Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Popcock!" said Gertrude Stein.

With this unusually lucid and brief remark the writer who has grown famous for her "a rose is a rose is a rose" style dismissed recent efforts of scientists to explain her work.

"Popcock is popcock is science is popcock," Miss Stein might have been expected to say. But she did not, according to her report. For once, she failed to repeat herself or to bewilder her hearers.

The scientific explanation is that her writing is done with her wrist and not with her mind. Automatic writing is the scientific term for it. Miss Stein not only disagrees, but takes the view that her writing does not need explaining.

If you have seen her play, "Four Saints in Three Acts," or have read ay of her other strange writings, you probably feel that she needs as much explaining as that other famous "stein"—Einstein—who also always draws a capacity crowd but whom hardly anyone in the audience understands.

    —Jane Stafford, "Gertrude Stein Explained," Science News-Letter, 2 March 1935


Will Fitzgerald said...

I would love to read the editorial you quoted on Twitter about infantilism and rhyme from the JAMA.

Natalia said...

Oh yes; it's a gem -- sending it now. The best part is that the author pronounces in the end that a hundred years hence, nobody will be quoting Stein or Joyce the way they quote Tennyson.

Quote. Tennyson.

Extra amusement: Stein gets quoted a fair number of times in JAMA itself over the years (often "rose is a rose is a rose"), not to pathologize Stein's writing but in the way that one might quote Tennyson, back in the days when people quoted Tennyson.

(Not fair, I guess. I have some use for "I am aweary, aweary,/I would that I were dead!," usually while grading.)