lot.

However, on my second reading, I felt she was questioning my first assumption. Then I reread, and returned to my first impression. I think it`s a paean to the most sophisticated means of communication, in the known universe as we so far know it.
Vic
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Sat May 22, 2010 4:51 am Post

Gertie said:
‘Why should a sequence of words be anything but a pleasure?’


Greg said:
It seems clear that they are there as much for the music they make, for the trance pattern they are a part of, as for any new advance they make to the content of the text.


And then he continued:
but, really, on no plausible interpretation is Stein asserting that every [sequence of words --edit for v-k] is a pleasure


As I said before there's too little context to truly see what she's talking about. But contrary to Greg's second statement, the use of 'a sequence' indicates to me she is stating a general case. As Greg pointed out in the first quote, much of what she writes appears focused on the sound, euphony, and cadence of the words with oblique attention paid to the overall meaning. I contend that she does that well, but her statement is questionable: the meaning of some sequences of words, no matter how pleasing their aural structure, can evoke distinct displeasure in the reader.

Well, in any case, angels dancing on pins, here.

Dave

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Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:58 am Post

"Weedy Legion"

Not everyone used to think highly of Gertrude Stein. See British poet and critic Hugh Sykes Davies in 1936, in Jacket magazine 20, at

http://jacketmagazine.com/20/hsd-stein.html

Hugh Sykes Davies: review of Narration. By Gertrude Stein. (The University of Chicago Press.) 11s.6d. [Eleven shillings and sixpence.] This piece was first published in ‘Books of the Quarter’, in Criterion, 15/61, July 1936, pages 752–5. It is 1,700 words or about four printed pages long.

Excerpt:

"In fact all Miss Stein’s old virtues have forsaken her. The trick of constant repetition which gave pleasure when it was used in prose with no rational end, for purely aesthetic purposes, has adapted itself very ill to the making of statements with meaning. It is bad enough to hear a silly theory advanced once, it is agony to hear it advanced twenty times in quick succession. And the faults which have sprung up in the ground left vacant by the dead virtues are a weedy legion—the vagueness of conception, slackness of thought, the endeavour to make commonplace views impressive by gesticulation and emphasis. It is a pity."

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nom
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Sat Aug 07, 2010 4:12 am Post

vic-k wrote:The following sentence, credited to Gertrude Stein, oozes ambiguity from where I`m sitting. For the life of me, I can`t find an explanation by Stein, as to what she actually meant: Why should a sequence of words be anything but a pleasure?’

Could any of Scriv`s illustrious scriobhneiors offer assistance?
Thank you
Vic.


An attempt at a rational response: It seems that Ms Stein is not saying that every sequence of words is a pleasure, but is asking why shouldn't it be? That is, as writers, why should we not always write pleasurable sequences of words? And to that I say, "Amen".

I want to write fiction and poetry, instead I am writing a doctoral thesis. As punishment for my sins, I need to read undergraduate papers to earn income while I write. Hence I KNOW the pain that can be inflicted by sequences of words*. But then, occasionally, comes a paper that is a pleasure to read. Not poetry. But clear, articulate, and a pleasure to read.

I always aspire to write well, because ‘Why should a sequence of words be anything but a pleasure?’. Sometimes I might even get close.

*The same also applies to published academic papers, but at least they are (usually) well edited.
Complete and utter NOMsense.
Image

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vic-k
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Sat Aug 07, 2010 7:58 pm Post

Obviously, without contextual qualification, it`s impossible to know exactly what she meant.
I was just wondering where the quote came from.
Anyway, thank you all for your input. :wink:
Take care
Vic
As a professional, you, are your one and only asset. Without integrity you are worthless, but with it, you are priceless.