Stein's remarks on composition: modernism and history

	Wed, 13 Oct 1999 12:05:55 -0400 (EDT)



On the question of "history" and modernism. This is a huge, tough
question. I'm almost sorry I raised it! It's particularly difficult to
think of Stein's writing in relation to what might be called the
"historical imperative." She does raise the issue in her generalizations
on composition but she only inconsistently *applies* the idea in her
writing. I'd only say this, by way of a start on the topic: 

		a language-conscious or language-centered
		or language-sensitive or linguistically self-reflexive
		modernist piece of writing is going to
		convey a sense of the way 'the social' is
		constructed through the words people use.

That's the kind of historical immediacy--living history through
composition--Stein means *at* *the* *very* least. I don't know if the
above makes sense, but I tried.

Remember the last lines of the Picasso portrait. What "history" (that is
to say, historians or writers of history) needs to understand about itself
is that

		its process is narrative.

Never assume narrative as natural; never naturalize narrative. If you do,
the grammar will turn and attack you!


Al had written:
 |The one place where "Metro" fails to embody Stein's high standards for
 |what composition my favorite part:
 |of the time in which they are living
 |--a phrase that seems to suggest that the composition must be historical
 |in some sense; must show the traces or inscriptions of history. "Metro" I
 | think fails on that score.

Alberto responded:
> How historical is historical?  Pound's poem (and its title) is well placed
> in a recognizable historical moment.  It doesn't seem to have the weight of
> a momentous event, no kings nor wars, but it does have universality.  What
> does "traces or inscriptions of history" mean?

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