Susan Sontag on modernism

[T]he point of Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircause" is not so much to represent anything, much less a nude, descending a staircase, as to teach a lesson on how natural forms may be broken into a series of kinetic planes. The point of the prose works of Stein and Beckett is to show how diction, punctuation, syntax, and narrative order can be rcast to express continuous impersonal states of consciousness. The point of the music of Webern and Boulez is to show how, for example, the rhythmical function of silence and the structural role of tone colors can be developed.

from "Nathalie Sarraute and the novel" (1963), collected in Against Interpretation, pp. 100-01