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“The megaphone of destiny—” composition, voice, and multitude in the auditory avant-garde of the Twentieth… Michalak, Tomasz Zbigniew 2013

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    “THE MEGAPHONE OF DESTINY—” COMPOSITION, VOICE, AND MULTITUDE IN THE AUDITORY AVANT-GARDE OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: GERTRUDE STEIN, SAMUEL BECKETT, JOHN CAGE, AND FRANK ZAPPA  by Tomasz Zbigniew Michalak B.A., Simon Fraser University, 1999 M.A., Simon Fraser University, 2001     A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE  REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies  (English Literature)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) December 2013 © Tomasz Zbignew Michalak, 2013 ii  ABSTRACT This thesis traces the critical history of the term ‘auditory turn.’ Following Marshall McLuhan, I argue that the emergence of sound and sound-oriented concepts in Twentieth-Century literature and culture exemplifies a paradigm shift in the way a literary text operates. This shift affects not just literature but forms of literacy and literary analysis. By drawing on McLuhan’s notions like ‘the scandal of cubism’ and the ‘acoustic space’ as well as Walter Ong’s ‘secondary orality’ along with subsequent research in media and sound studies, I examine a group of selected works that manifest the idea of auditory text, a text characterized by performative sonority, aspiring to the condition of music. The thesis offers four ‘representative anecdotes’ of the ‘auditory turn’ in avant-garde and experimental literature, Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett, John Cage, and Frank Zappa, each of which is engaged in a separate chapter. Chapter 1 draws on the relationship between sound and presence and landscape as it applies to Stein’s ideas concerning composition and landscape theatre. Chapter 2 turns to selected short prose works of Beckett to demonstrate the attention to sound in the way in which the problem of voice as a marker of self preoccupies Beckett. Chapter 3 examines selected writings of John Cage that engage the problem of sound and voice both theoretically, as themes addressed critically, and in his practice of using voice as an instrument. Chapter 4 directs critical attention to Frank Zappa’s writings as well as musical compositions that explicitly engage the issue of sound, voice, and noise in popular culture. The four chapters help develop systematically the structural argument of the thesis concerning the interface of sound, text, and image, demonstrating this interface to manifest in three related ways, as composition, voice, and multitude (also referred to as peopling).   iii  PREFACE This thesis contains original, independent, and never previously published work by Tomasz Michalak.     iv  TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT .................................................................................................................................. ii PREFACE.. ................................................................................................................................... iii TABLE OF CONTENTS ............................................................................................................. iv LIST OF FIGURES ...................................................................................................................... vi ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ........................................................................................................... vii INTRODUCTION: THE AUDITORY TURN-ON ...................................................................... 1 CHAPTER 1: GERTRUDE STEIN AND THE POETICS OF AURALITY ............................. 30 1. 1.  Toward a Sensory Arousal ................................................................................................. 30 1. 2. The Geography of Text: Composition Decomposed ........................................................... 39 1. 3. Radio Aurality: Voice Meditating Immediacy in Landscape Theatre ................................. 67 1. 4. From Landscape to Luminescence in Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights .......................... 100 CHAPTER 2: THE AUDITORY SCRIPTURES OF SAMUEL BECKETT ........................... 120 2. 1. Composition, Voice, and the Multitude in Beckett ........................................................... 120 2. 2. Groping on the Auditory Field: The Discourses of Sense, Sound, and Self in Beckett and Contemporary Theory ................................................................................................ 132 2. 3. Narrative In/Formation: Traversing the Plane of Immanence of Beckett’s How It Is....... 155 2. 4. The Lonesome Multitude of Company .............................................................................. 172 CHAPTER 3: JOHN CAGE’S POETICS OF THE AUDITORY TEXT ................................. 189 3. 1. DJ Cage on Composition and Nothing .............................................................................. 189  v  3. 2. The Sound of Silence: Composition Recomposed ............................................................ 198 3. 3. Empty Voices Raging: Toward an Auditory Reading of Cage’s “Lecture on Nothing” ... 213 3.4. The Rhizomatics of a Hiccup: Writings Through as Evocative Texts ............................... 227 CHAPTER 4: FRANK ZAPPA, THE M/OTHERS OF US ALL ............................................. 252 4. 1. At Studio Z: Uncle Frank, Audaciously ............................................................................ 252 4. 2. Image and Sound: Toward the Zappa Composition .......................................................... 261 4. 3. The Three Functions of the Voice in Apostrophe (’) ......................................................... 278 4. 4. Logos, Pathos, and Ethos: The Rhetoric of the Megaphone in Zappa’s Joe’s Garage ..... 301 CONCLUSION: TOWARD NOISE ......................................................................................... 321 BIBLIOGRAPHY ..................................................................................................................... 335 DISCOGRAPHY/VIDEOGRAPHY ......................................................................................... 345         vi  LIST OF FIGURES  Figure 1. Trance-Fusion, Frank Zappa Album Cover Art   ................................................... 263Figure 2 Apostrophe (’), Frank Zappa Album Cover Art   ..................................................... 280      vii  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS    My deep gratitude to Rena Del Pieve Gobbi for loving attention, inspiration, and support in critical stages of this project.     Special thank you to Anne Ahmad for stimulating conversations about McLuhan and sound studies and for proofreading.     Very special thanks to Charles Ulrich for offering to read the Zappa chapter, his editorial suggestions, and attentive comments regarding the content of the chapter. 1  INTRODUCTION: THE AUDITORY TURN-ON A recent conference hosted by the Butler School of Music at Austin, Texas, Thinking Hearing — The Auditory Turn in the Humanities (2009) offers in its title the term ‘auditory turn,’ declaring in the conference proposal the importance of ‘the auditory’ as an emerging paradigm in the humanities and social sciences, calling on scholars to turn critical attention to sound and aurality as pertinent areas of investigation: “Are the humanities on the verge of an ‘auditory turn?’ Do we need an equivalent to visual studies — aural studies, as one might call it?” The ‘auditory turn’ may indeed be a gesture in the direction of aural studies. Applied to literature and writing, and so closer to the purview of this thesis, the term helps to make sense of the growing theoretical and critical interest in what Marshall McLuhan, early in the history of media studies, called the ‘acoustic space,’ the space of listening, of the ear and orality. McLuhan’s critical interest in the auditory/acoustic draws the literary scholar’s attention to the ear as a silenced organ of perception. In McLuhan’s mind, print-oriented cultures marginalize the ear, replacing it with the eye as the preferred mode of sensing and of making sense. The eye becomes the dominant regime of thought, understanding, and culture of the so-called Gutenberg civilization with its complex ocular epistemologies of seeing, sight, and vision. However, the explosion of the mass media in the 1950s and, increasingly, of the audio-visual-computer media of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s that foreshadowed the global-digital synergies of today, brings the aural/auditory world into the foreground. In this thesis, I examine auditory snapshots of that foreground.   2  Although it’s difficult to pinpoint the ‘auditory turn’ at a particular historical moment, it clearly traverses several points of the Twentieth-Century with its unprecedented surge of new recording and communication technologies, calling for new forms of literacy and social and cultural practices. Here the ‘auditory turn’ helps to group related cultural phenomena, understand them in the context of larger social practices, infer relationships between them, and draw their larger cultural implications. More specifically, the emphasis on the auditory/acoustic helps to interrogate the eye as an organ of unique insight and a model for understanding in the systems of knowledge referred to by McLuhan as the Gutenberg Galaxy (also the title of his cultural-ethnographic magnum opus); it then extends the eye telescopically as an instrument of understanding beyond sight and vision by connecting and relating it to other senses. At stake is the capacity to make sense of multi-media and multimediation as the epistemic-aesthetic paradigm of the century, to image beyond the gaze, as an acoustic perception, floating in the non-localizable, multi-perspectival ‘acoustic space’ proposed by McLuhan. The ‘auditory turn’ in this sense — in the sense and in the act of bringing the senses into the fold of a multi-mediational understanding — is not limited to sound alone but comprises a range of sense orientations, the whole affective-semantic scale. As a sense-oriented concept, the auditory/acoustic is esemplastic, to use a term coined by Samuel Coleridge in his discussion of the extensions of literature in relation to imagination; esemplastic here means that the auditory/acoustic is a multi-media hybrid, engaging visual, textile, tactile, and sonoric registers, connecting tactility and language, color and feeling, sound and taste.  My thesis takes up the ‘auditory turn’ along with auditory-related concepts in a critical foray into Twentieth-Century experimental writing, performance, and sound making to  3  demonstrate the flourishing relationship among sound, text, and image as an essential feature of Twentieth-Century text and writing. In its investigations, the thesis engages a group of texts that exemplify not just the style, but also the inherent and permanent aural/audial/auditory/acoustic dimension of writing. My goal is not to analyze the periodic changes or turns to discover what set of forces may cause them or to question what the paradigm’s exact characteristics may be, but to listen to the sounds already happening within the frame of Twentieth-Century literary modernity. Here the multi-mediational, multi-sensorial acoustic dimension of the auditory helps to theorize the interface of aurality, textuality, and visuality as closely interrelated media resonating through the literary ethos of the period stretching meaningfully, though without further historical consequence, from 1914 to 1991, effectively the period covered in the thesis.  Selected works of Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett, John Cage, and Frank Zappa provide ‘representative anecdotes’ that dramatize the coming together of sound, text, and image. They offer a critical perspective on the presence of sound cultures in Twentieth-Century literary theories and practices. These representative works embody an auditory kind of textuality, offering themselves as auditory texts in that they actively engage with the relationship between sound and text in practice, and at a theoretical level, by posing pertinent critical questions regarding the epistemic, technical, aesthetic, and political implications of this interface. The larger premise, and a starting point, is that the coming together of sound, text, and image constitutes one of the defining features of Twentieth-Century culture, which has direct implications for new technologies of reading and writing, and so affects all corresponding cultural practices. My thesis examines this particular sensory collision as it shapes the practice of writing and sounding as complementary and hybrid media, in other  4  words, as multi-media systems involving different degrees of coordination of visual, textual, and sonoric sources. The overall argument concerns the development and practice of auditory models of analysis of literary and related texts; it engages critical theory invested in sound to focus on the ongoing mediational symbiosis between literature and the recording and transmitting technologies of the period: the gramophone, radio, television, magnetic tape, and the compact disc. In that regard, the selected texts exemplify the break into the auditory; they are nodes in a complex relationship among sense perception, self, voice, and the social; they are problem-texts articulating aspects of the interface of sound and text. To coordinate my theoretical task, I draw on critical works within the field of sound studies (Steven Feld, Don Ihde, Douglas Kahn, Jonathan Sterne, Les Black, Michael Bull); work with sound-oriented concepts, such as ‘acoustic space’ (Marshall McLuhan et al), ‘noise’ (Jacques Attali), the refrain (Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari), the ‘auditory imagination’ (Don Ihde), ‘acoustemology’ (Steven Feld), the ‘soundscape’ and ‘schizophonia’ (Murray Schafer), and ‘participatory discrepancy’ (Charles Keil); I also attend to the auditory in the text by tracing a line of scholarship that addresses the elements and aspects of sound in literature (Mikhail Bakhtin, Steve McCaffery, Katherine Hayles, Marjorie Perloff, Garrett Stewart). Garrett Stewart’s phenomenological explorations in his Reading Voices: Literature and the Phonotext is one example of research on the auditory dimensions of text, and a tactic of listening for the ‘acoustic space’ in texts. Stewart’s ‘phonotext’  helps us to ‘visualize’ the encounter with a text haunted by a chorus of virtual voices, revealing the various disembodied and/or dislocated levels of the voice that accompany the reading process. Drawing on research related to the phenomenology of the voice (Don Ihde, Garrett Stewart), I explore its cultural production and transmission, inquiring into its ideology, mediations, and embodiments.   5  How does one locate sound in text? It must be there, animated by the voice of the reader, by no means a singularity as the concept may falsely imply. Moreover, it must be there in the first place inscribed in the act of writing, at times preceding this very act and structuring it processually as a series of sonic events: whispers, breathing, the rustling of paper, the staccato of a typewriter, or the clicking of a computer mouse. Writing considered as a technology, whether of the scripting quill or digital computer system, is submerged in sound; as well, insofar as the text, so animated with sonority, responds to its environment — both the larger cultural context and the most immediate surroundings, the study room, library, park, or café — the text contains a unique ‘soundscape’. Obviously, this ‘soundscape’ is materially absent from the text, but this particular absence doesn’t mean we can ignore it. It is so much more amplified for that very absence! This virtual ‘soundscape’ is the veritable ghost of the text that Stephen Greenblatt resurrects in his Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England. When setting out to unpack a poetics of culture contained in the works, whose only principal life remains in the printed folios and their theatrical simulacra, he proposes the term ‘social energy’ as the material component, a concrete manifestation of the poetics in the making, that constitutes the social environment of the poet. One of my aims is to listen to the ‘social energy’ accumulated in the ‘folios’ of Cage, Zappa, Beckett, and Stein; to experiment with these texts as auditory events we engage in for the purpose of understanding, releasing, and being with ‘social energy.’  ‘Social energy,’ as the auditory space of Twentieth-Century literature and culture, resonates through what McLuhan, in a televised conversation with Edwin Newman, calls “the scandal of cubism.” He explains the term in the following statement:   6  We live in an electric age which is non-visual and non-visualizable. The scandal of cubism or the scandal of much symbolist art was the scrapping of visual space — the throwing away of the visual in favor of the audile-tactile. Civilization is a technical term based upon the dominance of the eye over the other senses. There are no connections in matter as understood by the New Physics but there is a perpetual resonating interval between or among particles. It is in this interval of resonance that the action takes place. In the world of resonance man becomes completely involved. (“Speaking Freely with Edwin Newman”) The statement takes the listener beyond the visible, and the divisible, as the pun here makes sense, into the shimmering electric subatomic flow of radio and television particles emitting their discourse through auditory waves. The statement necessarily considered in the context of its televisual appearance forays into the audio-tactility of sound, touch, image, and movement as media and extensions that replace the visual regime. The audio-tactile articulates through resonances, vibrations, and pulses; it’s about intervals and oscillations, intuitions and affects, the permanent in-betweenness of sound, its repetition in the beginning again and again of Stein and Beckett. Thus “the scandal of cubism” helps McLuhan reference a specific moment in the history of plastic arts: the emergence of a haptic visuality in the form of a non-perspectival seeing, forging a synaesthetic simultaneity of different points of view, the “interval of resonance [where] the action takes place.” For McLuhan, this specific moment in history is when history and sound technology meet, in the explosion of mass media and their dramatic shift from print oriented literacy to the age of the computer-digital system via the cartoon, the comic book, the advertising poster, a radio or television program, or a pop or rock song.   7  For McLuhan, media clearly involve us on a physical level, literally at the level of radiation from the TV tube or the blast of air from the sound system at a rock show, in a controlled-home little atomic explosion mirroring all the graphic-visual horrors of the century, or in a public space transforming and mutating through the multiple uses of sound. The emergence of the simultaneity of points of view and sense perceptions brought about by the media has specific social implications; and so the analysis of that shift traces in effect a social development, the making of a people. Within the print orientation, this cubist turn transcends the boundary of text as a visual and perspectival medium, breaking away into the acoustic/auditory as a social space/project beyond the constraints of the logos — the eye and print culture — as a dominant form of knowledge. What happens outside the print, at the edges or margins of it? The notion of acoustic resonance, what McLuhan calls ‘acoustic space,’ along with the media and sound studies can make sense of it in the context of a specific cultural production or set of practices; that’s the key to tracing the “essence of what happens,” to borrow from Stein, in a so-called literary text during the 20th Century: to listen around it.  Could one understand a text as an ‘acoustic space’? What would such a reading mean? What kind of procedure would it involve? In McLuhan in Space: A Cultural Geography, Richard Cavell makes the point that McLuhan’s notion of ‘acoustic space’ must be understood as a “hybrid of oral and literate modalities” (xiv), a combination of writing and speaking, writing in the breath of speech, writing/recording what one hears, hearing what one writes. McLuhan, as literary scholar, takes the words on a page and applies them at once to cognitive psychology and media studies, making up the latter from a combination of communication studies, cybernetics, rhetoric, ethnography, sociology, and literary analysis.  8  Cavell further explains that ‘acoustic space’ is not simply a space filled with sound, but rather a mosaic of dynamic and interactive sensory experience involving auditory and visual cognitive processes, an “allatonceness” (55) as Cavell calls it. This ‘acoustic space’ is characterized by a juxtaposition or pile-up of images, speech, sounds, noises, silences, text, and empty spaces between words; it is a space that involves working with visual and linguistic channels of cognition.  The term ‘mosaic’ is an important concept for McLuhan in this connection, signifying a type or model of composition that emerges in response to the multiple sensory stimulation of the media, in contrast to the ocular overstimulation of the typographic regime. With its close analogies to the Deleuzoguattarian ‘plane of immanence,’ the notion of the ‘mosaic’ postulates a model of composition as both an aesthetic practice and a kind of understanding, in both cases directing attention at an immanent copresence of heterogeneous elements, a simultaneous presence of a whole bunch of things. In that sense, the ‘acoustic space’ is both graphic and audible, graphic-audible. One could think of space as definable by what encloses it, by the perception of its boundaries, frontiers and landmarks; without walls or borders space  would be inherently un-locatable, as in the famous zinger from Stein’s Everybody’s Autobiography “there is no there there” (289). ‘Acoustic space,’ however, encloses what is audible within it: the immediate audibility of the present, sounds and words in their presence.  The ‘mosaic’ is McLuhan’s response to the question of form and structure implied in the idea of composition. For McLuhan the terms ‘visual’ and ‘acoustic’ refer to a notion of structure or form. This emphasis on the form is, in visual terms, attention to the ground as the organizing principle that gives sense to the figure-content of the representation. The medium is the ground, to paraphrase the famous ‘medium is the message’ line. Put another way, in a  9  visual message, the ground is the content proper, what gives representation its unique individual flavor and being. But where exactly is the ground located and how is it located in relation to the figure within the allatonceness of the ‘acoustic space’? Where does the image begin and end? The relationship between the figure and the ground is indeed resonant and discontinuous in a manner similar to the acoustic structure as one of discontinuities, a mosaic of communication stimuli that can be experienced as a simultaneity of sensory data that reaches us from all directions. Within the ‘acoustic space,’ the figure and the ground, the letters and the sounds of them, can’t be distinguished, but rather interpenetrate to resonate along a multidimensional plane of relations that creates its own dimensions.  To read texts for their ‘acoustic space’, to read auditory texts, involves a form of bricolage, an interpretive sounding out/reading that pieces together diverse materials, and openly experiments with numerous possibilities of reading and sounding out, a paratactic reading that connects various parts of the text via sound clues, visual clues, semantic, logical, associative clues and other sense perceptions, echo-locating through it, making and unmaking sense of what the ear can hear, the way the ear hears and understands. To read texts for their ‘acoustic space’ is to put trust in listening as a form of interpreting and understanding and to allow voice and vocalizations to guide one through the reading process, in order to hear, paraphrasing McLuhan, the resonating interval between or amongst the particles of text, play, or lyric.    The ‘auditory turn’ indexes Don Ihde’s influential 1976 critical study Listening and Voice. In his quest to study sound, Ihde engages a range of topics, from language, to music, to metaphysics. One of the central relationships in this context is the relationship between the body and technology, both in relation to theories of subjectivity, at the level of identity  10  politics, and in relation to social processes, at the level of body politic. Listening and Voice is an example of an early study focused on auditory cultures; following the McLuhan acoustic line of investigations privileging the non-linear cultures of music, dance, performance, and orality, Ihde traces the interlacing of the visual and aural perceptions as exemplary of social processes involving the auditory/acoustic, from speech and writing to opera and pop music, putting forth a phenomenology of listening and voice. Recently, Jean-Luc Nancy’s Listening extends this phenomenological line of investigation into sound and listening. His philosophical quest searches for “a visual sound” (3) and listening as a mode of intuiting in and thinking of truth (4), toward the understanding of the world conceptually, but in auditory terms, not as a series of visual metaphors and visualizations, but as sonorities and resonances across the practice and theory of sound and sound making. Music as a metaphor of reality, Nancy proclaims, “stems from a different logic [than ocularity/visuality], which would have to be called evocation... evocation [which] summons presence to itself” (20). This self-presence, this self-present actuality of presence, is the auditory copresence of all senses operating at once.    In taking up phenomenology anew, Nancy proposes not to return to the phenomenological subject as an intentional line of sight and inner vision but, rather, to move forward to a resonant subjectivity in the sense of an intensive spacing of a rebound that does not end in a self without immediately relaunching, as an echo, a call to the same self (21), sense [being] first of all the rebound of sound, a rebound that is coextensive with the whole folding/unfolding of presence and of the present that makes or opens the perceptible as such, and that opens in it the sonorous exponent: the vibrant  11  spacing-out of a sense in whatever sense one understands or hears it... sense consists first of all, not in a signifying intention but rather in a listening. (30) His Listening shifts the orientation of philosophical analysis toward musical meanings and an auditory comprehension of the world (32), grasping them as  a fundamental rhythmic [organization] of affect... the beat of a blending together and a pulling apart, of an accepting/rejecting or a swallowing/spitting: in fact, from movement (impulse?) from which there comes an outside and an inside and, thus, something or someone like a subject... the formation of a subject [being] first of all the rhythmic reployment/deployment of an enveloping between ‘inside’ and ‘outside,’ or else folding the ‘outside’ into the ‘inside,’ invaginating, forming a hollow, an echo chamber or column, a resonance chamber. (38)   The phenomenological line of inquiry articulates two areas of the study of sound and auditory cultures, as part of aesthetics, interested in art and its social and cultural forms, and as part of epistemology, interested in the questions of perception and understanding in the context of media technologies and their relationship to the body. The question of technology built into sound cultures in turn has its political implications; the media effects of sound in this context translate into the social distribution of senses, the body politic, subcultures, and global justice and resistance movements. The auditory, reconfigured in this way, interrogates new complex understandings and theories of the body in relation to the socius, engaging affect as the capacity of the body to experience and process, make sense, of sensations. Sense and sense, meaning and sensation, are inextricably tied up. It is interesting to note how difficult it is to separate sense (meaning) and sense (sensation) even despite the longstanding mind-body Cartesian bias still deeply embedded in collective ways of thinking, splitting the mind-consciousness-reason-meaning from the body-sensations-sense perceptions-experience.  12  In the field of literary studies, the auditory may seem to be most applicable in the areas of poetry and performance theory, where the relationship between the voice and the text remains most concrete and direct. However, the auditory is not limited to a specific genre or group of closely related genres revolving around performance poetry. The voice is recorded as text, captured in text, even if only in a hypothetical or virtual text, whenever one thinks of a possible text. The text, likewise, does not remain sealed in its visual form but is released into sound at all times, at multiple times in multiple acts of reading. Text, voice, and orality are inextricably connected in Walter Ong’s notion of ‘secondary orality.’ At this level, the relationship between text and voice applies to literature in general, be that reading, writing, composing, or performing. More interestingly, text is trapped in voice. Stewart’s notion of ‘phonotext’ conjures an image of a composite voice inside the head, like in sampling, which spins text into sound. In his Reading Voices: Literature and the Phonotext, Stewart explains the term by observing that “[r]eaders silently ventriloquize a text according to the linguistic conventions of their time” (38). And so, this phonotextual, auditory aspect of text is not limited to sound/performance poetry, rap or hip-hop, but it resides in any narrative where, in reading of a character speaking with a lisp or in a whispering voice or stuttering, one consciously wants to hear imagination-enhancing cues pertaining to how the character speaks — the timbre and pitch of their voice, the accented speed of speech, the loudness or softness in how they talk — all of these being examples of how a reader hears text in an auditory way. Reading is not a silent affair, even when it may lapse into a momentary silence that resembles that of John Cage’s 4’33”: filled with ambient noise, unintentional and undirected.  I should acknowledge at this point the recent systematic critique of Ong’a ‘secondary orality’ conducted by Jonathan Sterne in his “The Theology of Sound: A Critique of Orality.”  13  In the article, Sterne tackles specifically the theological underpinnings of Ong’s study of orality, showing them on closer look related less to the electric implosion of the new media technology as McLuhan would wish than to the old master narratives of “the Christian spiritual tradition,” which Sterne claims deeply involve Ong in his research.  Sterne’s methodical dismantling takes the shape of archaelogical investigations of lines and connecting tissue linking together a group of Canadian scholars in the 1950s and 60s invested in the study of orality. This line of orality, postulating oral consciousness as a sonic consciousness embedded in a long-standing mythical tradition of the voice of god and its eartly modalitities, Sterne dismisses as not anthropological enough, advancing his anthropology project in the area of sound studies closer in orientation to Harold Innis’s spirit of social sciences. Though not interested in the Christian tradition, which in the context of my studies plays no part, I find Ong’s terminology, even his reliance on the polarity between the ear and eye, useful. The Christian tradition doesn’t seem out of place in the wrestling with the metaphysics of the understanding as interrogated in the ‘auditory turn’ toward sound and listening. This tradition is mockingly and seriously present in the prose of Beckett and musical cartoons of Zappa, who delights in retelling the stories of creation of ‘man’ and the universe. Ong’s theory of “a new electronic oral-aural consciousness consisting of a new kind of immediate presence,” as Sterne himself puts it, remains for me a relevant tool in the toolbox to examine the sounds and auditory tactics of the avant-garde modernity.  The premise and framework of my thesis concern text as auditory, examining the ways — technologies, practices, cultures and subcultures — in which the word becomes audible and haptic, a tactile, multi-sensorial phenomenon constitutive of sense as both perception and understanding. The thesis engages a sensory evolution occurring alongside the conceptual  14  reorientation of aesthetics of the multi-media systems. The word becomes audible, esemplastic and synaesthetic, glowing with aroma, smelling with color, speaking through its shape directly into the eye, rippling through the all-at-onceness. It returns audible, the way Ong’s ‘secondary orality’ returns to retribalize McLuhan’s ‘global village.’ Deterritorialized from the page as its primary medium of sensory orientation, deterritorialized — detached, departed — from the eye, it reterritorializes it in turn. The auditory here puts forth a certain social theory of sound, drawing attention to a sonic ecology. The range of sonic intensities — from Cage’s 4’33”, comprising three movements of silence punctuated by the opening and closing of the piano, to the 24 tracks of diverse and randomly spliced sounds forming the sonic landscape of Roaratorio — provide a virtual radar that helps register a series of textual-visual-sonoric events that exemplify the multi-sensory reorientation of the body and text.  With an ear for auditory cultures and sound studies, I pursue the now-moment of modernity stretching and condensing time to a convenient conceptual unit loosely referred to as the Twentieth Century. Yet the goal of my investigations is to avoid the linearity of time and history, to avoid being arrested by subtle questions of historical precedence and development, the familiar stories of the maturation of a period viewed retrospectively in the rear-view mirror of the expert-scholar’s critical gaze into its ideal form and set of characteristics. Rather, I want to compose a mosaic or collage of the interrelated and discontinuous lines of the period as itself having no particular beginning or end but beginning “again and again” as in Stein and Beckett, as a duration possessive of a certain extension in the space it occupies where all things are interrelated, as in a Deleuzeuguattarian rhizome. Though there is a certain timely progression from Stein, born 1874, to Zappa, born 1940, with Beckett and Cage, born in 1906 and 1912 respectively, sandwiched in between, all four artists  15  flourishing during the Twentieth-Century and departed before its end, the purpose of my investigations is not to trace a historical maturation or the development of a trend or movement, but to compose the now-moment of modernity as a thematic copresence and coexistence referred to as the auditory avant-garde of the century.  In line with this ahistorical methodology, the literary and sound works discussed here programmatically evade history both thematically and formally in their organization and content. It is no accident that the thematic logic of the thesis takes the reader from Stein’s Tender Buttons and “Composition as Explanation” through Beckett’s How It Is, to Cage’s “Lecture on Nothing” and Zappa’s Lumpy Gravy as they all manifest the same type of mosaic-like arrangement and direction, the same auditory consciousness, the same moment of entrance into sound, the same coming into sound-words of the print and text, the same present-continuous of modernity exploding into the mediatized sound-word. In the sense of copresence, Stein’s 1918 radio-like text, An Exercise in Analysis, has its avatar in Zappa’s 1968 album Lumpy Gravy. There is no necessity to discuss historical consciousness in relation with these events; rather, it’s a matter of resonances and the ability to hear similarities, differences, pulsations, and rhythmicizations within a system of interconnecting lines and points, harmonies and disharmonies, chords that sound together and apart; it’s a question of the art of reading music and collages, of piecing together disparate and fragmented parts into melodic streaks of joyful understanding. The abrupt sound of the gramophone needle dropped and scratching across the record on the side two of Zappa’s 1968 We’re Only In It For The Money LP would not have been possible without Stockhausen’s 1960s experimental recordings using magnetic tape, and it enters the scene of rock carefully selected as a historical-aesthetic referent and marker of the emerging aesthetics of sound in rock cultures;  16  but then it is no different from the sounds of Varèse and the dada experiments of the early century. It’s the very sound of the gramophone cartridge rubbed with different objects on Cage’s 1952 Imaginary Landscape No. 5, and the staccato of parts and acts of Stein’s 1918 An Exercise in Analysis, which dramatize the idea of the auditory montage. In a mosaic, all these moments occur simultaneously in relation to one another; the mosaic is a way of constructing the Deleuzoguattarian ‘plane of immanence’ or consistency, a way of making sense of immanence. The selected representatives of the interface of sound and text exemplify the auditoriness of the age, the auditory paradigm, as virtual, imagined, and as the real voices of it. These voices are copresent in a sense that there is no relevant history separating them in time or space; for all that matters, everything is happening at once, in a wild jam involving Stein, Beckett, Cage, and Zappa speaking at the same time, but not necessarily to one another. My theoretical interest in McLuhan and Nancy is also an inspiration to avoid historicism, to be able to put aside modernity textbooks and theories. Stein, technically the only modernist in the group, is not examined here in relation to the literary modernism of London, Paris or New York; nor are Beckett, Cage, and Zappa linked with postmodernity, as what emerges out of modernism or in relation to it. None of the historical distinctions and subtleties regarding the meaning of ‘post’ and the divisions and segmentations of time enter the frame here, simply because the thesis has a different set of goals and methods, to postulate a continuity, a simultaneity of the auditory paradigm of the century; to examine the auditory essence of the age manifested as a sound orientation of writing and sound art. In this spirit, no particular progression is argued in relation to Zappa as a closing frame, the curtain of this theoretical opera; rather, Zappa marks the return of the modernism of Varèse and Stravinsky, who are  17  taken for a ride on the rock stage, with all due accolades and fervency, and so marking the persistence of now as a lasting melodic presence.  What explodes in between Stein and Zappa as the opening and closing frames of my investigations, between the 1914 release of Stein’s Tender Buttons and the 1993 posthumous release of Zappa’s Civilization Phaze III, is of course the explosion of new media technology, the gramophone, the radio, television, amplifiers, synthesizers, and digital recording technology, sweeping the world and marking the mediatization of the word, its shift away from print to sound and related regimes of inscription in the auditory. Accepting the basic history of the period from 1914 and 1993 as marking the historical development of the recording technologies from the gramophone to the digital recording of the late 20th Century, no additional insights are offered to aid a media historiographer. Inspired by Stein’s playful rejection of storytelling as a tactics of composing a play, by tapping instead into the essences of what happened, the thesis turns to essences in the form of related auditory concepts that find their literary and sound makers as representative practitioners in the art of the auditory. The thesis does not deny the importance of historical investigations; nor does it deny the importance of cognitive research on aspects of visual and auditory processing, but neither of these directions is taken up here. A different composition is intended from the beginning: to capture performatively the explosion of sound in Twentieth-Century experimental writing, the all-at-onceness of McLuhan, as a meeting of resonant copresences on the same plane of conceptual consistency.  The term ‘megaphone’ symbolizes the presence and impact of media on the technologies of reading and writing during the period, and is taken as a figuration, a metaphor that helps to group a cluster of related concepts, positions, and theories representing current  18  discourse on sound; the ‘megaphone’ is here to animate a conversation regarding the various dependencies and connections taking place, which particularly affect our understanding of the sound-text relationship in a literary text. And so the ‘megaphone’ serves as a metaphor of the voice, the voice broadcast into the crowd, and so the voice on the one hand in its mediated form, and on the other, in its political, affective, social, aesthetic, and performative aspects, the voice imaging the social as a certain sonic ecology, an environment into which it is uttered and within which it has its place. The ‘megaphone’ symbolizes a new dimension of intimacy, an extension of the mouth and the word into crowds and city spaces, stretching across space. The word of the media system as a particular modality, the ‘secondary orality’ of Ong, collides with print, merges with it, and consequently returns as a space-time oriented medium, a sonic ecology, no longer restricted in time thanks to the recording technologies capable of archiving, multiplying, and transporting the sound-word and its voice indefinitely. The auditory, in that sense, is a move toward a new conceptualization of time and space, along the lines of a space-time continuum of relativity and particle physics as scientific paradigms of modernity.  I emphasize that the auditory is not homogenous, not uniformly just sound oriented. A sonic ecology is not just what can be heard, a total ‘soundscape’, but also the ways — tactics, positions, politics, and technologies — of hearing, listening, understanding, archiving, and inscribing sounds in both collective and individual memory. The voice and the sonic ecology are stitched together in the sense that there is no voice outside a social/auditory environment where sounds actually coexist, in the very same way as that there is no silence as a blank sonic space empty of sounds; thus abstracted concept of silence doesn’t exist; neither does it correspond to the experience of hearing, nor to the understanding of silence itself. Cage’s  19  4’33” shows a continuity of sounds existing at all times, even in the echo chamber where the listener hears their own pulse and heartbeat in a polyrhythmic drum-a-thon. The score to 4’33” also reveals that silence, as concept even to be imagined, has to be given in some ways, as a command, a stage direction, a written order. A blank page with Tacit written on it is not silence but a word, already populated with its own multilingual murmur.  Further, the ‘megaphone’ is a symbol of the social othering of the voice, its departure from a singular localizable body and entrance into the virtual-global collective, the resonant space of the century, at which level the materiality of the voice ceases to depend on vocal chords and is subsumed under the machinic operations of a recording-broadcasting plant. As a figuration — in the sense of Donna Haraway’s model of alternative representation — that brings together sound and voice, pointing to their public/social embodiment, the ‘megaphone’ helps to theorize cultural, social, and technological facts concerning the voice as a phenomenon. There is a certain comical megaphonicity in Stein’s writings, which we could imagine being read through a ‘megaphone’ for no particular reason other than the sound effect this kind of reading would produce, liberating the words from syntactical dependencies into the pure space of resonance where they would become sound-words, the suprasegmental assemblages of value added to mere lexical signs as discussed in Scott Pounds’s article on sound in Stein’s writing in chapter one. For the very same reason, Beckett’s How It Is could be read thus, to emphasize the timbre, tone, and pace of voice in its multiplications across the auditory sheets of writing.  The voice resonates through the literary ethos at multiple frequencies, as a material sonoric presence, a narrative point of view, a formal device for grouping certain discourses, a subject position, a philosophical persona (Deleuze and Guattari), and a concept of self. The  20  voice sits at the crossroads of multiple disciplines and variously related fields, from anthropology and sociology, through political studies, history, and geography, through urban studies, literature, and philosophy, to acoustic communication studies and theories of music. The figure of the ‘megaphone’ helps symbolically to bring together different disciplines to aid my auditory investigations.  To exemplify my line of enquiry, placing it specifically within a field of literary studies, I take the ‘megaphone’ further as a frame that frames each particular author/persona taken up in the analysis. And so Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett, John Cage, and Frank Zappa, posited as ‘megaphonic figurations,’ metaphorize the ways of making voice audible. This mediated/outered voice of writing, the listening and talking at the same time as the playful definition of genius in Stein, is the megaphonic voice of the auditory text. Each instance of the megaphonic outering of text as voice offers a range of problems that illustrate a more specific sonic aspect of the relationship between literature and sound. To capture these specifics, the selected authors each have their own media figuration inspired by McLuhan’s Understanding Media, in the form of the radio-Stein, the televisual-Beckett, the gramophone-Cage, and the cartoon-Zappa, the first three literally and the last metaphorically containing the megaphone-speaker. The choice of these media figurations as specific variants of the ‘megaphone’ is a playful application of the influential media effects studies of McLuhan more than a sustained argument showing actual connections of each author with his/her figure/medium.  Radio applies to Stein more along symbolic lines, though it’s mesmerizing to hear Stein’s actual radio voice and imagine it as part of the chorus of voices performing her plays. Stein’s writing inscribes the voices that project a certain “vision” of radio as a social  21  intersubjective space; it anticipates the kind of radio that actually happens by the time she travels to the United States and appears on the radio. Radio spirits the word on a page, lifting it off the page. The voice, released and displaced from its only locus of coherence of the socio-physical presence of the speaking body, takes the spectral dimension of a media system, and is distributed in waves across a time-space geography as part of the sonic ecology of social life. ‘The televisual’ applies to Beckett literally and directly, as his work in television, video, and radio in conjunction with his work in theatre, testifies to the engagement of their effects in relation to writing and text and their auditory dimensions. Beckett exemplifies a type of writing and text that literally and materially exit the page in the act of performance; this dimension of Beckett’s writing belongs equally to works intended for staging and strictly literary texts like How It Is and Company discussed in this thesis. The gramophone applies provocatively or even comically to Cage, who opposed the gramophone so vehemently urging people to destroy gramophone records, as in his opinion they hailed the mechanization and commoditization of music and sound cultures, hindering and muting listening as an important social and aesthetic practice. Interestingly, Cage is one of the first users of the gramophone and radio in musical compositions. His first uses of the amplified phonograph cartridge rubbed with various objects date back to the 1940s and early 1950s, in Credo In Us and Imaginary Landscape. Finally, the cartoon applies metaphorically and interpretively to Zappa, as a figuration that captures his style and humor of musical expression, his public performances, his statements and views, his writings as featured in the liner notes of Freak Out!, Uncle Meat, The Grand Wazoo and You Are What You Is albums, his autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book and his satirical social commentary Them or Us (the Book). Zappa’s masterpiece “Greggary Peccary,” from the Studio Tan album, as well as albums like  22  Overnight Sensation and Apostrophe (’), in addition to his repeated visualizations of music-related scenes in his video work (200 Motels and Baby Snakes), show the use of cartoon as a mode of expressing/representing.  My aim, then, is to consider the symbiosis, symbioses, among sound, text, and image treated as an expanded episteme, the leading dynamic of writing/print culture, where the concept of writing and text are broadened to include music and images both still and moving, since in the digital age everything is coded. The thesis engages situated technologies of sound, though it places less emphasis on technology itself and more on the question of the mediation of text, of text as a prosthetic extension of the body, postulating it to be a socially-oriented prosthesis, a mass or public with its ethics, politics, aesthetics, and epistemology, its nomadic/transversal subjectivities (Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Rosi Braidotti), its technologies and forms of biopower, and its ecology (Michel Foucault, Donna Haraway). Ultimately, my thesis project addresses the ‘auditory turn’ and the fate of the auditory through its diverse resonating cultures, with fate understood not as speculations about the future of sound but as a collective intentionality — a set of social practices — of hearing, listening, sounding out, a system of thought, operating as a conceptual cluster that enables fluid readings of/within culture, readings that can move between different forms of sound-oriented/auditory textual production.  On a metalevel of larger conceptual planes, the central theme of my investigations of the auditory concerns the notion and practice of composition, and its extension into voice and multitude as a collective/non-individual voice of the media system. What does the Twentieth-Century bring into composition? What are the characteristics of a Twentieth-Century composition? How is composition theorized? What kinds of structural challenges does the  23  Twentieth-Century composition respond to? Is there something that structurally defines an avant-garde or otherwise experimental work? To what extent and in what sense does Twentieth-Century composition draw its inspiration and model from music, from jazz and the music of cinema, from improvised music, as well as from the recording/broadcasting technologies of radio, the gramophone, and magnetic tape? To what extent does the painterly musicking of Picasso and Braque in the early collages of experimental cubism influence writing, the technologies of the word, and the forms of literacy? Does this painterly musicking collapse the regime of the eye, perspective, and the point of view the way McLuhan imagines in his ‘scandal of cubism’ statement? How do composition and writing take readers into the resonating interval where the action takes place, as McLuhan puts it? Also, how is composition related to language, in both the syntax/grammar and logic/meaning of it? How is composition related to the structure of the mind, thought, and of understanding? How do these in turn, in the act of composition, relate to the question of subjectivity and the self, in the sense of the individual or self-individuating and collective discourses that speaks the self?  In taking up these questions, I want to stress that, increasingly, as a characteristic feature of Twentieth-Century writing and modes of literacy, the term ‘composition’ refers to a musical resonance or harmony of parts; it’s a chordal thing in essence, whether it refers to the musical pastiche of Zappa, the textual plays of Stein, the textual/vocal performances of Cage, or the melodic abstract expressivist paintings of Pollock and jazz collages of Matisse. Simply put, the ear and musical understanding increasingly play more important roles in a literary composition, filled with the din of the modern city and its media systems.  In relation to composition as itself a structure composed of parts, I propose that the question of composition be related with the question of voice. It’s the voice, the vocalizations  24  of a multiple and/or virtual body that are ultimately compositional; compositions are vocalizations in a literary sense, as performatives sustaining the play by sounding it out and so sustaining the inherent soundness of the text, words, and statements.  Aside from the voice — at the edges of it — even a strictly musical composition poses problems of expression and can be ‘read’ as verbalization. In this sense, sounds are textual, and have a certain compositional potential. The imaging of sound into text signals a peculiar doubling, opening up a resonating gap between the text and this other sensation of it, a material kind of voice ‘inscribed’ between the lines, which has to be listened to. This somewhat synaesthetic splitting, this ‘phonotext,’ captures a certain audial — and ghostly — character of text manifested in the virtual voice that invariably sounds out the lexical component in writing, surrounding text with its auditory other.   And so composition is imbricated with voice; it involves voice and its parts. Here I ask: How is voice constituted? What are its components? To what extent is voice a textual thing, a sound thing or a hybrid? Whose voice is it? To what extent is it a personal voice assigned to a particular author, character, or persona? Is voice primarily the marker of subjectivity and how are the discourses of subjectivities in turn grounded in the examination of voice? To what extent are Twentieth-Century philosophical investigations concerning the question of subjectivity and self inspired by media technologies that enable the archiving, mirroring, recording, and instant playback of the self? And to what extent can we take the mediated construction of the auditory sense of subjectivity as a sound imprint to complement the typographic fingerprint?  With regard to the voice, the ‘auditory turn’ as a critical direction points to the voice’s complex mediations and to the disembodied voice in its radio, magnetic tape, or digital  25  manifestations. For no matter how we think of the voice, we think of its distribution, its resonant existence that echoes through time, suspended in a time of its own, a time of oscillations and presences, of resonating intervals. Insofar as the resonating voice is the voice of resonating bodies in the form of the social outside, as a population or multitude, the language contagion of the innumerable multitude of Stein’s plays, Beckett’s soliloquies, Cage’s and Zappa’s texts and musical compositions, the question of voice is the question of the multitude as the resonant social space of the voice. Here McLuhan’s ‘acoustic space’ points to the complex politics of the socius, to the ethnographics of socializations, pop cultures, and critical masses.  In that regard, we may ask: What is the popular voice? How is it constituted? How does it manifest? Who speaks and hears such a voice, and on behalf of whom? And further, borrowing from Michel Foucault, does it matter who speaks? Here I argue that the popular voice resides in the multitude with noise as its modality. To trace its manifestations and ponder its vocalizations, I propose that, brought to the level of text, a literary text as the subject of literary investigations of the multitude — as elaborated in social and political philosophy, grasped empirically in history and the social sciences as peoples, social movements, migrations, exiles, and critical masses — must correspond to a certain spectral multitude that also mobilizes the literary text, however loosely we define the boundary of text separating it from life. This critical multiplicity is not a question of attention paid to the masses populating stories or the mass as a possible character formation — as, for example, in the celebrated novels of Don DeLillo — but of the inherent teeming plurality of a literary text, a Bakhtinian multivocality, built into the text which can reinvigorate the study of literature by shifting attention away from the formal elements like characters, narrative positions, style,  26  and the author function, toward an aural dimension of text considered along with its ghostly presences of voice and its attendant sounds and noises. As one in a triad of conceptual meta dimensions of this thesis, a plane or plateau that corresponds with composition and voice, multitude must not be tied to a particular work or theory. The way I use the term is not the multitude of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s influential Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of the Empire, though I certainly point in their direction, recognizing likewise the  legacy of Deleuze and Guattari’s multiplicity and schizoanalysis in influencing their social-political line of thinking. Multitude must not have a singular referent but to serve as a larger term used to name what at bottom remains unnamable in the spirit of Beckett: the population, the mass, the multitude, the plural along with its social noise and energy, its sounds and voices.  My investigations begin with the late works of Gertrude Stein, focusing attention on her landscape plays, operas and experimental writing. In the following chapters, I examine two short prose texts of Samuel Beckett, and turn to John Cage’s lectures, essays, and musical events. These ‘texts’ serve to exemplify themes such as the expressivity of sound patterns; the compositionality of sound; the scripted character of a recording; and texts aspiring to the condition of music and/or becoming music. The works of Stein, Beckett, and Cage serve as relevant probes into the auditory dimensions of literature offering a critical grounding to venture beyond the literary text per se. Deep down, the aim of my project is to open a line of inquiry that allows a figure like Frank Zappa to enter the field of literary analysis and critical theory. In contrast to the various bards and balladiers — Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, who exemplify the category and who naturally belong in the studies of literature on account of their poetry — Zappa belongs to language and literary studies as dramatizing language and  27  text through his use of the raw materials, as an expressive lump containing the various matters, particles and waves, sonic and lexical elements, diverse musical styles and idioms, composed together. What interests me is Zappa as the amplifier of the acoustic dimension of the voice that resonates deeply through the literary ethos of the 20th Century, from Stein to Cage. In this sense, I hear Zappa’s works as an experimental machine, a model that enables the probing of the aesthetic, political, ethical and ideological dimensions of sound and its relation to language, text, and image. Turning to Zappa offers an opportunity to think of verbalization outside strictly literary genres, as an arena where the spectacle takes the form of verbal action and where disparate milieus (raw sonorities and non-verbal expression) organize themselves into expressive wholes that narrate and communicate. This social-narrative dimension of sound and music is what some critics (Marshall McLuhan, Dick Hebdige) call a return to the tribal that characterizes contemporary Western popular culture, and it is what others (Simon Frith) believe to open up spaces for radical thinking. Zappa’s rock opera, Joe’s Garage as well as a series of shorter works (Lumpy Gravy, We’re Only In It For the Money, Apostrophe (’)) are excellent examples of avant-garde rock compositions that deal with the voice, expression, and the limits of speech.  In my thesis, Zappa serves as a key case study placed contextually in the experiments and theory originating with Stein and Beckett, and zigzagging into Cage. Attention to Zappa helps to clarify my focus on the uses of the voice and as a field of resonating bodies in Stein’s landscape theatre, of the voice as detached from the body, operating on its own in Beckett, and of the entire field of composition and expression as open to a range of different auditory materials, non-deterministic and non-homogeneous, in Cage. Tracing this legacy of the break into the auditory, I analyze the effects of the ‘auditory turn’, this complex relationship of  28  sound, text, and image, on Twentieth-Century literature and culture, claiming that these effects articulate as composition, voice, and population (the structuring of the resonating social field where sounds give rise to social groupings). The three articulations are meant to help systematize better the abstract relationship among sound, text, and image, operating here as three larger areas that exemplify the synergy of these media. In the culture of modernity, of the modern era stretching from the late renaissance to now, coming to a definitive peak during the 20th Century, print and aurality/orality amount to more than just media: they are the two leading epistemic orientations, the two leading epistemes, of the ear and the eye with their attending technologies of shaping the social ways of understanding the world. (My intention is not to stress the competition between the ear and the eye but rather their symbiosis, indeed a longstanding symbiosis that, nonetheless, is periodically lost track of within cultures privileging just one orientation. Here, more than anything else, I simply acknowledge McLuhan’s argument that the so-called Gutenberg Galaxy orientation of print amplifies the eye as a dominating organ of perception to the detriment of other senses.)  Composition, voice, and multitude/population: the four chapters of the thesis each in turn examine these modalities or articulations as they surface in the works of Stein, Beckett, Cage, and Zappa. The three articulations of the auditory, of what it means to hear the ‘acoustic space’, serve as structural devices more so than as argument. Each chapter to a degree engages in a similar set of investigations concerning the practice and theory of composition, the uses of the voice, and the vocalizations of the population/multitude. While on some level I do intend to demonstrate that sound, text, and image operate in conjunction, ‘producing’ in turn composition, voice, and multiplicity (understood as peopling), the main purpose of the project is to adopt hermeneutic models with which to probe/study/experiment  29  with different types of cultural production involving sound and text, offering in turn a method of analysis that enables the examination of the image-like, composable, voicing and ‘peopling’ dimension of the word. A series of authors, texts, auditory representations/positions serve as representative auditory works of literature of the 20th Century, marking and hailing the return of the oral, animated word, animated in the sense of anima, as a sensory arousal. The overall argument concerns the reading of a series of literary themes in aural terms, as auditory phenomena, hybrid events involving multi-mediations and multi-voicings. And so, one of the aims is to extend the notion of discourse, for example as used by Foucault, from inherently privileging print culture and its dependence on text, textual-orientation, to consider the Twentieth-Century analogous system of regularities within auditory discourses where text and sound imbricate. This shift of text into the auditory triggers a set of interpretive approaches grouped under the designation of media studies, adopted here as a theoretical toolbox to navigate the multimedia environment of electric/computer oriented literacies.      30  CHAPTER 1: GERTRUDE STEIN AND THE POETICS OF AURALITY  1. 1.  Toward a Sensory Arousal In this chapter, I claim that the essence of Gertrude Stein’s project, insofar as the notion of ‘essence’ makes sense in this context, lies in a sensory arousal. This arousal manifests in the use and practice of language and its attendant knowledge formations as a proprioceptive apparatus, a kind of situated, embodied cognition. Stein paves the way toward affective art where affects are understood not as emotions in opposition to reason and thought but as a multiplicitous synaesthesia of kinetic, interactive aesthetics, a coming together of the senses in the auditory complex of writing, language, sound, and voice. After the monumental The Making of Americans Stein’s writing transforms the novel into a poem, play, and opera as genres closer to modern day media systems, affected by the cultures of the telegraph, telephone, gramophone, and radio. This shift in style of writing and in approach to language intensifies and further disembodies language into resonant sounds, resulting in Stein’s experimental poetics which stretch some twenty-odd  years, from 1914 to 1938, from Tender Buttons to the opera play Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights. The works representative of this period and the set of auditory considerations taken up in them are examined in this chapter.  Tracing the auditory-sound dimension of writing in Stein offers listeners a journey into the auditory oracle of modernism, the connecting tissue that situates Stein in the specific historical moment of a certain populist ideal of the emerging media, notably radio and cinema, as a projection and/or construction of the public space. In contrast to the newspaper as a prototype and analogue of the novel, the modern day broadcasting media systems animate  31  words, rendering them audiovisual and oral. In Understanding Media, McLuhan claims that, in contrast to print,  [r]adio affects most people intimately, person-to-person, offering a world of unspoken communication between writer-speaker and the listener. That is the immediate aspect of radio. A private experience. The subliminal depths of radio are charged with the resonating echoes of tribal times and antique drums. (331) The immediacy of radio in constructing a sense of intimacy at the public level is particularly worth notice here. For McLuhan, radio, by emphasizing intimacy, blurs the line dividing the public and the private self. Radio hails the return to tribal times of collective drumming and chants, the ‘secondary orality’ of McLuhan’s student and scholar friend, Walter Ong. Radio is spectrally present in Stein’s works; even though she didn’t work with radio or write radio plays, the style of her discourse, the use of language in its immediate oral form, the tribal times of her continuous present and repetition-insistence, are suggestive of radio as a medium, as a certain energy field presencing itself in her performative writing. But Stein’s relationship with radio is not purely symbolic. Stein scholars such as Sarah Wilson uncover a history of Stein’s interest in the radio following her celebrated US tour in the 1930s. Using as an example one of Stein’s last plays, Willie and Brewsie, Wilson shows that the bulk of Stein’s late work was inspired by broadcasting media:  Broadcasting provides a suggestive means of connecting Stein’s early aural experimentalism (as in the multiple echoing voices of “Bon Marche Weather”) with her later more popular, idiom. Resolutely oral, dialogic, and changeable, Stein’s artistic project finally finds its formal corollary in mid-century radio ... Through the 1930s and 1940s, Stein wrestles with the idea of radio as a kind of  32  public sphere — a forum in which self, other, and community can be constituted through talk. Her aurality must thus be understood as being as profoundly public in its orientations as it is private. (261) Radio in the 1930s and 40s, as Wilson points out, was invested in promoting social connections, which Stein takes up as also an intellectual problem:  The radio broadcast conveys a sense of an immediate and concentrated present; it begins again and again, as Stein’s characteristically insisted phrasings indicate to us ... A distinct kind of knowledge, knowing “by what you felt.” That is, the appeal of the radio is not exclusively informational, but it stands intellectually, just as it does physically, into more intimate and emotional territory. (263) Particularly useful for my project in Wilson’s reading of Stein is the notion of immediacy of presence, Stein’s present continuous, as that which has no fixed origin point and offers no particular resolution or closure but is a series of beginnings, a series of resonant repetitions graspable by intuition as fluid ways of rendering and synthesizing sense perceptions. Stein senses the tragedy of historicity, the tragic sense of time and destruction, and responds with art that frames the presence and continuity of people, thinking and sensing, and words, as ‘social energy’ cut off from the baggage of history and political geography, from having to deal with the founding fathers, Civil War, the relations between South and North, the bedrock of American history and lineage, free to sense around, see, hear, and feel, understand by understanding it, with the joy of immediacy as Stein did in her practice of meditating and writing. The aural/auditory writing of Stein captures this elusive immediacy of presence. Cinema, radio and jazz music provide models of composition, voice, and the grammar of meaning.  33  In “The Difference Sound Makes: Gertrude Stein and the Poetics of Intonation,” Scott Pound shows “how Stein’s work discloses a different difference than the one typically thought to structure meaning in language, a difference that registers aurally as intonation” (27). Pound’s emphasis on the rhythmic organization and treatment of words in Stein, “the rise and fall of their intonation” as a strategy that “structures meaning textually in the mode of speech by foregrounding intonation” (28) supports my claim that Stein’s writing operates as an auditory text that adheres to the logic of sound and music rather than conventional semantics. The relationship between sound and text is not just alluded to but explicitly engaged in Stein. In the opening of his article, Pounds points to a passage from another Stein lecture-essay, “The Gradual Making of The Making of Americans” where Stein discusses the role of drawing on sound in description, of sound as a synthesizer, as that which yields a complete picture/representation, the essence of a thing or person, as opposed to a myriad of atomic fragments that represent it analytically, by breaking it apart. Sound, more specifically and more technically, “the complete rhythm of a personality that I had gradually acquired by listening seeing feeling and experience” (qt. in Pound 28) was the one time, intuitive synthesis of elements and senses into one meaning, dislodged from mere logic and reason, brought back to the balanced sensorium of listening, seeing, feeling... The rhythm of a person or thing provided a complete inventory and distribution of lines, pixels, and points pertaining to it, a score as it were, and orchestrated them into one compositional unit of music, a melody, riff or refrain.  Pound’s ‘critical ingenuity’ lies in designing a method of analysis that shifts from the study of the lexical meanings of words toward the study of sounds yet without regard for metrics as a limiting type of study, too entangled in the textuality of words, and focusing  34  instead on the ‘suprasegmentals’, as Pound refers to pitch, stress, and duration of word-sounds.  Attention to ‘suprasegmentals’ as an area of study means in the first place attention to what supplies them, the ‘auditory imagination’ of the reader, in short the reading process. This necessarily multiple voice of readership obviously impacts the orientation of the work itself. “Factoring the material voice into literary reading” radically reformulates the question of “the ontological status of the poem” (31), positing the poem as a certain condition of possibility for meaning residing within vocalization or intonation, or to use Stein’s own term insistence, typically on the use of the same words within a paragraph, the repetition of words itself creating a difference, a distributional difference of sounds or insistencies as a melodic way of sustaining coherence.  To contribute to this discussion of aurality in Stein, I propose that the radical engagement with the auditory, by which I intend to stress Stein’s radical understanding of the role of voice in the reading and writing processes, resonates with McLuhan’s decisively more theoretical ‘explicitations’ of the ‘auditory text/acoustic space’ complex as inflected by the cubist figuration of the early Twentieth-Century experiments of Picasso and Braque. In that sense and in relation to the televised statement of McLuhan regarding the scandal of cubism quoted earlier, Stein is a cubist scandalist par excellence, dismissing the visual regime of language with its syntax and coded writing, turning to the audio-tactile model of speech and discourse as embodied and shared among a multiplicity of participants, an open-ended system of resonances among the particles — particulars of a larger structure.  The audio tactility of speech as sound, the tone and intonation of voice, the interplay of different voices through syncopation and counterpoint, and increasingly the mediated nature of voice as in radio and other media systems, are what give a certain radio megaphonic  35  resonance to Stein that invites and forges a participatory readership in the form of an aural/auditory reading. In line with McLuhan’s insights into the operations of media as extensions of human perception and cognition, and so embodied and situated, and along his emphasis on orality and ‘acoustic space’, the writings of Stein exemplify textual performance as a commentary on the sound literacy of the word and language. Read alongside McLuhan, a media theorist invested in the politics and poetics of late modernity, Stein’s writings are a literary manifestation of the poetics of statement that captures the fragmentation and displacement of voice as its Twentieth-Century ethos. What Stein achieves through poetics and experimentation while wandering the countrysides of France and Spain — a deindividuated audiovisual perception of the digital media systems —McLuhan discovers some forty years later in Canada through the methodical rhetorical analysis of media as social communication, by examining the messages of radio, television, advertising, and popular music.  Thanks to the poetic arousal of language to sound and sense-oriented literacy and meaning, Stein is indeed the mother of experimental poetics, dispersing the word spatially and acoustically, evoking the suspended sounds of text, the murmur and laughter of words in the form of snippets of overheard conversations, the timbre, tone, and intonation of spoken language, the pulsating audio life of a word filling the modern city and country. She brings about awareness that the mechanical age of the Twentieth-Century features not just a remarkable increase in the production and reproduction of images, as Walter Benjamin reminds us in his influential essay on the mechanical reproduction and the aura of the arts, but is the age of intense reproduction and transmission of the word in its auditory form, maximizing the capacity of language to distribute itself beyond grammar and semantics, as  36  well as norms and values hiding there, toward new forms of intimacy, the intimacy of contagion, into the numerousness of a modern city populated by crowds and packs, structured and orchestrated through a plethora of communication systems broadcasting simultaneously, claiming the same immediacy for all communicative pulses of audio-intensified city scapes. The ‘now’ moment of modernity, stretching and condensing time to the continuous present of Stein, is the simultaneous pulsing of multiple nows. The now moment of modernity and its peculiar organization in terms of the coming together of multiple forces constitutive of it, this simultaneity of multiple presences reminiscent of the radio offers a probe into Stein’s texts and writing, a probe into the nature of composition of the work of art as a poetic-aesthetic-theoretical consideration-theme taken up by Stein in her poetics. Through a range of different textual experiments, Stein meditates upon the notion of composition as a set of organizational principles, and questions the traditional model of the coherence of a work of art in terms of its beginning, middle, and end. Here I ask myself: what is Stein’s contribution to the deepening of the understanding of the notion and practice of composition as that which frames an artistic process? The uniqueness, I want to argue, lies in the interest in her idea of a series, as well as in her explorations of repetition as a resonating type of presence freed from a fixed origin and generative ground, a fluid becoming and distribution of heterogeneous differences. Through her poetics, as in Tender Buttons, and more explicitly in the lecture on “Composition as Explanation,” at a philosophical level as it were, Stein demonstrates that the relation of similitude and difference is itself relational, that the relations obtain amongst the relative units of the same system, coexisting and mutually constitutive parts of the same immanent assemblage of coherence, as in Deleuzoguattarian ‘plane of immanence’. Stein’s poetic insights throughout Tender  37  Buttons, “Composition as Explanation,” and The Geographical History of America pave the way toward immediacy-immanence as a model of composition, postulating thought as a systemic grasping of heterogeneous units as part of the same immanence, co-presence, akin to McLuhan’s mosaic and Deleuzoguattarian rhizome as a model of the plane of  immanence.   My explorations of Stein begin with geography, portraits of things, and the mapping of Tender Buttons as manners of composing, and move on to the germinal essay “Composition as Explanation,” which explores issues of timing and temporality as creative maneuvers at work on a compositional field, and in a performative way — as an actual lecture — theorizes the idea of composition. What interests me in particular, with regard to the notion of composition as implying the sense of structure, consistency, coherence, and boundaries, is Stein’s attention to the cadence of the spoken language — the melody and insistence or intonation of it, as Pound suggests — as itself compositional, as opposed to the idea of composition as a container. I argue that in contrast to this traditional idea of composition, Stein advances a series of experiments-statements aiming at the possibility of an immediate-immanent type of organization which spontaneously structures itself rather than being formed from the outside. This performative reorientation of text as immanent structure and as compositional field marks the new discursive possibilities of text and speech in the semantically open systems of the emerging electric media.  Turning to Stein’s plays, I am interested in the ways in which the relationships among writing, sound, and orality shape themselves in the genre of dramatic writing, and the vision of drama anticipated in Stein’s mode of theatre, exploring the possibility of a non-mediated auditory text, that renders the voice and text simultaneous. As Johanna Frank shows in her “Resonating Bodies and the Poetics of Aurality; Or, Gertrude Stein’s Theatre,” Stein’s  38  dramatic writing “anticipates a theatre of sounds” where the viewer no longer faces the visual dimension of drama but rather witnesses an aural spectacle, the resonating play of language as “the sounds of words” (501). In Frank’s reading, Stein’s drama differs significantly from other text-bound dramatic writing. This difference is traceable back to her use of deterritorialized language, words freed from their syntactical roles, as in the sonic portraiture of Tender Buttons, explorations of the relationship between voice and composition in her landscape theatre, specifically the 1918 An Exercise in Analysis, where I argue that the nature of composition is revealed as a spatialization and serialisation or permutation of sounds and voices, in the spirit of the ‘acoustic space’ of McLuhan. Stein’s shift from the single voice of the lecture to the multiple and disembodied voices of the plays resonates with the electrification of the voice in the radio and the increasing interest in public voice as a series of synchronous and simultaneous intonations or insistencies freed from a single coherent site of agency, as in some sort of contagion of radio waves.    Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, the play discussed in the last section of this chapter, illustrates a shift toward issues of the mediation of voice, self, writing, with a question of the relationship between knowledge and public visibility entering Stein’s thinking following her celebrated tour of the United States and various radio engagements and publicity stunts. Attentive to the question concerning the ethos of the voice in media system, I read this play in the context of indeterminacy, polysemy, and the logic of contradiction and difference that emerge earlier in Stein’s writings around the linguistic turn of the Tender Buttons period and which continue experiments with text as performance. Drawing on McLuhan’s analysis of print oriented literacies, and the way they shape human perception by emphasizing the sense of sight, I argue that Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights thematically embodies the rift between  39  sight and sound as two competing figurations of knowledge, imaging a playful — operatic — vision of knowledge that fuses the ear and the eye into a meditational/auditory cluster of voices, visible subject positions, and resonant doublings. In considering the nature of knowledge in relation to the body and biopower, Stein opts for an affective knowledge freed from the logos of print, knowledge that is not informational but affective/intuitive.  The opera exemplifies what Ong’s ‘secondary orality’, a return to the oral world, the world of integrated sensoria, offering an opportunity to examine the new perceptual and social positions of sound and/or voice emerging alongside the electric technology of radio, cinema, and telephone.  1. 2. The Geography of Text: Composition Decomposed As a thinker, Stein constructs an elaborate philosophy of knowledge and understanding in poetic form, in a series of works continuously overlapping and resonating with one another, ranging from poetic radical experiments to the investigative prose of her ‘theoretical works,’ such as her lectures; in discourse excited with music, tonality, intonations, sounds and orality, Stein dressed up as a thinker, somewhat ironically and mockingly yet seriously presenting herself as a genius, partakes in exciting investigations on the nature of composition, of world, matter, language, social structures, the mind, and art works; intricate questions at the time of concern to physicists, philosophers of language, anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, and artists. She is experimental in her methodology, guided by intuition, quirky, poetic, sketchy, avoiding easy solutions, rather piling up problems and questions. For example in the Geographical History of America, Stein, a thinker immersed in ideas and a writer immersed in immediate words is concerned with composition as matter and understanding; as organization and relationships between individual elements; as an immanent system of elements and relations translatable into other media or systems,  40  immanent in the sense of not extending over and beyond the totality of relationships among its elements. In her plays, as I will demonstrate in the subsequent section, Stein is investigating and practicing writing as landscape as an immanent formation, immanent presence without outside, structured in the process of its own composition; and in connection, is concerned with the relationship between space, in the most fundamental sense of the landspace as an immediately present presence, simply in the form of spatiality, and on the other hand, geography and history as human impositions scripted on top; as well she explores questions concerning the compositionality of voice as embodying this kind of immediate presence. Stein’s philosophical investigations regarding the concept of ‘composition’ are taken up as it were through composition itself, by composing and musicking her various writings.  As a philosophical concept, composition refers to a series of autonomous lines of research that Stein brings musically together. Composition and composition, as on the one hand structure or organization of matters and, on the other, a social political system, and, in the context of writing, as syntax, the structure of the sentence, of the sentence structure in contrast to the paragraph structure, of an essay in terms of its organizational elements and stages of thought, and in a larger sense a structure of the mind, consciousness, the brain in terms of the capacity and categories of thought, and cognitive emotive linguistic processes; micro and macro thematic streaks reappear in Stein, in the form of theoretical and literary texts, following several continuity lines. One line of relevance takes the reader from composition as explanation to composition as a type of meditation, specifically in the sense of writing as a form of meditation. Meditation in Stein, as Ulla Dydo explains in “Gertrude Stein: Composition as Meditation,” does not concern a particular subject matter; it is not a question of a consciousness directed at an object of perception, but a process of conscious  41  composing, and specifically “the verbal process” as Dydo calls it, drawing attention to that obvious other side of it in the form of the extant text. It is this extant text that ‘witnesses’ the meditative process in the first place, but the meditative process, as a technique of structuring thought in writing as well as the thematic consideration of the text, prepared in advance of the release of the text as text, is already there beforehand.  Dydo explains Stein’s process of meditative composing in the following description: “Words and word patterns shaped themselves in her mind in the process of rigorous concentration that allowed no interference from outside. This process of realizing perception is the Stein meditation. What Stein called a composition is the written process of meditation. Meditating does not precede composing but is composing” (42). This emphasis on the relationship between writing and meditating suggests a non-mimetic model of writing where words are free to be and interact amongst themselves rather than being chained to their referents as names naming objects and states. Language frees itself from syntax, however momentarily, to become a sound, a system of sounds, a music. Words are not narrative links but intensifiers, entities, events; they are autonomous, not bound by the rules of grammar and logic. Grammar and logic remain the immediate context of language, but dislodged, comically and dramatically, they begin to communicate at a different frequency or channel. Words are sounds, though not necessarily pure sounds or sounds only. They carry lexical meanings, sometimes very strongly, through emphasis and repetition, what Stein calls “insistence.” They carry meaning as intensifiers through slips and nuances and chordal vocalizations, for example in the way in Stein’s “Photograph” a sudden meditative thought balloon appears out of the blue, at the intersection of something best described as disembodied internal monologue and a list of characters: “A language tires. / A language tries to be. / A language  42  tries to be free” (153). In this languid yawn of a punctuated line there is a slip opening language to freedom of self-expression, language as a self-generating system. The line insists on language and words as free in the very act of postulating that freedom, as performatives and not by virtue of a legislative contract guiding the operations of words from outside themselves.  This postulation regarding words and language bears no resemblance to the infamous and confusing Derridean zinger in Of Grammatology: ‘there is nothing outside the text’ (158). Indeed, everything is outside the text, even the text itself, in the sense that there is no need to postulate logos/text/language as a transcendent legislative presence guiding discursive operations. In the description of Stein’s meditative writing mentioned above, there is no text interruption as an outside element of text; a piece of paper is the only adequate surface of writing and anything can happen on that page at any given moment; there is no pre-established grid of coordinates to coordinate in the process of writing. The process of writing is its own process of composition. This process of micro-composition, composition at the level of individual words and phrases, resonates with the compositional nature of language at its macro or meta sphere. In that regard, one could say that language and its grammar are internal immanent phenomena; they form from within complex social interactions through sedimentation. Stein’s performative captures the very process of this formation, beginning with a slip between “tires” and “tries,” gradually arriving at the seeming completion of the statement with its postulate of freedom as the horizon of language in the virtual arch of marching thoughts: words as a Deleuzoguattarian line of flight, in relation to the sounds, the auditory ecology surrounding them. The same set of words can condemn a person to death, liberate another, form a nonsense poem, be a line in a skit or part of an advertising poster.  43  This is because social material realities in whatever presence they manifest — verbal or non-verbal — reside outside texts and signification, merely passing through them. Nietzsche knows all about the signifier; how beautiful, seductive, deceptive, hegemonic, idiotic, empty, and dangerous it is, all at the same time; this is where his Dionysus laughs his best, heartiest laughter. They understand that the signifier is always subject to change without text-notice, even within the law.  Dydo’s emphasis on the form of concentration that allows “no interference from outside” is telling in another respect. In Stein, the outside is not contrasted with inside along a demarcating line that would offer a clear boundary between the world and self, but postulates a oneness in the form of a continuous intensity, an event of being mapped in the way the objects and states of Tender Buttons are portrayed-articulated. It’s a way of looking out in meditation, contemplating the world rather than one’s own feelings, a form of what I would call ‘outrospection,’ compositional mediative directing at the world out there. There is a hint of such outrospection in Dydo’s further comment: “She looked at the world and she described literally what she saw. Her meditative literalism is the literalism of saints who contemplate in their exercises what there is to see” (43). Saints are figurations of the ground and world, a part of social geography, populating it with the invisible presence and bringing the divine logos/signifier down to the earth and the material social relations, away from vertical orthodoxies of institutionalized religions. In his Martyrology series, Canadian bpNichol offers a fantastical commentary and extension of this project, creating a whole social cosmology of sainthood as a grid of ordinary streets, conversations, and poetic encounters ultimately arising out of words beginning with St, with Saint Ein/St.Ein/Stein as one of the presiding presences of this living social materiality of the world.   44  Dydo connects meditation with composition in its two senses, as organization of matters and social system, but she likewise links meditation with voice as its carrier: “What carries the meditation along is voice” (44). Voice offers itself as a medium, collective rather than personal, though ‘collective’ should not be understood in terms of totality or commonality. (The problem of common sense is haunting contemporary theory with regard to the issue of subjectivity: is common sense a rate of production, a ratio of productivity of the popular/common subject or a threshold by which or a screen on which this non-existing subject is projected so that it can be claimed/appropriated by those powers invested in appealing to it? Powers who can speak on behalf of the people, addressing the people?). The key paradox of the popular revolves precisely around the forces and ghosts constitutive of subjectivity. It could very well be a fragmented, partial subjectivity speaking but it is nonetheless a population, a multitude.  A composition in the sense of a constructed — premeditated and executed — meditation aims not at generating a paraphrasable insight but at “a pure voice” (Dydo): the movement of articulation, expression itself, a speech — as a sounding out, a direct way of releasing words. Here lies the paradox of the voice and speech in their general function transcending an individual, yet requiring it ever anew as a medium to speak the voice: speech passing through particulars but essentially detached from the subject in the form of an already preexisting discourse — a discursive paradigm, as in Deleuze and Guattari’s postulates regarding language and the collective forms of enunciation. The question of consciousness as a multiplicity becomes particularly relevant in the last section in which I discuss Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights.  45  The question of composition in Stein is also linked with geography, taken up in different works over the years. Stein’s growing interest in geography throughout the 1920s (her collection of texts Geography and Plays appears in 1922) is connected with her actual travels, her joy of observing the moving landscape, her excitement of staying in farms and country houses. The theme of geography further extends through the 1930s with the tour of the United States and resulting in The Geographical History of America where Stein becomes fascinated with the flatness of America, refusing to acknowledge much of its history and politics, taking a detached, geographical point of view that emphasizes continuity or a series of continuities rather than geographical and historical divisions and boundaries between north and south or a pre or post civil war as foundational moments in American history. For Stein, this kind of history would be merely a vertical listing of data of the so-called important historical moments or events, culled from history books; it would not be an understanding, but a listing of information. In contrast, the theme of geography in Stein’s writing is shaped in relation to the various geographies/spaces/places/locales/transitions experienced and lived through during her sojourns into Spain, the move into the French countryside, frequent automobile journeys far and wide, and in the 30s what we may call the radio tour of America, as radio was the unique and new medium of presentation engaged by Stein, presenting her voice and text as at last embodied in the radio voice, on the ‘megaphone’ broadcasting to America.  The theme of geography is likewise connected with Stein’s interest in visual art, her substantial collection of modernist paintings and considerable expertise in the field of modern visual art sealed with several close friendships. Stein produced a number of portraits of influential painters, with the most influential being Picasso and Cézanne. Cézanne,  46  particularly regarding his geography, as depictions of a landscape or cityscape as systematically etched in the canvas with his endless brushstrokes, influences Stein on the idea of the distribution of landscape itself, of landscape constituted by a cluster of brushstrokes, pixilated into a myriad of splotches each of the same importance as the others, each resonating at all times with all others, in relation to all as one system, or ‘plane of immanence’. Following that line, Stein’s fascination with the revolutionary transformation of the tools, objects, and strategies of pictorial representation taking place at the time is taken up critically as the problem of creative writing and thinking, of re-presenting and imagining through words, of inventing a way of ‘seeing’ and hearing of the text, of the living presence of the language of text in its auditory, typographic, and semantic complexity.  Inspired by cubism, Stein experiments with writing as a multi-perspectival optic that captures movement, in the sense of not only the kinetics of the objects and states of things, but also of the process of taking them in, blurring the boundary between subjective and objective perception and representation. These ‘optical’ experiments evolve alongside her preoccupation with the problem of time, of how to act — as a writer — in and out of step with time, compressing a whole era to a sentence here and then stretching a miniscule moment of time to pages of text there, of capturing the moment and the passage of time as something inherently out of line with syntax and so inventing a syntax and ways of thought matching the task of enjoyable knowledge: daily peregrinations and meditations, ululations and chanting, that become part of performances aimed at creating and understanding the complex auditory optics of places, mapping out places as plays. The movement of landscape as observed from a car, the problem of the visual representation of objects, people and relationships between things, and the kinetic/auditory dimension of writing all interlace.   47  In her landscape theatre, taken up in the following section — a transparent map of Stein’s wrestling with geography — she simultaneously negotiates between understanding as a cognitive process of grasping reality, description as a tactical and analytic procedure of focusing on a particular thing or detail, and being present in the act of writing as expression, speech, and voice, a performative ekstasis. Geography in this context of a moving landscape becomes a dynamic category that comprises complex spatial and temporal interrelationships of things by contemplating, uttering, and recreating the ordinary “relations of one thing to the other thing,” highlighting the simultaneity of these relations rather than seeing them as a sequence requiring a temporal order. Brought to the level of the page as a form of canvas, a space of inscription, geography transforms into a figure and objective of a compositional process. As Dydo puts it in The Language that Rises drawing on Stein’s notebooks, “‘[g]eographically to place’ is not about stable location on a map but about movement in compositional space by shifts in rhythms, resonance, and point of view. Geography explores volume in auditory construction or in a swelling sheaf of writing” (72). Dydo’s poetic line performs the very blending enacted by Stein where the perception of the world and the perception of the act of writing or inner state coexist as ‘naturally’ belonging together.   Geography for Stein is akin to Deleuzoguattarian mapping, in the sense of experimentation and creation rather than a replication or repetition of what exists. Reality indeed cannot be the starting axiom or fact but the objective of a creatively pictorial process, an imaging and approximation that reveal, leaf by leaf, the layers of the possible, populating it with percepts, affects, and functives. The map itself, as an innovative construct, a cartography, adds a new and unique dimension to the existing system of spatial relations, which exist insofar as they are framed in a particular way, as a composition (always already a relation of  48  one thing to the other thing with all relations possible, with all things ultimately connected, like in a Deleuzoguattarian rhizome). Mapping in this sense breaks away from the established taxonomies that normalize relationships among elements, and opens up new taxonomizations, new ways of arranging and naming, and along with that new ways of thinking and conceptualizing objects, things, people, encounters, concepts, as for example practiced in Tender Buttons.   As an example of mapping, in the opening lines of Tender Buttons Stein constructs an image of a carafe as one of the objects in a series that constitutes the first section of the long poem. “A kind in glass and a cousin, a spectacle and nothing strange a single hurt color and an arrangement in a system to pointing. All this and not ordinary, not unordered in not resembling. The difference is spreading” (461). The carafe is described in a series of striking phrases not having too much to do with carafes, particularly in the phrase “an arrangement in a system to pointing,” which may strike one as related to structuralism. What remains of the carafe in this ‘description’ is a clustering rather than a clear essence to match a specific idea. The impression of the carafe is no longer a commonly expected likeness of the object but a compositional construct that maps both the essence of the thing carefully abstracted from its empirical content and a series of possible appearances, a virtuality that unhinges it from a fixed way of viewing things, allowing multiple points of view to enter the image simultaneously.  Part of arranging has to do with abstracting; in the process of abstracting, the sensible content of an actual carafe being painted or described has to be translated into another medium, an image on a canvas or a group of words on a page. This compositionality reflects the nature of carafes as ordinary things, which happen to be both aesthetic objects and  49  containers. At the level of language, in challenging traditional ways of describing things by compiling a set of effective adjectives to describe an object, Stein postulates and demonstrates, requires us figuratively to empty it of adjectives habitually used in producing descriptions and to focus on the thing or state, the ‘thisness’ of things to use a scholastic philosophical tool, in a way, to bypass language as natural/cultural obstacle in seeing-perceiving the world around.  In affective, observable reality, a carafe cannot be emptied. It is never an object empty of empirical content, because even if emptied of liquid, and particularly when empty, it remains full of light, reflections, and resemblances confusing the observing eye and mind. Therein lies the difference that denies the possibility of similitude in the first place. Even though the mind can technically propose an idea of a carafe in itself, at the level of the immediacy of affective experience the proposition seems absurd. In real life carafes make sense only in relation to other things, furniture, people, houses, drinks, activities, practices — the impatient hand reaching for it, erasing in the act the purely intelligible content — in short the whole context. The carafe is compositional in the sense of being composed and of being a part of a larger composition, as notes, chords, and riffs of the vibrating world. Is the carafe half full or half empty, one may ask. This question shifts the whole discussion, now directed at the viewer and their habitual attitude of seeing things rather than the object itself; it tests not the object but the mood of the viewer. The carafe transforms momentarily into a gauge for a different phenomenon.  The constructed nature of the carafe enacted by the phrasing of “an arrangement,” a kind of composition, marks a departure point of a compositional process for a painter working on the still image of a carafe, which requires a way of arranging lines and points on a canvas  50  or paper, but also the arriving point, the complete work, which is a geometrical figure constructed of dots and splotches of color, offering depth, shape, volume, dimension, intensity, all the multiple aspects of the sensible in the object of perception. The final product then is a compositional arrangement of lines and colors, a map that does not replicate — is not a tracing of — an actual carafe, but literally points to it. “Literally points to what exactly,” one may rightly ask. Does the image of a carafe on a canvas point to the original carafe as real object and representational model for the aesthetic figuration, a symbolic object? This question implies a somewhat naive model of mimesis not seemingly applicable to Stein’s Tender Buttons. The mimetic simplicity here lies in an epistemic reductionism that delimits a thing in terms of its two universal co-components, appearance and reality, rendered in aesthetic terms as the relationship between the original object and its symbolic representation. Yet, for Stein, the unique being of a carafe as revealed in the process of mapping proposes that both actual and constructed carafes are technically speaking systems — composites — of particles or points.  The idea of an original as naturally fixed and constituting a metaphysical first in a series of resemblances is out of place. What emerges is a series of constructs that articulate the thing in a dynamic relationship to other things. In this regard, the very name “carafe” is already a form of simulacrum naturalized by the system of language with its established ways of taxonomizing and naming things. Not only are adjectives are an obstacle at getting at the essence of the thing, but so too are nouns: the name itself. At the outset of the project, Stein has to undo this naming part of the carafe, its logos, by renaming the object. Although technically a noun phrase retains a name-like quality, it departs from the signifier-noun as single entity towards a statement as a multiplicity model of naming.   51  Stein’s ‘description’ ends with the manifesto-like “[t]he difference is spreading” (461). The spreading difference, itself a form of arrangement, here ushers in a whole series of mappings that follow the carafe, each offering a radical reconfiguration of the objects in terms of their unordered non-resemblance in both observing and thinking as well as descriptive techniques of mapping them onto a page. A carafe is literally a distributor of various liquids into various smaller containers, such as glasses, cups, and mugs. This literal meaning of a carafe indeed coincides with its absolute or universal dimension, of a composite, temporal, and particulate multiplicity in the expanding universe where it remains to be part of the continuous flux of matter. It is in this spirit that Tender Buttons proceeds to sing the glory of common foodstuff and related domestic activities as a way of being, thinking, expressing, a model of tender poetic communication. Stein hears the multiplicitous playfulness and life at the level of small sounds and objects in the way a nuclear physicist does thinking of their subatomic particles and strange forms of matter. The feminist vision of working away from the centre, of dismantling and decentring the authoritarian logocentrism, is part of the project initiated in Tender Buttons, which explicitly addresses in the famous opening lines of “Rooms” the call to act against a centre, “so that there is no use in a centre” (498). The imperative used by Stein, and frequently employed throughout the poem, indexes a subversive heteroglossia at work here, reclaiming the authoritarian command while radically shifting its epistemic and discursive grounds, giving the command over to a polysemic manipulation, spreading the difference.  The language of Tender Buttons suggests a high level of displacement with word formations radically removed from their word functions and systems of grammar and meaning. The words are on the move, particularly the nouns, as Tender Buttons was,  52  according to Stein herself, an attempt to write against nouns and names — to take command over and reinvent/reconfigure them — and toward movement and transformation: writing as a Deleuzoguattarian line of flight. This ‘deterritorialization’ of language, to use a Deleuzoguattarian term, mimics the way in which the very objects that proliferate throughout the poem behave: no longer stable beings that remain in a fixed relation to one grammar and typology but dynamic becomings, words dissociated from their grammatical functions, set free outside syntactical rules, out of bounds and wild, tactile, auditory, expressive, and vibrating with possible meanings. The opening of the section titled “Food” is one of the many examples of Stein’s use of words as dynamic becomings. Here we have a portrait of Roastbeef, clearly offering no resemblance to the object described, postponing the image to arrive rather at its other side, finding its other dimension, its sound, its own peculiar rhythm, style of breathing and living, and vibratory intensity, manifested through subtle sexual innuendo: “In the inside there is sleeping, in the outside there is reddening, in the morning there is meaning, in the evening there is feeling” (477).  “Discourse in Tender Buttons,” writes Marguerite Murphy, “has a double direction: literally toward the referential object as she ‘describes’ the world around her, refreshing the ‘words’ ordinarily attached to that world, and toward others’ speech in her mimicry of other sorts of discourse” (393). In a move away from referentiality toward an interplay of meaning units foregrounded as kinetic-expressive planes, Stein’s experimental poem operates as a self-contained system that is integrated, simultaneous, as well as both static and moving continuously, a whole that consists entirely of its parts, does not invite transcendence, offers little outside reference beyond the ordinary meanings of words, and presents no easy escape into theory. As DeKoven suggests, “the meanings the writing articulates have nothing to do  53  with an anterior theme or subject: there is nothing we can say the writing is about” (221). The long poem composed of fluid portraits and sketches of things and states of things can rather be theorized as a compositional field, a field of immanence in a Deleuzoguattarian sense, enfolding from within its own self, by the power of its own vocalization, a system or container that ultimately refers to itself, hence Stein’s teaser “an arrangement in a system to pointing” (461).  We can picture Tender Buttons to be the name of a box containing diverse objects and relationships, but it also is the naming itself of things and their different  — epistemic, aesthetic, social — functions, and could be a hidden referent known only to the initiates. The challenge in Tender Buttons, both for Stein as an architect or sculptress of the new vision and for the reader invited actively to participate in the construction and deployment of it, lies in comprehending the audiovisual scope of the new — analogously to the way cubist paintings require the cooperation of the eye unaccustomed to navigating new perspectives where the intelligible, ideas and concepts, meet the strictly sensible, perceptions and feelings. A method of perceiving, naming, and interacting with things is the subject proper here, the only proper description of what the poem is about. Not without irony, evoking Cartesian meditations in Discourse on Method, one could say that Tender Buttons is a prose-poem about method, both a poetic statement and a manifesto about the way of seeing, hearing, and recording objects and things, referred to in the title as “buttons,” about tenderly taking them in. As Peter Quartermain suggests in Disjunctive Poetics: From Gertrude Stein and Louis Zukofsky to Susan Howe, the meaning of the poem lies in “language, the voices, the play in and of language” (19); it’s about the method of language, inquiring into the rules and irregularities of poetic syntax. This interpretive take explains why Stein often gives herself over to  54  extravagance and excess in pushing the boundaries of conventional speech in order to develop her own unconventional new language.  Language is at the core of this shift in writing toward experiments, toward constructing immanent presents. Language, Stein observes performatively, is what works against the centre, displacing the authoritative discourse, striving toward semantically open systems, toying with indeterminacy, multiplicity, polysemy, and contradiction. Stein’s is language splintering through the syntactic and semantic crust and exiting onto some unreal or otherwise impossible, yet concrete, other or outside, orbiting and glowing fantastically there, with a visionary/auditory glow.  The linguistic turn in Stein happens alongside her preoccupation with composition and marks a new line of investigations concerning wholeness, taking up the notion of landscape and landscape writing as paradigmatic of an open-ended, albeit integrated, coordinated and controlled, immanent system that embraces a range of oppositions and categorizations of language, speech, and writing, for example encompassing both stability and movement, sameness and change. The portraiture of Tender Buttons is crucial in the way Stein begins to construct portraits outside of persons proper, aiming at scenes and dramatizations, targeting objects and things, capturing the relations of one thing to the other thing in a dramatic sonic movement of landscape/place. Tender Buttons projects and embodies a new model of totality or the presence of being: without outside boundaries or closure, and without a centre, becoming a ‘plane of immanence’, an immanent presence of things, durations, states, objects, working the mind into thinking of immanence as distribution. Stein’s prose poem, according to Murphy, “seems to connote incompletion — a faltering of stability, anxiety over the changes made, or her own dallying on the edge of the unsayable” (393).   55  The line of thought in Tender Buttons is linked with the idea of composition as a structure that in turn structures thought, as a space or plane that provides boundaries, the bounds of a thing, in the sense of a context or environment that the things possess or are associated with. There is a cognitive aspect of Stein’s investigations, at times mocking cognition, at other times trying a radically unique and creative approach to it, yet at other times trying diligently to make sense of things and thinking, that reappears throughout different works. The dimension of thinking and thought is always comically or seriously present in Stein’s writing. No matter what she writes, Stein writes as a thinker, impersonating a philosopher whose goal is to understand something intricate, difficult, escaping the grasp, always on the verge of a new discovery. Some of the titles, like An Exercise in Analysis, An Elucidation, Composition as Explanation, Useful Knowledge, Lectures in America, and The Geographical History of America or the Relation of Human Nature to the Human Mind, make more or less explicit references to thinking, at times in marked contrast to the content. Ultimately, the thought, ‘tender thinking’, in Tender Buttons points toward a compositional plane or field, a composition, as an exposition or explanation of that very field, its structuring, ideas, depths: an idea Stein tackled in her more ‘theoretical’ works.  In its fascination with distribution, arrangement, organization, structuring, and mapping, Tender Buttons sets up a precedent of investigative thinking that erupts in a series of ‘theoretical’ works. “An Elucidation” may be the first in a series of explanatory texts/lectures Stein produced at the time in preparation for a short lecture tour of England. This experimental text tackles the idea of structure as in itself explanatory, investigating the anatomy of explanation, of its own particular shape. Exactly how to understand this text remains a puzzle. Dydo calls it “an immensely difficult work” while describing it as  56  “discontinuous reading, a loose assemblage of bits and pieces” (47). On the surface, the essay blends two distinct types of writing, one a descriptive landscape that aims at elucidating the arrangement and meaning of geographical markers as they enter the view; the other a series of sentimental and childish love verses. These love verses, referred to in the text as a “Baby’s type writing” (qt. in Dydo 50), interrupt the flow of the other, elucidatory discourse, contributing their own outpouring throughout the ‘essay’ in elucidation. This unexpected eruption of private language initially loses the reader not intended to witness the piece dedicated to Stein’s lover and partner Alice Toklas. Only after digging through letters and other papers did Stein scholars discover that the text is peppered with coded language, offering sexual connotations known only to the two women, but at the same time serving as an apt description of the writing style, grammar and diction of the babbling text.  The deeper clue with regard to the concept of elucidation as the one taken up in this ‘essay’ lies exactly there, on the surface, in the babbling itself, which embraces love, openly and explicitly, as a necessary component of a philosophical enquiry. Here Stein embraces the affect as a path toward deeper understanding, also relating the pursuit of knowledge with pleasure, as a form of gaiety, gay science. Elucidation, Stein claims, concerns lucid writing and thinking not in the sense of being transparent to all, but as a deeply meditative and affective — loving — engagement with the actual world available at a given moment of the continuous present. One might say here Stein advances her philosophy. Philosophy after all is by definition a love of wisdom; it cannot proceed — or begin — without affections. In a sense, it cannot proceed without beginning over and over again with an affective, emotional gesture, as a renewed continuity of thought. As for wisdom as insight versus knowing by acquaintance, it lies for Stein anywhere around, in any given object, concept, perception, or  57  phenomenon as truly given. Truly given signifies here any object, person or aspect of reality that appears in their unconcealed being and as such can be taken up in a poetic philosophical enquiry in contrast to the givens of logical or scholarly explanations that only pretend to be given in actuality replicating a particular step of a systematically worked out proof presented to the student for memorization.  In “Composition as Explanation,” as I am to demonstrate, Stein addresses the idea of explanation, and so a quest for truth, wisdom, and knowledge in ‘geographical’ terms, as a space or field of relations, including temporal relations though recomposed or reimaged in a mosaic form of continuous presence, as a continuous melodic lasting of elements rather than a passing of them, which would involve issues of memory, recollection, and reflection that Stein is not interested in. In “An Elucidation” Stein turns to geography as immediate presence, a hybrid interpenetration of landscape, affect, and language/thought.  Stein begins the elucidation puzzlingly with harbours and rivers, and having and halving them, transforming the very words, making them dance, in order to confront the reader — indeed confront herself as reader and writer of her own text — with something not yet known and requiring immediate elucidatory attention. As it unfolds in the process of meditative writing, harbours and rivers are likewise geographical markers, drawing attention within the text to the actual elements of landscape, observed and registered in the act of writing, seeing, and contemplating. In the concluding section of her close reading of “An Elucidation,” Dydo with graceful simplicity elucidates the mystery of rivers and harbours, as well as having and halving. Both pairs can be read in many ways, both as contrasted — two nouns versus two verbs — and interconnected — for example halve and harbour connected through the French for harbour, havre. To the American ear, she offers, having and halving  58  are homophones. The exact number of possible readings is likely uncertain but the exact placing of the four words in relation to one another suggests a hermeneutic systematicity that would exhaust the possible readings and arrive at the interpretive closure by some form of approximation. This formal analysis outlines a theory of reading pertinent to the case of simplistically babbling text unexpectedly turned complex. Less formally, this hermeneutic offers a straightforward reading in line with the dynamic of the simple text, and so avoids complex signifiers. Here Dydo offers that the love context provides the effective way to elucidate the geographical markers of the elucidation: rivers flow into harbours as symbolic destination points, offering unities. Having and halving are likewise markers of love, of having and sharing, breaking in half to share. Having and halving are connected in multiple ways. Following Dydo’s reading, one observes that the participle “having” is repeated in “halving” with the insertion of the ‘L’ word. In other words, there is a level of signification that makes sense deeply in a hermeneutic way to please a reader interested in interpretive depths and convolutions of significations, but that’s not what the passage or essay is about. The essay is, rather, about quickness, the quickness of the mind to utilize and compute its critical thinking skills, without the need to dwell on the comprehensible. To put it cryptically, the essay is about the melody of understanding.  Written in 1923, “An Elucidation” is a puzzling philosophical/poetic preamble to a subsequent explanatory text, Stein’s extraordinary 1926 Oxford and Cambridge address, “Composition as Explanation.” The lecture intended for a specific audience takes up the theme of geography as a dynamic compositional space in the context of explanation as process. It is this spirit of happy geography — time-space social geography — and of happy thought that mobilizes the lecture and its key objective — explaining to university students  59  what explanation consists of both in its essence and its relation to the time of explanation as a common denominator of the understanding for all present: modernity.  In “Gertrude Stein’s ‘Composition as Explanation’,” Bruce Bassoff proposes what I would call a resonant reading of the lecture by suggesting that it is best interpretable or readable through “juxtaposing its elements with similar elements of other works” (76), other works, let us add, not immediately related to the lecture, but in the air so to speak. Specifically, Bassoff wants to show how Stein’s thematic concerns in the lecture resonate with “some of the salient principles of semiotic analysis” (76). This resonant reading is, in Bassoff’s view, justified by the fact that Stein’s lecture is inherently resisting meaning and sense in a traditional understanding of these terms, indeed as explicit expectations of readers.  In his relational reading of the lecture, Bassoff shows that Stein’s discourse resonates with semiotics and structuralism. “This relational emphasis [of Stein’s lecture] is fundamental to French structuralism, inspired as it is by the linguists’ discovery of the phoneme, which has only a relative reality and is never experienced concretely” (76). What for Stein counts as composition is a space of relations that Bassoff finds analogous to “the dialectical possibilities of Levi-Strauss’s view of culture ... [and] his analysis of myth” (79). In particular, Stein’s emphasis on time as an internal component of composition, as one of the composing elements, is reminiscent of Levi-Strauss’s “musical analysis of myths” (79), his discounting of the original myth as a foundational mythic reality or original story in favor of a simultaneity of related myths, as a series of variations without the original theme, “a kind of continuous present - a synchronic construction out of the debris of history” (79). For Bassoff, Stein’s repetitions of “beginning again and again” and “using everything” (literally Levi-Strauss’s bricolage, and distribution (the spreading difference) are the activating  60  compositional forces that compose its internal coherence resonating through the various levels of resemblance, similitude, resonance, and likeness with other systems, by virtue of these intersystemic discontinuities and leaps. In that regard, one may ask, whether Stein intends to launch here a fascinatingly impossible project of considering everything in relation to everything (see ahead to Cage’s “all answers answer all questions”) as a self-composing and self-referential mechanism or domain, a continuous enfolding, an entropy distributing itself. This entropic theme is important for understanding how Stein as a thinker deals with the traditional expectations of coherence in a character and story line, each of which demarcates the outline of destiny as well as the horizon of meaning and coherence (Bassoff 80). Stein recognizes that these expectations are no longer available to a thinker and artist aware of the fragmentation of the world, the character, and the absolute systems of coherence.  Indeed “Composition as Explanation” leaves the reader with the impression that it explains little or nothing. It is perhaps a little more clear with regards to the critical issues it wants to engage, repetition and insistence in particular, though these can be best explained in poetic terms, like in a writing that has “a constant recurring and beginning... a marked direction in the direction of being in the present... composition forming around... [as] a prolonged presence” (25); in a composition as “the using of everything” (25); and in “an inevitable beginning of beginning again and again and again” (26) as signaled half way through the lecture. The lecture can be divided into two parts. The first addresses the theme of composition in general, situating it in relation to its time — its social and historical context — as a marker of its specificity, what Stein refers to as the time-sense of the composition. In this section, she explains characteristics of a classic and what makes it beautiful. The second part  61  discusses Stein’s own works — specifically two of them, Three Lives and The Making of the Americans — examples of another sense of time, of the writer in this case working toward developing a unified conception of time within their work, here referred to as the time-sense in the composition. In this first section Stein offers a distinction between the prolonged present and the continuous present as two models of narrative time, failing to clarify, however, the difference between them.  On the surface, it may seem like the lecture provides two sets of valuable insights, pertaining to the understanding of an epoch as a special sense of presence experienced and shared by a larger collective, and offering intimate comments on her own works. The relative redundancy of the terminology and the performative idiosyncrasy of the discourse itself, however, suggest something else. According to Dydo, the lecture “speaks of an idea central to all Stein’s work — that compositions are complete only if they are self-explanatory, requiring no interpretations beyond what they are” (78). As a compositional field, a system or structure sustained by repetitions and oscillations of a group of related concepts, in melodic relations of one thing to the other thing, the lecture is ultimately a composition in its own right rather than a set of insights explaining something outside itself. In response to the present moment as a kind of ecology, a contemporaneity, Stein offers an exemplary modernist composition articulated from within its own presence, through its own tempo, rhythm, ambience, and voices. The opening contention of the text of the lecture, namely that all is the same except for composition, accords compositionality a special status, defining it as a differential rather than a fixed concept. This rhetorical move delimits the actual practice of seeing and doing things within a period of time, which ultimately must remain open-ended, as possible to theorize  62  from inside, captured in the moment before its end and by the same token enabling the moment to stretch the present into a relatively lasting period. Here Stein gives the present moment its epochal dimensions, its critical depth against the fragmentation of insignificant seconds and details of life: “The only thing that is different from one time to another is what is seen and what is seen depends upon how everybody is doing everything” (21). This statement reappears several times throughout the opening of the lecture, though always with a subtle difference that renders it different in itself, as in “[n]othing changes from generation to generation except the thing seen and that makes a composition” (21) several lines down. Stein proposes here that the duration of time alone, the length of seconds and minutes adding up to form lasting periods, does not make a composition, because a composition is an arrangement, “a thing seen,” a thing and aggregates of things perceived, which is to say available for a form of reflective-collective viewing. Stein’s emphasis is on viewing, but the implication of this whole series of statements extends beyond the eye of the viewer into the whole technology of perceiving under specific conditions particular to the moment and thanks to a system of amplifications that prosthetically extends perception into a bio-technology. This ocular metaphor, the exploding eye, which shatters one kind of perspective and enables other kinds of viewing, is at the bottom of this transformation, setting up the explosion within the methods and technologies of perception. Perception becomes more attuned to vibrations and resonances; it becomes auditory. All this makes composition differential — “it confuses, it shows, it is, it looks, it likes it is as it is, and this makes what is seen as it is seen” (21) — as a set of specific differences as well as a method of registering affectively the presence and duration of the present, what Stein further refers to as the “time-sense.”  63  In this explosive spirit, Stein mentions war, offering a distinction between two kinds of processes — things as they are called in the text: those made by being made and those made by being prepared. In the same breath, art is compared to war: both are “a thing prepared.” This comparison suggests that “a thing prepared” differs from things “made by being made” by the intention toward change, an intention not free from creative violence, of destroying one thing in order to create another. The notion of preparing has special significance for Stein though it is unlikely that the word means always exactly the same thing, nor is the meaning immediately clear. It may be partly a ‘private’ word, loaded in a special way known only to both women. For example, in the love verses of “An Elucidation,” Stein expressly promises her lover Alice Toklas that she will refrain from preparing. She promises that she will give her orgasms and keep writing her masterpieces and that there will be no burden of preparing between them. In that context, preparing is bad; it is a nuisance that spoils the purity of unconditional affection by introducing an intentional distance to the action itself. Love cannot be premeditated or otherwise mediated by thought; it has to be filled entirely with itself as an all encompassing undifferentiated excess. Self-reflexivity is the enemy of love.  Although Stein doesn’t offer the exact meaning of being prepared, the distinction between “made as made” and “made as prepared” applied in the context of what follows makes it relatively clear. Stein’s intention here is to explain what “creating a modern composition authentically” is all about. Given that compositionality is a differential concept and not a general term, it can be meaningfully discussed only in the context of specific practice, not as a set of formal characteristics. Yet the lecture programmatically refuses details of modernity, offering just two examples of Stein’s own work, themselves rather out of step  64  with her actual practice of writing, taking up ‘ancient’ cases or ‘classics’ of her own oeuvre. The reason for this refusal lies in Stein’s positioning herself as a kind of philosopher aiming at providing the students with epochal insights and not empirical details. Stein’s performative lecture effectively produces a composition in response to the question of what composition is, advancing composition theory as practice rather than a theoretical way of knowing. For “[n]aturally one does not know how it happened until it is well over beginning happening” (24). In this regard, Stein is saying that ultimately theory makes sense only insofar as it is itself unfixed, open to registering and analyzing specific situations as significant variations of the recurrent pattern of use. It is this framing of theory as unfixed that enables the study of language as a marker of social change.  The field of ‘social situatedness’ has no clear boundaries, not even a fixed methodology. Social situations are neither innovative nor non-innovative. The category of originality hardly applies. They are phenomena of a different kind, describing operations and doings of groups and the subtle changes that occur under constant or sudden social exigencies. In this sense, ‘social situatedness’ is a perfect example of what Stein means when she says that “no one is ahead of his time” (22). The problem of time is ecological, of breathing the same air, so to speak. Nobody ‘naturally’ steps outside their environment for a breath of a different air. Yet, an awareness of one’s environment is not so simply a natural thing to know or do. When it comes to awareness, it is almost exactly the opposite of just being or doing: nobody is ‘naturally’ in step with their contemporaries. Rather, everybody acts at all times in some form of critical distance to what they are or do as well as a different length of distance to the awareness of their others. This part of practice, then, has to come from somewhere other than the already established ways of doing things, and so from outside the established  65  knowledge of social situations, even though it is after all part and parcel of social situations themselves. The problem may seem exceedingly abstract, but at bottom it poses the dramatically important question of how social change is produced.  The suggestion that social change is produced in the act of war, which in turn resembles art as reconfiguration rather than an aesthetic pleaser characteristic of established canons, referred to by Stein in the lecture as classics, resonates with Heraclitus’s philosophy of radical flux or becoming. Considered deep, obscure, oracular, Heraclitus postulates that war is the progenitor and ruler of all, a universal — metaphysical — principle that explains the constant flux of all reality, and a legal and ethical gauge of justice within the domain of social relations. War, fire, change, and becoming signify a sense of movement, in a way the same movement as applied across different scales of human activities, from politics, to physics, to poetics, to metaphysics.  Stein’s repetition — with notable variations — of “beginning again and again [as] a natural thing even when there is a series” (23) explains composition as an organic entity, something living and teeming with reality and not an abstract, artificially imposed narrative frame or transcendent container. Such an organic composition, Stein implies, has to have its own time-sense, own method of structuring elements, pores through which it connects with the world at once surrounding and constituting it, the world with its shifts and changes of which it is a continuously enfolding expression; it has to be immanent to itself, abolishing distinctions between matters and subjects, bodies and minds, objects and experiences, innerand outer selves. At stake is the elaboration of the ‘present continuous,’ a way of writing which enables a convincing capturing of human nature as a living time-continuum that consists of heterogeneous elements — multiplicities. The continuous present of Stein is not a  66  snapshot of reality, a still frozen in time, but a pulsating presence which in itself constitutes an extension — extending as far as the system of interconnected affective lines that reveal the character — the ethos of the age — in its complex being. The notion of the continuous present is not reducible to language, to the grammatical form and sentence structure, even to narrative style. Which explains the peculiarity of the language of the lecture — oracular in a Heraclitean way — full of repetitions, awkward syntax, odd juxtapositions of parts of speech, and purely melodic/sound oriented elements; these are manners of overcoming language itself, showing its own operations and dynamic as a way of reaching in the words of Deleuze and Guattari’s opening section of A Thousand Plateaus, “the Abstract Machine that connects a language to the semantic and pragmatic contents of statements, to collective assemblages of enunciation, to a whole micropolitics of the social field” (7).  Stein’s own Lecture on Nothing, “Composition as Explanation,” predating John Cage’s anti-lecture manifesto by thirty odd years, but clearly anticipating its aims and goals, renders the genre of lecture — with its stress on the coherence of exposition as a modus operandi and standard of evaluation — incoherent. The lecture becomes an auditory performance of a musical text, operating through syntactical distortions, repetitions, and resonances, to produce a meditation on the passage of time and its multiplication into parallel streams of continuity. Cage employs formal means of scripting his lecture that affect directly its rhythm and pulsation along with the voice necessary to release it from its print form. Even though non-lineated, Stein’s text yields itself to auditory readings in the same way, the durations and pulsations of her phrasing aimed at creating threads, clusters, and melodic chords of words.  67  “Composition as Explanation” shows that it is never the subject matter that is of relevance, but the manner, medium or form in which the subject and its matters are exposed, thought through, elucidated, constructed, composed. The composition is predominantly sound oriented, aural and auditory, though this dimension is not scripted anywhere on the page nor is it available in any other form than the multiple acts of reading, puzzling, stumbling, and flying through Stein’s texts as supplied by the reader.  1. 3. Radio Aurality: Voice Meditating Immediacy in Landscape Theatre Following Dydo’s suggestion to think of Stein’s approach to writing as a form of meditation, a line of thinking, I propose that Stein’s landscape as play, a movement of the ground along with its landmarks and people, is a form of meditative outrospection directed at the essence of landmarks and people as interconnecting lines of the system of relations; as such, landscape theatre points to the idea of composition as a musically meditated, auditory, living presence: a live geography. Landscape as something viewed from within, and not just viewed but also felt, sensed, heard, while being a part of it, immanently, in relation to its own movements and changes, is a compositional entity, and further, somewhat awkwardly, a case of meditating around the notion of structure and organizational principles guiding the processes of composition. (Inasmuch as meditating could be directed at a particular figuration.) This figuration of landscape in resonant relation to sound has direct implications for the question of voice in Stein, as voice is the main articulator and carrier of sound in Stein’s writing. Here I ask myself: What are the forms of voice in Stein, and where is the voice located? How many voices are there? (As in Stein’s chorus throughout Four Saints in Three Acts: “how many saints are there?”) The question of voice reappears as examined in connection with the question of self or subjectivity, particularly in the context of  68  divided/multiplied personalization of Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights. In its further extension, the question of voice is related to the problem of multitude or multiplicity in search of its vocalization and agency. And so on one hand, I ask: How does voice correspond to self? On the other, I ask: What kind of identity does the voice imply, represent, call for?   Clearly, landscape theatre and drama in Stein provide a fertile ground of investigations into the musicality and compositionality of voice. In contrast to her lecture on composition, and the essay on elucidation or even Tender Buttons, where the musicality and orality of the voice upsets ‘natural’ expectations of coherence in the poetic performance involving presumably a single voice, in landscape theatre the voice is distributed, decentered from a particular locus and logic of identity, splintered into a myriad of resonating voices and sounds; the voice rises in proportion to its own decentering and disembodying, in the manner of its own taking spectral forms. The multiplication of the voice is spectral in the sense of not being recorded or otherwise instructed through the text. No aural or sound clues are provided, and yet the text in its entirety seems nothing but the bubbling of sounds, a radio. This auditory nature of composition aimed at a larger auditory ecology of language-speech as sound has nothing to do with the visual appearance of text in print, as Stein does not experiment with typesetting. Rather, the auditory nature of composition is composed as a modality of reading, a dramatic reading one could be inclined to call it, which the text projects, calling for multiple voices, timbres, intonations, and pitches to sound out the text, to render it a musical event involving a group of voices as instruments, in the way of radio and cinema. Landscape theatre, though offering texts of plays otherwise not intended for performance and so apparently ensconced in their textuality, is the least visually oriented form of textuality, calling for a musical rendering, immersed in and celebrating the sounds of  69  language, the sounds of text. Following Sarah Wilson’s radio readings of Stein, Johanna Frank’s excellent essay on landscape theatre and, and drawing on McLuhan’s insights into the medium of radio, I want to show how through her constant attention to the auditory voice in her writing, Stein embeds in her texts music, sound, and orality reminiscent of the radio, and in some ways anticipating its future developments.  In her “Gertrude Stein and the Radio,” Wilson argues that Stein’s fascination with broadcasting ties in with her ongoing preoccupation with “the feeling of everybody,” more specifically with the feeling of everybody listening; she says that for Stein, “radio creates the everybody by creating the audience... The radio broadcast conveys a sense of an immediate and concentrated present; it begins again and again, as Stein’s characteristically insisted phrasings indicate to us [offering] a distinct kind of knowledge, knowing ‘by what you felt.’ That is, the appeal of the radio is not exclusively informational, but it stands intellectually, just as it does physically, into more intimate and emotional territory” (263)  As a figuration, an interpretive frame, radio amplifies the auditory dimension of Stein’s writing, its participatory character calling for multiple voices (“participatory radio ... recouples emotional and intellectual engagement just as Stein’s writing does” (265)) and resisting realistic reading (267). “[T]he formal and representational possibilities of radio arose from the fact that the medium was less tethered to straightforward realism (and thus possibly more open to alternate ‘realities’) than were other popular media” (268). Stein’s commitment to the multiple and the figurative likewise finds the aurality of radio as fertile ground of experimentation with texts and forms of knowing that actively resist theorization. In her radio reading of Stein, Wilson proposes that at the outset of Stein’s wrestling with the radio is the idea of voice not as a site of fixed agency, not a particular person, but a  70  musical vocalization, a melodic peopling, a ‘soundscape’ and, by extension, a nation. Wilson’s article shows the subtlety of Stein’s position on the radio as a medium of the formation of national identity: not taking the relationship between radio and nation naively, yet emphasizing how Stein’s improvisational radio and performances inspired improvisational communities to come into being through the force of radio. Wilson’s concluding point that Stein’s work in the 1930s and 40s employed radio as a form, through this medium enabling her to explore different identities, changing subject positions, and multiple voices, takes us on a trajectory to McLuhan’s image of radio as a medium that obsolesces print, replacing its visual orientation with the auditory soundness of non-locatable words.  For McLuhan in Understanding Media, radio breaks away from the visual domination of print, which historically aligns print-oriented literacy with the mechanical industrialization and fragmentation of modern ‘man.’ Radio, however, involves people differently: directly. “Radio provided the first massive experience of electronic implosion - that reversal of the entire direction and meaning of literate Western civilization” (332). And a few pages further, McLuhan adds: “The power of radio to retribalize mankind, its almost instant reversal of individualism into collectivism” (337). Let us stress that unlike in print, which preserves speech in its timeless exactitude, nothing is preserved or archived in the radio, nothing recorded; the radio enacts the flow of discourse, the spreading of discourse as a resonant presence of the language and world one is immersed in, a distribution of currencies, the always changing weather and traffic reports demanding constant updates being the essence of radio: its liveness. Radio captures and broadcasts back to the reflecting collective ear the constant flow of the social real, its propagation and spreading in the form of radio waves, which in their operations mimic the light, teasing the listener/auditor with the potential of  71  instantaneity, of the present moment and presence stretching in time, of the duration within the present moment, momentous and eternal at once. It’s no accident that most intense experiences of listening to the radio tend to occur late at night and in the early morning hours when everything else freezes, when social life with its constant prattle is at a standstill and the self is exposed in its nakedness to the cosmos. Cosmos indeed, and no less, as an expression of existence in its essential abstract form of the self intensified to the polyrhythmia of the body against the vast open space out there, untethered from the world, deeply aware of that predicament, caught in the moment of deep awareness of that very untetheredness: the moment of its existential loneliness.  Radio propagates the subatomic, catching the human ear with the fragmented trembling of particles issuing from that transistor box placed next to the ear, which replaces human contact, dazzling one with the virtual presence of the social, the virtual speech. For McLuhan, the analytic and fragmenting qualities of print with its emphasis on discreet digits, sequences, letters in print, and the myopic line blindingly and obediently tracing their curvatures and capitalizations, all are relieved by the ear in the radio with its uncentered, decentered close listening, catching the murmur of the world before it gets attached to a particular set of lips, in the state of material distribution, as a shimmer of signifiers and particles of air displaced by the movement of excited molecules of sound. The radio exposes one to the cosmos and in that exposure tethers one back to the earth and its communications.  In his Divine Comedy, Dante, writing about his descent to hell, envisages for the reader the radio experience:  Here sighs and lamentations and loud cries were echoing across the starless air,  72  so that soon as I set out, I wept. Strange utterances, horrible pronouncements, accents of anger, words of suffering, and voices shrill and faint, and beating hands— all went to make a tumult that will whirl forever through the turbid, timeless air, like sand that eddies when a whirlwind swirls. (21) Two corresponding elements in this description are in the poet’s view constitutive of hell. On one hand, there is the whirling “tumult,” signifying the cacophony of voices coming from all possible directions at once, without any order or hierarchy, all equally important, depersonalized, and strange. Speech, which elevates the human above the animal, here turns into noise, the noise of the marketplace where everything happens at once and no meaningful conversation can take place, as likely inspired this representation. In a way, it’s the materiality of the voice that appears to be hellish, the voice reduced to the swirling molecules of air, no longer attached to the mind and reason, the mind’s eye with its neat organization of ideas, embodied in the Renaissance perspective. On the other hand, not immediately apparent, there is a worse terror, and for a Christian the absolute terror, of being trapped forever on the earth, buried in the hellish bowels of it. Even more than the cacophony of voices, what terrorizes the poet is the claustrophobic immanence of “starless air” and “timeless air,” signifying the impossibility of ascent to heaven as the ultimate penalty, which nonetheless fascinates him, inspiring these amazing lines. Like Milton some four hundred years later, Dante’s most convincing lines and most interesting characters, including the guiding mind of Virgil, are devoted to hell.      73  Even the Talking Heads know that “heaven/heaven is a place/place where nothing/nothing ever happens,” but hell is exceedingly entertaining. What makes hell entertaining is its social, multiplicitous, interactive, interpersonal nature, and insofar as the persons occupying this dimension take on beastly forms or behave in beastly ways, the interpersonal transcends the human, marking the horizon of the depersonalized individual of the post-human kind. The eventness of the radio, its momentous particularity, what Deleuze and Guattari call haecceity, consists in the coming together of self and not just others, but everybody: the multiplicity of particulars in the plural, dazzling the self exposed to its existential loneliness by the very opposite of that predicament, a society or nation as a radical expression/articulation of deindividuation, the impossibility of the self. Radio is the first venture into the articulation of that sense of fragmented multiplied self; for a medium, radio captures the nature of speech; it extends the medium of speech across space.   In calling Stein’s landscape plays radio plays, one does not take radio as referring to actual radio playability but a description of spectrality or virtuality of sorts, as a text emulating radio, indeed anticipating it, a radio-text. An aural geography and a moving geography, as in film, which also, as Stein herself acknowledges, influenced her writing, radio is a guiding medium to take us through the question of aurality in Stein’s landscape theatre. In her essay “Plays,” Stein explains the process of becoming interested in landscape: I lived in a landscape that made itself its own landscape. I slowly came to feel that since the landscape was the thing, I had tried to write it down in Lucy Church Amiably and I did but I wanted it even more really, in short I found that since the landscape was the thing, a play was a thing (77).  74  Here, her experience of landscape is related to her practice of playful writing, to the ideas of organization and structure of text in ways resonating with geography as a system, an organization of lines and points, a distribution of differences, the spreading difference of voices. Through the blurring of difference between abstract and concrete vocalizations, the relationship between form and content, influenced by the turning upside down and sideways of the notion of figure and ground in visual art, Stein’s landscape theatre takes the reader into the geography of landscape in relation to the form and texture of a literary (dramatic) work. As Stein explains: The landscape has its formation and as after all a play has to have formation and be in relation one thing to the other thing and as the story is not the thing as any one is always telling something then the landscape not moving but being always in relation, the trees to the hills the hills to the fields the trees to each other any piece of it to any sky and then any detail to any other detail, the story is only of importance if you like to tell or like to hear a story but the relation is there anyway (78), opting for a writing with a voice stripped of its history, with the immediacy of sound coming through obvious melodies and melodic patterns of repetition that constantly give relations of one thing to the other thing as they sit or they stand, as a field of relations, rather than coherent stories and linear plot lines. In her theatre she offers the reader auditory performances that fire up perceptions and understandings of multiple sets of elements at work as forces of a dramatic staging of words and sounds. The multiple sounds of this radio resonate emerging in fragmented, resonating, and playful ways.  Treating Stein’s landscape plays as a drama of perception and proprioception presents an opportunity to consider the observation/meditation model of writing as situated in a  75  peculiar social geography, filtered through the movement of possible personalization, the rise and fall of emotions, and the transfusional immediacy/immanence of the always shifting presence characterizing Stein’s theatrical experience/practice. This aspect of writing, inspired by William James’s empiricism of perception, explains Stein’s paratactic strategies of the musical voice speaking through the script and turning to the image of cubist figuration as a model of a multi-perspectival, multi-dimensional system of observing/recording/inventing. Through the essence of what happened as an organizational and epistemic platform for the plays, Stein invites us to inquire about the location and locatability of text in relation to its voices, proposing the topos of language-text, its social space and voices, as materially interrelated, and further, a reconfiguration of the self and the identity paradigm Stein further explores in Everybody’s Autobiography and The Geographical History of America. By experimenting with the compositional field, Stein’s landscape plays/writings project a dimension of writing characterized by a blending of script with sound and with oralities that do away with the concept of a stable self, and explores the possibility of the public, mass, collective, and assembly. This sound-orientation of writing gesturing in the direction of the multiple self of postmodernity forges a writing uncontained, freed from grammatical constraints, open to experiment and, in the words of one of John Cage’s manifestos, “The Future of Music: Credo,” open to “the entire field of sound” (4), to the richness of the composing, meditating sound-voice. The multiple self of resonating bodies suspended in the vocalization of a possible persona comes to the fore in Johanna Frank’s article on Stein’s landscape theatre, “Resonating Bodies and the Poetics of Aurality; Or, Gertrude Stein’s Theatre.” At the beginning of the article, Frank stresses the connection between portraits and plays. Both are a form of dramatic  76  writing using “visual and aural registers” (501) to capture an individual or character as mental images resulting from “linguistic or performative presentation” (501). Yet the character as subject of both plays and portraits, Frank argues, “cannot reside merely in a presentation reflective of mental images elicited in the narrator as speaker or authorial voice” (501) insofar as a dramatic representation relies on a vocalization of two kinds, “the bodies uttering sounds to perform voice...and the bodies of auditors receiving the sounds of that voice” (502). At stake in Stein’s dramatic writing then is a question of the embodiment of physically absent bodies, a spectral kind of embodiment. In Frank’s view, Stein’s plays aim at “redefin[ing] the relationship among audience expectation of embodiment, corporeal resonance, and the stage” (502). This eagerness to redefine the dynamic of dramatic work makes her plays unique, in particular with regard to the concept of identity as constituted by a series of “word sounds” not easily locatable and “elid[ing] referential signification” (504). Stein’s dramatic writing, Frank argues, enables her “to separate language from bodies, speech from language and voice from speech and make them all ephemeral” (504). Her theater of sounds engages equally the speaking bodies and/or the virtual speech in writing and the bodies of readers receiving sounds, in both cases the language of sounds transcending the lexical meaning and the actual body and their limitations (505). In that connection, Frank evokes Barthes’s concept of geno-song, a seducer-siren tempting the reader with its jouissance of language inviting one into its sing-song.  As Frank demonstrates, Stein’s venture into geno-song and radio sounds date back to her experiments with sonic portraiture. Inspired by visual arts and the challenges of representation, Stein ‘draws’ her own pictures, sonic portraiture of friends that catches the essence of the person, their nature, rather than the mimetic likeness. The sonic portraiture of  77  Stein brings to mind the Deleuzoguattarian distinction between tracing and mapping. The essence of a thing or person is not immediately given; it’s not contained in a series of lines and shading; nor is it reducible to a technique of drawing or writing. While the likeness is contained in the lines, and directly paraphrasable or translatable into a different set of lines and dots, the essence lies somewhere between the lines, and has often to do with a more holistic ‘representation’ of a person than their visual image or likeness, a melodic refrain or riff; it’s cinematic and auditory, in the sense of combining in its picturing sound, words, syntax/grammar, images, movement, time, framing, as well as the vocalizations and personalizations into a particular character or set of characters/voices, a set of situations. The melodic intonational and otherwise aural aspects of persons and things emerge from Stein’s sonic portraiture through the style of discourse as personality. Stein’s sonic portraits, including portraits of objects in Tender Buttons, are paradigmatic experiments in constructing her audio-vision of landscape theatre. They are essentially auditory sonic portraiture, descriptive in the manner of Picasso and Braque’s cubist experiments, multi-sensorial ways — waves — of hearing sound. Their goal is not to describe what somebody looks like or how they behave, but to capture the essence of their personality. Her portraits are not descriptive but projective. They refuse to observe a person from a defined vantage point, stretching the moment of time that allowed this set of impressions to create a continuous auditory presence, a series of intersubjective approximations of what happened.   “If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso” famously exemplifies the idea of sonic portraiture, not by accident chosen by Stein herself to be recorded and remaining one of the few extant audio recordings of her works in her own voice. The portrait begins with a  78  conditional clause disintegrating into a fragmented “if Napoleon if I told him if I told him if Napoleon” (230), grammar too gradually deconstructed into a musical phrase, “If I told him would he like it” repeated and inverted musically. As we know, the voice in the poem, presumably of Stein herself, considers whether or not to object to Picasso with regard to his frequent changes of lovers. Slowly, the problem question becomes clear with “would he like it if I told him” though only after six or seven lines of fragmented text. The voice mimicking a searching thought mulls over the problem without having to articulate it fully. Repetitions at the opening provide the space for thought to articulate itself, emerging from the sounds and noise of its own workings. Stein reveals the operations of thought as operations of resonances and musical phrasing/rhythm rather than through a semantic/syntactic apparatus of meaning, implying that the meaning is a sound concept in the sense of auditory sound, however textual and imaginary that sound may be in the context of text. The syntax of thought may resemble at times the grammar of language, but on the whole, as Stein seems to be demonstrating, it is free from the constraints and the bias of print. Tender Buttons inaugurates Stein’s experimental phase of writing, lasting with different intensities till the end of her life. Questions regarding identity as well as the nature of experience and composition remain at the centre of her philosophical preoccupations throughout these works, but in addition there emerges a problematic of expression and articulation, taking the form of a shift of attention toward language, its syntax and semantics, and by extension voice, medium, and figuration, in turn focusing on the epistemic of the auditory as a language/landscape complex. This shift of attention concerning spatial relationships and the question of place produces a series of playfully experimental texts  79  known as landscape plays, yet with the idea of landscape reshaped through a system of writing as a syntactical-semantic complex of Tender Buttons.  Stein’s landscape plays extend the experiment initiated in Tender Buttons, of enacting through paratactic strategies the indeterminate spaces that aim at recording and processing multiple versions of experience, and, in the spirit of the radical empiricism of William James, allow everything to come within a perceiving scheme. Writing plays enables Stein to further work against the unified perspective and single vision of a fixed point of view toward a multiplicity of cubist figuration, a multiplicity that operates as an interplay of planes and a dramatic conflict of patterns and textures, and requires a total awareness and involvement of viewers (McLuhan 13).  In Stein’s landscape writing, comprising particularly the plays of the late 1910s and 20s, the aim often is to attain some form of unity, as a projection or feeling of an integrated whole with all individual parts dynamically interrelated (DeKoven 223), a totality which nonetheless remains open-ended and teeming with possibilities. Another feature of landscape writing according to DeKoven is a certain harmony between organizational and thematic considerations, such that the structure of a play corresponds to its thematic centre, as if both were equally capable of expressing the same vision, perhaps as if the vision needed to be articulated in this twofold way. In DeKoven’s view this is part of Stein’s feminist critique of major philosophical tropes, notably a critique of the dualism between mind and body, yielding to what she calls “a female vision” that brings the two together into “a polymorphous continuity” (224).  Landscape plays capture the image-event of a particulate moment; they are a sound-image imprint, as if paper were a sufficient medium for the recording of sound, revealing the  80  inherent soundness of words. For example, consider a chance line in the third Act One, Scene 2 of Paisieu, a line appearing in a long sequence of unrelated lines reading as if separate sounds and chords in a John Cage composition: “Having seen. Having seen. Having not scented seen” (157). The repetition of “having seen” in the second instant of it is no repetition but a change, a slight increase in “having seen,” if one can put it that way, caused by what Stein would insist is insistence. About repetition, she says in “Portraits and Repetition”: what one repeats is the scene in which one is acting, the days in which one is living, the coming and going which one is doing, anything one is remembering is a repetition, but existing as a human being, that is being listening and hearing is never repetition. (107) The visual reading of the line “Having seen. Having seen” (but is there a line to begin with? And who says there is?), what is called silent reading, may or may not be sufficiently attentive to the change, but it’s likely to be inattentive, for the visual bias more naturally opposes redundancies.  The redundancy contained in the repetition of line is no redundancy but insistence;  Scott Pound identifies it as intonation. Redundancy and/or repetition appear in relation to media; they are part of or are emerging from. In print, the repetition is more redundant than in speech. A discreet bit of information is taken in by the eye and is digested in the mind, where it is multiplied, sorted out, associated with, and contrasted to other bits of information, and so on; such is the process of the mind processing information. The mind-eye, then, has no need to take in redundant pieces of information for it manipulates information in its own way anyway. The ear has no such bias. Quite the contrary, the ear delights in repetitions and redundancies. They are the markers of the resonant outside out there with no particular  81  direction or perspective, landmarks of what otherwise is no space or landscape but becomes one in the process of making sense, which to an extent is the process of translation, transposition, of aural into spatial perceptions. Repetition as well as other sound devices is how navigation through listening is done, as an echolocation, by sending out and receiving a series of ‘repeated’ signals, which gradually, by processing durations, timing, and the strength of the signal, its rhythm and rhyme, constructs a sense of depth, distance, and direction.  Researchers in sound studies claim that no sound can be repeated by a human the same way twice, not even the pronunciation of one’s own name (Waldrop 60). From the sound reading ‘point of view,’ the repetition of the line is not, and cannot be, a repetition. The voice of the reader left to its own devices will echolocate through the text by the use of pitches, durations, inflections, timbres, tempo, attacks, by increasing/decreasing, shortening and elongating the phrase, by employing what a musician would call phrasing. (Phrasing in music is a skill that requires a fair amount of practice. A non-skilled or poorly skilled performer will first and foremost want to play the notes accurately, nose and eyes glued to the page: “Having seen. Having seen.” They will delight in the fact that the ‘chords’ repeat, that the piece is simple to play, for they can’t get them quite right anyway, so the opportunity to play them twice is always welcome. But they will be likewise annoyed by the repetition, thinking the piece is not moving forward sufficiently or that they, as performers, aren’t playing interesting enough material, just the same thing twice.)  Multiple possibilities are associated with a circularity of thought. However, in the ‘line-not line’ from Stein quoted above, there are multiple interpretive possibilities that have nothing to do with circularity, but are the result of rendering the line spatially-acoustic where a series of juxtapositions can be observed and contemplated. For example, the increase of  82  “having seen” may be heard as further increased or resolved with “having not.” The juxtaposition of the first and second “seen” with “scent” is based on an odd similarity between the sounds of “seen” and “scent.” Seen and scent bring to mind a sensorial confusion of synaesthesia, melodiously navigating sight and smell, but they also invent an imaginary, twisted grammar where “scent” may be heard as the past participle form of the verb “seen,” if there were such a verb, the way the present form of ‘mean’ migrates to ‘meant.’ A melodic reading, a reading with at least an imaginary keyboard at hand and/or in mind, is almost a must if one wants to make any sense of the line. Having seen this line with just the eye of silent reading, the reader remains in the proverbial dark as to the sense and place of the line.   Similarly in Paisieu we could single out the line: “A do be a do be a do be a do be a do be at at all” (156) as an example of a purely sound intervention into the flow of “action,” the plotting zone where words project things and drama. The combination of “do” and “be” is clearly melodic, mimicking jazz singing, specifically scat, more correctly anticipating scat. Stein, who in her essay “Lectures and Repetition” mentions being influenced by jazz and cinema, is doing her be-bop swing, splicing two notoriously overdone verbs, so worn out nobody cares, and creating a peculiar noun phrase, a make-shift house, adobe house, to house the sound of words, the sound of the line. She’s at it, “at at,” caught singing in the text but then really not at all, for the text-line equally expresses a doubt, a vacillation between doing and being that activates the thought on the page through the oscillation between the active and inactive “do” and “be,” a “be” unresolved through the addition of “a”, dwindling at the end of the “a do be,” which to many an ear may sound like a ‘do re mi.’ A silent eye is stuck in the phrase too dizzying to read through coherently, but the phrase erases itself from the page into a voice afar as soon as the eye gives up its analytic cogitations. These are random examples of  83  Stein’s turning to a melodic turn of phrase to disrupt the pattern of common sense expectations presumed by the reader. Stein’s landscape writing aims at creating all-inclusive spaces of immanence: auditory, audible, involving all sense perceptions. In that regard, Stein responds to the problem inherent to theatre as a type of both figuration (the spectacle) and mediation (transfer of information), the problem characterized as a state of being inherently out of joint, to borrow from Hamlet — Stein herself borrows and deliberately misquotes Hamlet in her lecture “Plays” — as a rift between the time of one’s emotion and the scene represented (59-60). The curtain as an important prop and trope of theatre already symbolizes for Stein the rampant fragmentation at the core of dramatic performance and drama in general, resulting in the separation and specialization of the spatial, temporal, affective, conceptual, and narrative threads, like in an assembly line.  In the first place at the theatre there is the curtain and the curtain already makes one feel that one is not going to have the same tempo as the thing that is there behind the curtain. The emotion of you on one side of the curtain and what is on the other side are not going to be going on together. One will always be behind or in front of the other. (60) “To Stein,” Dydo reminds us in her The Language That Rises, “the trouble with plays is that they are apprehended piecemeal, in successive scenes, acts, moments, sections... At no time is there total dramatic presence and intensity” (265). In contrast, landscape is a kind of presence to itself, something that can be entered and manipulated yet doesn’t exist in a fixed relation to the viewer or spectator. Consider the following passage/scene of A List:  84  MARTHA: If four are sitting at a table and one of them is lying upon it it does not make any difference. If bread and pomegranates are on a table and four are sitting at the table and one of them is leaning upon it it does not make any difference. MARTHA: It does not make any difference if four are sitting at a table and one is leaning upon it. MARYAS: If five are sitting at a table and there is bread on it and there are pomegranates on it and one of the five is leaning on the table it does not make any difference. (246) This all-at-once simultaneity is obvious in the description of the scene at the table with Martha and Maryas and in how Stein wants to describe at once both the busyness and the placidity of the nuns.  It is no accident that Stein’s early plays are written without regard for possible staging though not precluding it in any way; written away from the city, they take the countryside as an extraordinary model of complex dramas going on at all times, a model of an all-at-once wholeness that captures the essence of theatre as oriented around drama (movement, dramatic action) rather than articulating any specific content or story: “in my early plays I tried to tell what happened without telling stories so that the essence of what happened would be like the essence of the portraits, what made what happened be what it was” (75).  By claiming that the essence of what happened is the initial goal of her theatre, Stein shifts attention from dramatic happenings represented and reenacted in a standardized, sequenced form of dramatic writing, as stories, toward poetic syntheses and intensifications of social interpersonal events and occurrences as experienced during her perambulations through the French countryside. Landscape plays as analogous to portraits in the same way a painter may arbitrarily direct their attention towards a person, object or a system of lines and markers,  85  a certain geography — be that of land, still life, or human face. They are not ocular but oral. They break away from realistic representation; they are cubist narratives, dialogic-dramatic, using a series of shifting perspectives. One could say they are intensely subjective except there is no singular subject that views, feels, knows, acts, and senses the surrounding environment in a consistent manner, only a momentary authorial creation evacuated from it, which operates through a resonant multiplication of personas, a scriptural swarm of narrative I’s dancing and singing at shifting distances from the author herself. As a landscape, a slice or scape of life, a play would no longer distinguish between the emotion of the person looking and of the action of the play itself; both would happen simultaneously, in direct textual relation to one another, along the same dramatic axis constituted by the movement of the text itself. Landscape is a metaphor rife with possibilities, visionary and utopian; as a utopian projection, it consists in returning to the topos, to place and site and a sheet of paper, their internal dynamic and harmony, their movement and stasis, a composition based on a formation and “a relation one thing to the other thing and as the story is not the thing as any one is always telling something then the landscape not moving but being always in relation, the trees to the hills the hills to the fields the trees to each other any piece of it to any sky and then any detail to any other detail, the story is only of importance if you like to tell or like to hear a story but the relation is there anyway” (78).  Dydo’s chapter 5 of Gertrude Stein: The Language That Rises, in a section titled “The Grammar of Landscape,” takes up Paisieu, “a play that aspires to the condition of landscape” (265), as representative of the striving toward capturing both the materiality as well as the abstract figuration of drama, a synthesis Stein herself refers to as an essence. Paisieu defies our expectations already in the subtitle, “A Work of Pure Imagination in Which No  86  Reminiscences Intrude,” which robs it of characters, dialogues and action, leaving on some projected imaginary stage only mediational procedures and confusing frames that hold it abstractly together. A work of pure imagination aims at nothing in particular but pure forms of imagining, and yet pure forms, necessary as they may be as conditions that situate a thing in a logical or conceptual framework, are not something that can be properly encountered; especially not where in place of characters, settings, plot development, dialogues and conflicts, there is just the place itself, a no particular place but a placeness, a framing device and nothing else. Stein’s contention is to build a model for a play, to conceive of a pure dramatic action, and in order to arrive there to make the reader think not of action, not of what transpires on the stage, not even of the stage itself, but of something like the conditions of staging, in some sense, the conditions of playability of a page of writing. At play is a conceptual framework involving and implicating the audience, which is what produces the landscape effect. For landscape is not only the manner of organization on the page of textual matter but also a way of reading and assembling the text of the play. Landscape is also a type of thinking for the audience and reader, his or her way of constructing a ‘plane of immanence’, a moment of a continuous now, for landscape embodies immanence and continuity, symbolizing the becoming of a permanent present continuous. Such a landscape as an immediate perceptual given is auditory in the way defined in the introductory section, as a multi-media polyvocality of sense perceptions copresent. Landscape as a scene/seen implied in the bringing together of the dramatic-action-stage scene with the experienced/perceived seen, as immediacy, a moment/slice of time in its pure happening, represents an event, a happening on the way somewhere, an action itself.  87  In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant asks himself a question: What is still left in imagination after all empirical content is taken out of it? There are categories, for instance causal relationships, but they too depend on the materials related. And then there are the pure forms of perception, pure forms of sensibility as Kant terms them, time and space, which are the absolute conditions of any object to appear within any perception. Hence there’s a certain positionality, a frame that situates all perception, and this is ultimately how perception and imagination work. The subtitle of Paisieu signals not only a certain impossibility of the play itself — for instance, the impossibility of staging it in an actual theatre — but also as a methodology of reading and making sense of it. That “no reminiscences intrude” suggests a type of possible world without time as a reliable marker of its unfolding, where there is no place for time or memories. As Dydo puts it, the subtitle offers us to think of the play as “a work freed from time, reference, representation. Reminiscences have to do with histories and identities outside the playscape before us that names alone do not have, and memory is about the logic of developing plots, which Stein shuns” (276). In a move toward a total theatre, Stein constructs a playscape of synchronous time, of multiple occurrences happening simultaneously and flattened onto a surface, forming a system of spatial relationships. The total theatre of Paisieu is like the composition described in “Composition as Explanation,” an immanent thing that grows from within itself without one centre of coherence or point of view, through multiple points, as seen from all angles at once as a system of relations of seeing-living-presence, relations of auditory copresence:  The composition is the thing seen by everyone living in the living that they are doing, they are the composing of the composition that at the time they are living is the composition of the time in which they are living. (24)  88  Stein’s plays are not abstractions, and the conceptual and/or the imaginary content of the mind as evoked through Kant are merely attempts to articulate the possibility of thought and extension, the mind and the body, returning to their ‘natural’ state, blending together, becoming the continuous flow of the actual verifying at any moment an experience. At the heart of Stein’s auditory vision of the theatre lies the question of “the continuity of human intellect and spirit with the natural world” (DeKoven 229). What makes it a feminist vision, according to DeKoven, is the affirmation of the union of the human and the physical, the coming together of the body and the mind, of the immanent and the transcendent, their triumph over the tragic sense of separation, fragmentation, and the single, analytic vision that separates. For Stein, plays are arenas, sites or locales where she can experiment with and extend the boundaries of language toward tactile melodic vocalizations, inviting the reader to engage in an interplay of linguistic possibilities whose meaning, as DeKoven argues, has to be often supplied by the reader (232).  The task of writing a play is a complex one, since it already must think of the theatre as an alternative kind of space, a different set of relationships that require a radical reconfiguration of all the senses and their involvement in perception. As Dydo reminds us in her commentary on Paisieu, Stein’s landscape is not an actual place one can visit; its characters — if this is how we can think of names woven into the text — are not people one can encounter. Here life and place interpenetrate, forming a kind of self-contained environment, self-contained precisely in the sense of having no clear boundaries. Occurrences, events, bits of dialogue and stage directions are all mixed, producing an assemblage, a theatrical machine where “everything was actual and I went on writing” (82). “All these compose the play as they compose the landscape, always there and always  89  changing, filled with sounds and sights that make everyday life go on” (Dydo 271). The materiality of theatre and of landscape and life meet on a projected stage, somewhere in space, perhaps at every point of the space already constituted as a system of relations, in the continuous enfolding of the actual.  In her essay on theatre Stein emphasizes the confusion between the play as text — the knowledge or understanding of it — and the play as theatrical experience — the sight and sound actuality. The confusion stems not from the actual gap between the two; after all, reality has many dimensions; but rather from the spectator’s conscious dwelling on the gap, his/her attempts to remove it, his/her attempts to control the flow of time, to give it a transcendent presence in the form of a timeless understanding of what’s going on. In effect, a real time witnessing refuses to witness, afraid to lose itself in the play of presences, and demands its rational other, removed from the perceptual experience into a cognitive distance of thought. Here Stein anticipates the problematic of improvisation as real time composition, specifically the tension between compositional control and actual participation in performance, suggesting that the ‘error’ of a spectator in theatre consists in usurping this compositional control over the spectacle and refusing to enjoy fully the confusion of senses at work in witnessing the play.    The 1918 play, An Exercise in Analysis, in an exemplary fashion and with great performative gusto takes up the notion of the structure of drama by playing around its divisions into acts and parts, multiplying them beyond count. The play likewise engages head-on the playful confusion of senses, affects, and rationalization characteristic of radio or cinema. In the way the play elicits some form of interpretation, it dazzles the reader with a plethora of interpretive possibilities, as the play is replete with possible signifiers. One notable  90  characteristic in line with the model of analysis explicated in the title is its division into acts and parts that constitute its important constant, the grid of lines with all manners of colors, chords, vocalizations, amplifications, silent text, and other sounds. The structural appearance of the play seems to match and explain its title, at least if we consider that the concept of analysis implies divisibility into the minutest smallest parts. The relative simplicity at the level of structure may seem promising; one feels that the essence of the play lies in its patterning, in the dynamic relationships amongst the sections/slices of dramatic life, that one could comprehend the play without reading. These are indeed the hopes of an analyst, dreaming of transparencies and clarity. But the repetition in the structure, at times highly patterned and at others disruptive and incoherent, is likewise refraining musically, forming refrains and musical phrases that sustain the play through its tribal drumming as it were. The visual rhythm of visual interventions in the form of parts and acts mercilessly listed line after line are like the bars of music that the play is about, a piece of jazz music with a constantly shifting time signature and an undetermined number of instruments/voices. And so, inserted within that grid of acts and parts there is the distributive, active, aural element in the form of a whole reverberating multiplicity, emergent subjectivization, collective formations, disembodied affects, embodied depersonalization, and thought; a system of constant relations of difference between heterogeneous parts/particles at play, glued together to form a radio collage of voices suspended within some kind of extension-space of the page, recording studio, and/or magnetic tape akin to Frank Zappa’s Lumpy Gravy.   An Exercise in Analysis at first comes to the reader entirely as text, more specifically as seemingly random fragmentation of some text, no longer or not yet accessible. Each strip or statement comes alive for a brief moment, bringing about various possibilities of action in  91  the form of monologue, dialogue, stream of consciousness, description, stage directions, reflections, proverbs, sayings, thoughts, and conflicts; none of the lines, however, proceed to anything beyond a possibility, a virtuality. Though there are continuities and sequences, as in the opening frame announcing in the first person the giving up of analysis, adding one line further “I have paid my debt to society” (119), nothing prevents the reader from imagining a different personalization emerging even from the opening three lines of this possible dialogue, though likely a dialogue taken apart to be analyzed one line at a time, one by one as in analysis. The first person statement in the opening frame and the first person of the third line may be the same or may very well represent different voices of a group now emerging as parts of an exercise in analysis. The play as text transposes into a different register, that of sound, of spoken word fragments voiding text, but constantly teasing the reader with hermeneutics, appearing like a charade or mind game to be figured out, taken apart in analysis to arrive at its message or meaning, the meta meaning of the mere appearances of text-events on a page.  Though a number of characters are mentioned, periodically suggesting sustained relationships and conflicts, there is not enough continuity between the segments of the play fragmented to the point where the logic must necessarily collapse under the weight of multiple resonant and discordant possibilities, forming a series of postcards or vignettes where language is pictured in aural resonant representations. The cinematic element of montage, transposed outside theatre with its clumsy division into stage and audience, becomes a synthetic-synaesthetic oneness, more specifically a synthetic-synaesthetic arrangement or clustering not preventing further multiplications, of sounds and images coinciding.  What emerges through the print-reading of the play, if I may put it this way, is a serialization on two simultaneous planes, as a system toward the pointing of acts and parts at  92  times manifesting a crystalline precision in patterning, at other times fracturing into shattered glass-like splinters and noise; but the continuous staccato of the conceptual framing of acts and parts reemerging is what releases the unique individuality, albeit at times purely absurd, of each splinter, amplifying its voice, its possible vocalization as in a megaphonic reading-broadcasting that accords each line the dimension of a media message. Serialization likewise emerges at the level of dramatic action, as strips of action-drama appearing in this sound collage of possible personas, possible personalization. Who’s the first person voice in the opening frame, actually outside the grid of acts and parts, framing as it were the entire exercise? Is it the authorial voice proclaiming an analysis exercise in giving up analysis? Who are Mrs. Turner and the mother arrested for a moment in the discussion of duty and its divisions? Who is he who doesn’t like the poor in Barcelona, forming a club of “they” who don’t either and dissolving into a she emerging in the next line/section watching men swim? What’s at play is a fluid musical shifting between instrument-vocalizations, the emergence, the thisness and singularity, as analytic principles performatively enacted, dissected on the operating table of the playwight.  “Examples and examples. All examples of children. Now to ask guns. Now to ask colors” (121): the play is predicated upon the possibility and practice of a slicing up of life across all spectra into thin strips of magnetic tape for a composition by John Cage, montaging these slices randomly and through other procedures, of authorship, emotion, fleeting voice, fleeting cloud, a random sound. The principle of analysis, of taking apart to examine how the parts fit together, is at play, performatively applied as a model of performing and reading, as a method of composing from parts, composing the parts, composing apart.   93  “I want to know something and Miss Douglass won’t tell me” (121): the exercise is an exercise in piecing together, discerning and arranging patterns of repetition, intonation, vocalization, aural clues. Lines like “Now I understand” (121) emerge as momentary coherizations within the movement and flux of sounds, naturally emerging through the chaos of daily contact, toying with the mood of reading, testing the reader’s capacity to immerse themself in the joy of words, sounds, speech. There is a radio-cinematic feel throughout the lines stupidly printed yet emerging resonantly into the sound and action of a cinematic kind where a simultaneous personalization, the calculus of minute similarities and differences amongst visual psychological voids greeting the viewer from the screen is here a constant possibility of movement of the image, the image still remaining the building block of cinematic representation. At times the cinematic moments coalesce into crystalline movement-representation, expressing a momentary continuity. The closing lines of “call me”  and “call me Ellen”  return to the opening “I”, returning the reader to the problem of the noun, word, the signifier.   “What we hear in the meditations is the process of consciousness constructing speech” (Dydo 44). Not to confuse it with the person or indeed personal pronoun. Pronouns proliferate giving rise to seemingly stable, functional subject positions as in An Exercise in Analysis that stages a plethora of possible persons, a crowd of virtual selves as virtual voicings. The consciousness constructed by virtue of words and perceiving in/through words is not equivalent (does not amount to) a functional social being but is a virtual subject position capable of expressing such a social subject, a subject to come. The virtual here indexes a capacity of being constructed. The virtual is not a projection of the real, corresponding to it along specific lines, but a different dimension. We know that in some way that  real people  94  compose Stein’s actual plays, at times amounting to a couple of lines reporting a snippet of a conversation; offering ‘imagist’ snapshots of situations, events and collisions happening in real time, but the ultimate and actually aesthetic purpose of the plays is not to represent but to construct a narrative/play/landscape reality of its own from certain human materials, human understood in a broad sense to comprise emotions, positions, relationships, speech acts, uncertainties, speculations, innuendos and allusions, attributes not organized into any particular logic or system, but surfacing rather haphazardly. This aleatory surfacing in response to affective clues from the auditory/visual shifting environment is what makes Stein’s plays virtual rather than realist. The subjects make their way into Stein’s plays as virtuals. Dydo calls them “abstractions divested of identifiable personal reference” (44).  This lack of personal sentimentalism suggests that personal identity is of little importance to Stein; something else, however, remains constantly at stake which even certain titles of Stein’s works capture explicitly: The Making of Americans and Everybody’s Autobiography. What remains at stake is a collective in its various guises. Dydo’s analysis focuses on Stanzas thus mostly examining the depersonalized quality of meditative writing as pertaining to this work, but the depersonalized/deterritorialized self has its initial appearance long before in the landscape plays. “There are the words, always the words that lead us on in stark and abstract constructions,” writes Dydo about Stanzas. “Freed of personal life and personal subject matter, the words speak with a disembodied voice that is no longer the voice of Gertrude Stein but the voice of words becoming constructions” (45). Pointing out further toward a system of words as embodied virtually in its quest “to compose exactitude, intensity and movement in words” (45).   95  Although the question of identity and character may be central to Stein’s writing, or maybe because of it, characters are not prefigured in terms of stable entities that populate a narrative, but they are forces, visible or not, that shape the being of the social in its emerging forms in relation to objects, knowledges, cognitions, the play of language, the movement of words and landscape. In order to retain its relevance and depth, the question of identity is engaged with a psychological, scientific, and philosophical intention, even if seemingly yielding childish disorganized scribbles. The childish indeed retains a freshness of perception of the meditative medium at work, not interested in sentiment, speculation or associative language, but actively and directly engaged with “first-hand observation in words” (Dydo 47). As a method of writing, this meditative observation through words of the buzzing world around explains the seeming simplicity in diction such that Stein’s language actively and performatively refuses to be reified into masterfully crafted poetic lines choosing instead to operate by striking the reader, at times baffling or putting them outright to sleep. To some this may seem like un-literature, but this marginalization already suggests that at stake here is more than writing; here is a writing that concerns life, not a personal life of Gertrude Stein but life as a system of sensing, experiencing, knowing, expressing.  In Dydo’s reading of Stanzas, consciousness is not the consciousness of an object of perception but a certain peopling, a place — which for Stein already suggests a dramatic staging where a multiplicity occurs. The formula to act against the centre calls for dislodging the centre of gravity from its centralizing fixed place in order to liberate individual particles — particulars — rendering their shifting configurations audible and visible — rendering them as auditory particulars, each moment of the play creating a slice of the virtual immediacy of life. Stein’s sentiment with regard to particulars anticipates the emerging ethos of the age of  96  immanence, theorized under different critical guises as the aesthetics of montage and mechanical production in Benjamin, the mosaic approach of McLuhan, and the rhizome model of Deleuze and Guattari, to mention three compelling images of representation.  Pages, chapters, parts, acts, and scenes, actual and merely designated as partitions or segments of a work, are virtual units; they serve the purpose of providing a sequencing, and become actual material for variations. Stein’s verbal actions are a composition or a composing in progress akin to musical units, and the process of writing resembles musical composition where text/notation is a transcript or blueprint of the auditory. Text as auditory is no longer a text or writing, though insofar as considered in its printed form, the analogies are difficult to overlook. Herein lies the mystery of nonsense in Stein, in that the verbalization only resembles textual production, though it finds its way out precisely in that form, and so finds text as an actualization of fragmented speech; Stein’s texts are exemplary spoken performance events rendered as scripted text, and when treated as text/writing alone must baffle the reader as ungrammatical, unedited, and strange.  The writing with its odd divisions into often incompatible units of text dramatizes divisibility itself, emphasizing the need, even the absolute desire, and the joy of dividing/segmenting and problematizing this very desire at the same time, as if mocking the value attached to measure, and the analysis that can presumably catch it. To be out of syntax is to be out of the filing line/toe line, and at times it demands an absolute precision of the measure/rhythm of the spoken line, as if there was nothing else there that counted there, nothing there to keep, just the melody of the line escaping its syntactical alignment, blasting its way through semantics to this constant other of meaning that resides in music.   97  People, characters, individuals, entities, groups, designated as personal pronouns and proper names or merely alluded to as orientations/directions of speech, mentioned though never actually encountered, are themselves peopled. To each belongs its own but at the same time different, distinct population that constitutes its selfsameness. Because of this dynamic quality that resides in people as characters populating Stein’s works (many of whom are actual people on Stein’s mind at the time of writing), characters cannot be treated as formal narrative elements, as there is no narrative outside the variegated movement of characters/personas/personalities. The same applies to Stein’s use of landscape as a peculiar take on the narrative/dramatic setting. In its presentation (description) and deployment (operations), landscape cannot be detached from character, plot or theme as standard analytical constants of narratives or drama. It’s because they are dynamic aspects of the meditative composition, intensifiers or tensors that populate the field of statement/page with their energy lines; they are forces directly involved in the production/staging of the piece at hand, voices of the text.  Useful Knowledge and Geographical History of America continue Stein’s interest in landscape writing as a form of material presence — immediacy — of language, perception, thought, “systematically smashing every connotation that words have ever had” (as William Carlos Williams put it in his 1931 essay) and opting for a panoramic, simultaneous, kinetic, and ahistorical description of place (Vanskike). The standpoint of “sight and sound,” Stein’s explicit description of her interest in theater, is applied to the representation of the world rendered synthetically and synaesthetically in “its whole extension” (Alfandary) as drama in the real sense of action, and so phenomenologically rather than tragically, or “postdramatically” as Andrzej Wirth proposes in his reading of Stein’s plays, arguing that the  98  key conceit of Stein’s theatre lies in dissolving the notion of figure as an ‘imagist’ic rendering of an object or thing. Put another way, this “postdramatic” approach to theatre breaks down the model of figure-ground as the essence of dramatic representation or staging, and can be understood as a manifestation of  ‘the scandal of cubism.’  In her ‘theoretical’ essay “Plays,” Stein formulates her theory of the medium of theatre as potential space for textual experiment with voices, as poetics of word and its acoustic formation, as an auditory statement. The peculiar segmenting tactic used in her theatre creates a radical break from the established taxonomy of the social world around, imposing a particular understanding of this world in terms of its patterns of coherence, and offering the representational resonance of the world of people and things in its immediate presentation. Stein’s landscape plays are audio-visual documents, documenting the essence of what happened, the essence of events as immediate resonant presences, and at the same time as something recorded and filmed, spliced and edited into a complex audio-visual composition. They read like Jean-Luc Godard’s experimental films, through a speeding up and slowing down of images and voices, demonstrating a relative independence but also the interpenetration of media of sound and sight, sometimes coinciding and sometimes splitting apart.  What is particularly useful in thinking about Stein in relationship to cubism is that the essence of cubism came from trying to show various viewpoints or various times in a scene simultaneously. In her landscape plays this multiple point of view relates to cubism in the way it  shows the essence of things and positions them in a landscape while showing more than one aspect at once. She explains citing the example of the Four Saints opera:   99  Anyway I did write Four Saints an Opera to be Sung and I think it did almost what I wanted, it made a landscape and the movement in it was like movement in and out with which anybody looking on can keep in time. I also wanted it to have the movement of nuns very busy and in continuous movement but as placid as a landscape has to be because after all the life in a convent is the life of a landscape, it may look excited as a landscape does sometimes look excited but its quality is that a landscape if it ever did go away would have to go away to stay. (82) The landscape plays are cinematic portraits of movement, dramatic media renditions of slices of life. This is the writing of difference, recording the audio-visual displacement of word and self as center, creating audio-visual statements by intensifying and fragmenting dramatic writing. Stein employs here her own kind of alienation effect, alienating the readers from the text, forcing them to turn on the radio and gramophone to accompany the reading process, the way Glenn Gould would practice his Bach, with a radio on while singing to himself to deliberately disrupt his sight reading. Sound collages of social geography as virtual readings of life take centre stage providing readings from, or as Cage would call it, writing through the book of life, the market, the parlor, the street, the kitchen, and the bedroom as resonant spaces where words and language are recorded, returning via texts to their pulsating radio-audio-visual life. The reconfiguration of the figure as conveniently contrasted with ground is a well-known theme of modernist painting initiated by impressionism and radically advanced by cubist, surrealist, and abstract expressionist experiments. The innovation of Stein consists in applying this problematic to literary representations whose obvious surface materials are printed words, words supplanted, and in a sense voided, by the system of language as the ground of coherence of a merely typographic image. The meaning of a text resides in a  100  continuous copresence or interplay of the immanence of the word on a page and the transcendent system of its decoding. This interplay is what makes reading become something other than just an act of reading, for example an aesthetic or cognitive process. Stein’s ‘sight and sound’ approach, however, stresses the perceptual immediacy of theatrical experience, the actual experience of text, as at the same time an audible word, a figure/character, and a staging. Sight and sound are simultaneous elements of a performance. Stein insists on this simultaneity in a literal sense as the only reality of text available, and so removes the invisible/inaudible dimension of performance, its blueprint, as a presumed reality behind the experiential appearance of it. 1. 4. From Landscape to Luminescence in Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights Stein’s 1938 opera-play Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights can be read as an exemplary text in the feminist visionary poetics project. In this section, I extend this line of reading offering a media analysis that aims at a gender-media hybrid interpretation of the text where issues concerning the politics of gender as personal and legal body meet the spectral embodiments of a mediated self. My take is in line with the overall goal of the thesis to examine the interface of sound and text, bending the ear to the multiple performative auditoriness — the voice — of the text itself. In Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights the medium of the word as text-print and as ultimate communiqué of landscape plays goes through another level of mediation in need of a multiple embodied form, as a multivocality of a dialogic readership somewhat characteristic of opera librettos. In the context of this problematization, the opera dramatizes the contest between a singular vision of the eye-centre of the typographic superman, engaging the question of artificial light as a philosophical problem of the mind via audio and visual  101  operations of the media system, a cinematext/operatext creating multiple vocalizations of the voice and the pleasures of cinematic, kinetic oral performance and understanding. Through its inherent audio rituality, Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights as exemplary auditory text lifts off the page, sounding out as a virtual multiplex of simultaneous vocalizations. In “Would a viper…” Shirley Neuman offers valuable comments on Stein’s opera and its theme, reminding us that as both character and a type/theme, Faust represents the angst of knowledge, power and mastery. In the context of the Faustian theme, light symbolizes a theatrical artifice, and as such is a part of staging. The premise of the play is a careful reworking of the Faustian myth, being essentially consistent with the Faustian tradition, though playing around with it. Neuman claims that Stein’s take on the theme is a hybrid blend of two unrelated works, on one hand Ferruccio Busoni’s last unfinished opera Doktor Faust, and on the other Oliver Wendell Holmes’s horror tale, Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny, offering that “Busoni’s suggestion that Faustus, however damned, could by an act of will be life-giving, particularly when combined with her associations of snakebite with Holmes’s earlier revision of the doctrine of Original Sin in Elsie Venner, is crucial to Stein’s libretto” (175). Although a detailed comparative analysis of these three texts is beyond the purview of my argument here, I begin by summarizing notable points of Neuman’s article.  The article addresses the problem of identity, questioning Faustus’s entity (what am I) versus Marguerite Ida’s identity (who am I): “the serious debate about knowing that Stein’s characters are about to enact in their struggle with one another” (176). Stein’s turn to Faustus, according to Neuman, represents concerns over the divided personhood of a public persona following Stein’s tour of the U.S. Neuman brings up evidence of Stein’s struggle with the identity of her central female character and counterpart to Faustus, quoting her notebooks:  102  “indications of the growing importance of the twin in Stein’s conception of the novel [Ida] and of her linking of the twin’s creation to a moment of public recognition” (178). And so, the immediate context for the unrealized opera is the double identity of Ida from the novel with that title, a problem likewise addressed in two of her shorter works, “A Portrait of Daisy” and the play “Lucretia Borgia” (both written around 1938). Neuman reminds us in one of the footnotes that the early version of Ida appeared in the Boudoir Companion: Frivolous, Sometimes Venomous Thoughts on Men, Morals and Other Women (footnote 21). She argues in Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights the doubleness of Ida serves a different function than in the novel. It is not a split personality along the personal versus public self line, but a reinforcement of sorts: a double identity and a doubly protective layer protecting a new multiple entity: “two names are a character’s way of not losing her personality in the face of the public’s attempts to appropriate her and to assimilate her into the single public name” (181). This detailed biographical reading offers another relevant comment: “The double name has been playfully doubled as a result of the liberating surge of creativity in early May which led Stein to a means of characterizing a resistance to becoming a public ‘one’” (181). With regard to the initial referencing of Holmes’s gothic tale, Neuman observes that Stein’s interest in the theological argument concerning the question of knowledge and the biblical snakebite shifts to Hollywood cinema’s publicity and the loss of self over to the public cult of celebrity, offering that “part of the theological argument of Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights involves an extended allusion to matriarchal religion” (183). Indeed matriarchal iconography in the form of mother goddesses associated with snakes, symbolizing both creativity and destruction, power and poison, knowledge and death, are visibly featured in the opera.   103  The feminist aspect of the opera-play in Neuman’s view lies in inverting the story of Original Sin. She underscores that the doubling of the name of the heroine occurs at a time when she’s holding the viper. Here, she points out the rich symbolism of all four female names that make up the singular multiple agency/subjectivity of Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel. The theological theme is tied up with the theme of ritual sacrifice. In order to recover his soul, Faustus is advised by Mephisto to kill anything. He kills the boy and the dog to regain his human self, tired of and disappointed with his supernatural knowledge/power alienating him from the humans. Neuman concludes: “Her opera links technological knowledge, sexual knowledge and the knowledge of the crowd to ask what happens when the viper, symbol of the ‘temptation’ of all three and of their simultaneous healing and destructive capacities, changes hands” (190).  Turning to McLuhan as my media guide, here in particular with regard to the relationship between print and orality, his insights on print in contrast to auditory cultures of sound resonate through what Neuman calls “the mutual exclusiveness of their [Faustus versus Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel’s] two kinds of knowledge” (177). Revolving thematically around the female vision of continuity with nature in a world threatened by technology, Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights likewise offers a visual allegory and a dramatic staging of an epistemic rift between sight and sound as two paradigms of knowledge and cognition, two modes of perception — sensibility — coming to a clash as a dramatic element, the action, of the opera.  At stake in this gender-media reading is a battle between two competing figurations, two body organs and embodiments embraced in a utopian call for a transforming power that makes possible their epistemic synthesis. Stein’s play can be read alongside McLuhan’s claim  104  concerning the emergence of electric technology as a return to the world of integrated sensoria, simultaneity and continuity, something McLuhan often refers to as the ‘acoustic space’ characteristic of tribal, pre-print social organization. McLuhan’s argument proposes that while a radical extension of sight produces specialized knowledge that detribalizes it through print and print technologies, common sense, as sensus communis, retribalizes knowledge by recovering and bringing other senses into the fold of knowledge practice. This is a sort of Stein’s own Archeology of Knowledge in a dramatic opera staging. Specifically in Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, a peculiarly disguised kind of special character, the electric technology, exposes and literally brings to light the regime of print. Print, as McLuhan reminds us in Understanding Media, operates by fragmenting and segmenting: “What had begun with the alphabet as a separation of the multiple gestures and sights and sounds in the spoken word, reached a new level of intensity, first with the woodcut and then with typography. The alphabet left the visual component as supreme in the word” (160), thus producing a culture where even spoken language operates primarily as a visual mode.  Stein’s opera dramatizes seeing as a perceptual-cognitive-communicational cluster: ‘seeing’ in its common uses as sense perception, understanding, and affirmation, all three simultaneously and indissolubly. Seeing extends the actual eye, supplanting it with the whole complex apparatus, but by the same token detaches itself from the eye as a proper or natural organ of perception. Peeled off the face, the eye multiplies like in some surrealist image, reterritorializing on other body parts and organs, unexpectedly and unpredictably, or leaving the body altogether, to gape at it from a dollar bill or advertising poster. The eye of the observant onlooker has been twisted by a cubist image and a collage artist along with their proliferating avatars, which has forced it to come out of its socket to look at an object  105  simultaneously from different angles, questioning the thingness of a thing. In Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, Stein takes note of this social, cultural, and aesthetic fact, singing an opera about it. There is a meditative depth on the nature and complexity of the modern world at work here, penned in the style of a serious comedy of errors, with erring eyes, aiming gazes, gaping looks, crisscrossing glances, ailing views — full of watching, electrified by it: animated and shell-shocked. Her operatic panopticon offers no fixed point of view constituted by, and constitutive of, perspective, that could provide a legitimate character-person a comfortable vista of seeing, instead serving up to the listener-reader a plurality of points, a pixilated republic of watching as the staging for a particularity to occur and partake in the feast. The inward, as in taking an object of perception in for cognitive-readerly mastication and digestion, turns outward, onto the world. Stein’s operatic take on Faustus coincides with the emergence of Heidegger’s philosophy of Dasein, which reconfigures the epochal vision of a phenomenologist to bracket off the world and peek into the essences of things, the essence of each particular thing as dissociated from another, in a dream of building a world of understanding out of individuated pixels of pure knowing. This particular coincidence signifies just that, a kind of synchrony in the evolving world rather than being a reflection of Stein’s interest in philosophical investigations. The world is already in the air, so to speak; Heidegger gestures in this direction courageously and resolutely with his poetic syntax and systematic philosophical sampling, far from being a discoverer of it. In a way, all he has to do is close his analytic-philosophical eye and open the poetic one to see this. For the world is not only a material multiple presence hosting Dasein — that being there whose mode of being resides in there, but an ongoing project and theme of a modernist. In this second sense, the world is born, no doubt among  106  other locations and circumstances, at that precisely indeterminate moment when a certain miss Brown makes a cameo appearance in Virginia Woolf’s essay on modernism, “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown,” in the meditative pleasure of Woolf’s immaculate writerly conception. The twisted eye, in short, sings the other way around: the world comes first as the ten thousand things. Moreover, and still more complexly and comically, this particular coming of the world, a becoming of world as the always already preceding axiom of knowing, deconstructs the model of sequential understanding with its firsts, seconds, and thirds. The conceptualization of the world as the ground ecology of knowledge, as its possibility in the first place, interrogates the insequence behind the linear ordering of particles of understanding. Stein’s tactic of clustering or compounding, as in acts and parts of An Exercise in Analysis, offers specific advantages; first, it relates to repetition as a unique trope of writing initially meant to comment on the lived reality of people during the time of working on her monumentally unreadable The Making of Americans. That ‘they repeat’ announces itself there as part of the narrative in progress reflected in its own reflectivity as a striking discovery concerning the psychological-social essence of people, animating her writing-research project and offering the readers Stein’s signature use of repetition. Repetition, Stein reminds us, does not mechanically reproduce the same but rather breaks apart the same into a diversity of different sames, a system of permutations which renders the same forever different, however minimally.  I stressed earlier Stein as a thinker. In that guise, Stein returns in Faustus to the theme of knowledge. As a figuration of knowledge, the central presence, Faustus represents the quest for knowledge at an abstract, metaphysical level, clashing with the mythical ground- 107  matrix; for Faust in particular, it is the quest for power and depth of insight associated with power emanating from knowledge: a case of knowledge for knowledge’s sake. But insofar as insight is what knowledge seeks, is there a clarity as to what this insight insights into? Into the nature of matter, biological cell, linguistic code? This question remains comically in the dark, outside the realm of articulatable statements. Faustian knowledge is ultimately of a metaphysical orientation, emanating down to material things and daily practice, as evidenced by his ability to treat the snakebite. But deep down the orientation and nature of this knowledge is unknown, precisely insofar as it is power. Which makes Faustus an ambiguous character, exhausted from the start by his own mastery, overwhelmed by his own understanding, unable to keep up with it. Hence, the power/knowledge quest dramatized in the play is also a quest for language as a technology — a technique — of information and communication, a language that can articulate knowledge, give it a certain shape, make sense of it, and so make it transparent and transferable to others. The hopeless operetta-style naïve lines of the libretto dramatize this language orientation, coming visibly short of sophistication, and yet yielding a strange branch of aphoristic insight through a simplicity that charms the reader. What, given that knowledge/power is at the centre of gravity here, pulling all characters towards its source, could be the proper language of knowledge? What kind of statement expresses knowledge proper? Is it a nursery rhyme, a common expression, a poetic line, or a mathematical formula? No matter how seemingly complex, particularly so with regards to the unreadable statements of specialized jargon of science, language operates as a cliché, a snapshot that registers back to/at the source or matrix from which it originated, within a system of its specialized statements — discourse. As such, to borrow from McLuhan, it cannot avoid revealing its sensory bias.   108  Let’s pause for a moment to clarify this metaphoric chaos. What I am talking about is synaesthesia, not as it applies to a person confused about his/her sense perceptions, however, but as it applies to knowledge. The question is: what is the sensory bias of knowledge? The question may strike one as unclear and confusing at first, but it makes perfect sense in the context of affect theory where knowledge can be theorized as a complex of percepts — various sensorial data encoded. In this sense, it is comprehensible to claim that the sensory bias of knowledge in the modern period dating back to Bacon, Galileo, and Descartes increasingly leans toward the statement. The drama of knowledge then takes place at the level of the statement and the drama of language has played across of a range of seemingly disconnected theories stretching from Rudolf Carnap’s logical investigations of the syntax of science, which evacuated words altogether as inadequate and replaced them by a system of ‘logical’ squiggles, to semi-intentional mock investigations of syntax of the so-called language poets who under their L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E banner, interrogated the word equally fervently.  The mythic biblical dimension of the play is lampooned, but this comic treatment doesn’t mean it is being dismissed out of hand as inadequate. The play after all treats inadequacies; the central inadequacy, as I demonstrate, concerns the self as a subject subjected — sentenced — to knowledge. The mythic is not dismissed but rather parodied, incorporated in order to be critically examined. And so, the play on the one hand concerns the shape of a statement that articulates knowledge proper, and likewise captures the sensory bias of the mythopoeic, as inadequate increasingly difficult to engage discursively as it is, and overcoded by the electric/radio/atomic paradigm entering the world scene where all characters are left at a loss as to how to negotiate their entities/identities.   109  Stein’s opera, which offers relevant insight into the destructive nature of technology at the break of World War II, resonates with Heidegger’s introspective take on the ravages of the war in response to the nuclear threat in his essay on the question of technology. Both embrace technology as at once menacing/threatening reality and a poetic phenomenon par excellence. In Stein, this clash between the menace and poetics results in an emphasis on visible phenomena, that otherwise fall outside the scope of experience and knowledge, here coming to the fore in a dramatic farce, comically insisting on the seriousness of its subject matter.  Right on the surface is the rift between the all-inclusive sensoria of Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel and the single vision of Faustus, who represents the striving for light and is in some way the source of it, at the centre of knowledge production. Yet Faustus is not only an exemplary figure of Enlightenment but also represents the ritual murder at the core of it. The play engages the new avenues of understanding and knowing emerging from the electric technologies of communication sweeping the world over, announcing a shift of paradigms in the larger, print-oriented master-narrative at work in conceptualizing the world. As a utopian vision of the end of patriarchy, phallogocentrism replaced by the model of inclusion grounded in a multitudinous community, it continues Stein’s earlier experiments with syntactically open systems where subjectivity, identity, and oneness are reconfigured. The electric light, not a real character but a kind of leading figuration, is a pictograph that blinds Faustus, its counterpart; together they are the embodied single vision of print and logic. The play projects this odd artifact of light, a blazing and blinding light in the centre with a glow around where shapes gradually emerge and a story takes place and where the logic and understanding represented by the centre are challenged.  110  My first reaction to Gertrude Stein’s Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights was to recall the light bulb suspended in the midst of darkness and strangely illuminated by a Moebius glow on the front cover of the first McGraw-Hill paperback edition of Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media. The book treats media as extensions of the body, claiming that new technologies affect first and foremost the body, altering its sense ratios and patterns of perception, only gradually to involve concepts and beliefs. The cover offers a visual metaphor of knowledge, pointing toward technologies of vision and toward mediation. A light bulb on a black background also represents McLuhan’s interest in the concept of ground, itself a trope of his epistemological quest, but the two work together as figure and ground, which is to say as an image, as if forced into a cartoon representation. In his argument throughout Understanding Media, McLuhan is concerned with print as an extension of sight, and as such generating a particular form of cognition and knowledge, his mission having to do with “rous[ing] typographic man from his trance” and delivering him, in the words of William Blake, from “single vision and Newton’s sleep” (195).  Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights must strike one as a rather lucid text by comparison with the more experimental landscape plays. Part of its lucidity has to do with Stein’s play inscribing itself within a story whose thematic considerations are well known to the reader so that its subtext can serve throughout as a model for her reworking of the myth; also because the dramatic material of the opera is organized in a fairly straightforward manner, with stage directions separated from the dialogues, and the dialogues clearly ascribed to individual characters; and finally because the language employed is simple, at times mimicking ordinary speech and throughout utilizing “an enormous inventory of primitive incantations, riddles, jingles, chants, and echoes of popular songs” (Dydo 596). In concert with Stein’s ongoing  111  preoccupation with identity, the play dramatizes the emergence of a new subjectivity: the embodied subject at the centre of rational control and power that characterizes the Enlightenment project from the early Renaissance to the peak of modernity that here is metamorphosed into a multiple, decentred, and nomadic self.  Faustus is a figure of rational abstraction and detachment, of the quest for abstract knowledge dissociated from its experience and the human environment, extending this environment in ways that threaten the essence of the human as part of nature. He embodies uneasily, aware of the limitations, the Cartesian subject who must claim knowledge, information, and understanding as ways of propelling him into being. His allegiance to reason, whose ultimate figuration is print as a technology of information, is what both alienates him from the social and confers upon him a great deal of power. “I am the only one who can know what I know” (598). At the same time, Faustus also represents the crisis of metaphysics, the coming to an end of the era of mythical involvement with forces of nature and the emergence of the scientific paradigm that favors specialized knowledge and mechanization over mythical-poetic depths of understanding. A Narcissus bending over a pool of electric light — “Bathe me / says Doctor Faustus / Bathe me / In the electric light” (599) — seduced by its speed and the promise of omniscience in the form of pure information, reason, and logic, he is the double of the electric speed that “reveals the lines of force operating from Western technology in the remotest areas of bush, savannah, and desert” (McLuhan 16). And yet the embodied nature of the modern subject marks at the same time the emergence of new discursive possibilities, of new knowledge formations and epistemes, never fully realized within the paradigm of mechanical production. Stein follows in the footsteps of another visionary, William Blake who, again in the words of McLuhan, “saw Newton and  112  Locke and others as hypnotized Narcissus types quite unable to meet the challenge of mechanism” (25). The electric technology at the tip of Faustus’s fingers — but never fully grasped — offers to bring back the mythical way of life, a sense of community, empathy and awareness represented in the play by a peculiar new subject, that of Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel. Through this new female subjectivity, Stein can also revisit the myth of origins that lies at the heart of Western civilization.   As an allegory, the play dramatizes the clash of the two paradigms, of mechanization with its fragmenting — detribalizing — agent of print, and the electric technology with its synthesizing — retribalizing — forces of speed and total involvement, or, in the words of McLuhan, “the ultimate conflict between sight and sound, between written and oral kinds of perception and organization” (16). The Gutenberg technology  (Gutenberg has his quarters just around the corner from Faustus) with its repeatability and irrelevant precision at the service of specialized knowledge, with its stress on visual information responsible for a three-dimensional world of perspective and fixed point of view, is a Cartesian dream of reducing philosophy and selfhood to precise mathematical form (161). In contrast, Stein turns on a kind of utopian glow, offering a forward projection and a visionary peek into the dark recesses of time and myth, and renouncing the false promise of Enlightenment. Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights is a battle over vision and its technologies, ultimately a battle over figuration where in contrast with the uniform space of perspective emerges a discontinuous space of tactile perception. From the beginning of the play we encounter Faustus in agony, concerned about himself and the truth, about knowledge, deception, error, in pain over what he knows, what can be known, what is the source of knowledge and certainty and whether they are of any  113  importance. “What do I care there is no here nor there. What am I” (597). He invokes the devil and requires his presence, and yet he curses Mephisto and the fact that he had to offer his soul and sign the contract. Time is of the essence here. The pact with the devil, as Faustus is well aware, is about compressing time, of being able to do the work of God, that of creating light, within a human life time: “if I had not been in a hurry and if I had taken my time I would have known how to make white electric light and day-light and night-light and what did I do I saw you miserable devil I saw you and I was deceived and I believed miserable devil I thought I needed you” (597).  Whereas Faustus is introduced in the typical posture of a hero, “standing at the door of his room, with his arms up” (596), fixed in place and symbolically pointing to heaven, Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel enters the scene only gradually, in a series of mediations, as a hearsay: “I hear her / he says” (601). She’s a distant murmur breaking into a song, invisible, immaterial, mysterious; she is what he said and what he imagined, what he anticipated and longed for, arriving to sing the glory of his prowess, “to sing a song / All about / every light” (601). She’s a chorus of voices singing in the distance, announced and announcing herself, coming into being in a glow of light, a multiplicity and a chora. She’s the one of whom the electric lights have spoken and told him so (602), and she already confuses him, makes him stutter, “and tell and tell and tell and tell and tell, oh hell” (602). She is cursed and denounced from the beginning, “She will not be says Doctor Faustus never never never” (602). Yet she is what might be, as a modality, at least for as long as the chorus insists. In an echo of the “a rose is a rose is a rose,” in the arousal and the rising of language that is her birth, “her name is her name is her name...” (602).  114  Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel has no fixed name and location. Her name throughout the play is a source of confusion. Difficult to pronounce with the fluidity expected, difficult to see and conceptualize, she forces into the text a grammatical error and so inserts herself into the system of social relations by omitting the name of her father/husband, thus spoiling the smooth text of patriarchy like an inkblot. Her location is likewise a source of confusion, producing an anxiety even to herself. For she cannot be located properly within the Cartesian system of coordinates but rather remains in the all-encompassing here, spilling over boundaries, in the wild woods where “animals wild animals are everywhere” (603). In contrast with the fixed positionality of Faustus, who is at home in both the public and the private world, she is simply here, in no particular place, outside civilization, a savage with no room, chair or carpet to her name, unable to grasp herself and undefined, a shimmer of shifting pronouns.  All this, however, is about to change, and all this gives her an extraordinary mobility; that she is not there in fact enables her to move, gives purpose to her being. Whereas Faustus is already immobilized, caught up in contractual obligations with the devil, fixed in his role of a patriarch, doctor, scientist, seduced by the light and blinded by it, blinded by his ego and unable to see, Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel knows how to use her senses; she is in touch with her sensorium: a body learning to walk, see, experience. “She stands up with her hands at her sides she opens and closes her eyes and opens them again” (603). Stein gives us here a sort of poetic account of how the sense of sight works, the gist of which is what we already know: light is not equivalent to seeing. Light, as McLuhan will say only a few years later, is not the content of another medium; it is pure mediation where the external and internal merge and where the subject and object are no longer distinguishable. This inherent  115  multi-perceptual merging is what Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel can discover only from a distance, in the glow of light, so to speak, rather than at the heart of it, only at the margins where things can be perceived because only there, at the edges of official narratives, they are not obliterated by the blaze emanating from the centre. “She says / In the distance there is daylight and near to there is none” (603).  Visibility and information, seeing as a way of knowing, repeatedly referred to in the play with its “I see” may be correlated but they are not equivalent. The manners of seeing indeed come into conflict; they both need to be negotiated and both are social practices. Light is of no use at the centre or near it, something Faustus, claiming the centre for himself, is not able to see; the centre in fact endangers, perhaps even destroys both the object and the subject, as well as the eye that mediates between the two. None, in the line quoted above, can be taken to mean both nothing and no one, and so the line reads as there is no one/nothing near to there (at the centre where Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel is not yet). Light, on the other hand, does work in the distance where she stands. By patiently opening and closing her eyes, she is able to realize that seeing a thing requires both looking and not looking at the same time; it’s a set of dancing steps, a complex technology that extends across an array of phenomena, from the optic nerve to social practices that already implicate individual bodies in the collective visual register, in social ways of looking and seeing. Thus she is able gradually to see everything: the green of the woods, the wild woods everywhere, the horror of her own position, of being here without a chair or carpet, and the fact that she has no social voice proper, no position from which she could speak: “it is not well that I could tell what there is to tell what there is to see” (603).   116  The task for Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel is to get from here to there, something that looks easy in print but is far more complicated in reality. For here and there are not simply points in space that can be connected by a line but rather plateaus that represent different levels of organization of their signifying materials, different regimes of meaning. In order to arrive there, Stein suggests, Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel has to fall into text and subsequently contain it by reclaiming and subverting the biblical myth of origin. This is an extraordinary moment in Stein, totally uncharacteristic of her writing so otherwise committed to non-referentiality. In Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, however, Stein herself, via the decentred, nomadic, and lesbian subject of her female double becomes a veritable trickster figure. This is Stein’s ploy — the play is the ploy — for a female character/figure/subject to be in patriarchy and not get incorporated. Hence she secures for herself a position of being permanently otherwise, both here and sort of there, in direct relation to phallogocentrism, yet dancing and singing through it. The initial “I hear her” of Faustus brings her in, but she is not of it, not until she can physically cross the threshold and enter the room occupied by Faustus by tricking him into believing that she too can now make the light and go to hell, and where she can be on display, seen by other women already approaching on the other side of a glass window. By unmasking the Bible and turning herself into the Virgin Mary, she is able to transit from the oral to the visual without getting blinded by the light. The snake that bit/stung her dies, and she brandishes it over her head and transforms it into Mr. Viper, which symbolically puts an end to the knowledge practice of Faustus, with the instrument of power and control, speculum, slipping out of Faustus’s hands. That knowledge practice of visuality is exposed as folly because it cannot deliver its promise of Enlightenment. What is delivered instead thanks to the Virgin Mary and immaculate  117  conception are babies/masterpieces, masterpieces that in a peculiarly Stein-like fashion are no longer distinguishable from laundry notes. In the closing lines, the artificial viper, Mr. Viper, civilized and contained, stripped of all biblical horror, no more than a little plastic gadget or dildo, is called out by the little boy and the little girl, two meager voices seeping through the dark. The play ends in the dark with Faustus gone to hell and with him the Enlightenment, Cartesian fixed subject, as well as logocentrism and its attendant anxiety over deception, truth, and error. It’s a telling way of ending the play about the quest for light as a Cartesian trope of clarity, precision, and reason. In the end, we are able to hear the echo of Faustus’s own words from Act 1, “what after all is the use of light, you can see just as well without it, you can go around just as well without it you can get up and go to bed just as well without it” (597). Darkness brings back the night with its mystery and depth, but it also suggests that light could be of service, domesticated as it were, with its different degrees and spectra controlled by an electric switch.  In McLuhan’s terms, darkness is paradigmatic of ‘cool media,’ which require participation, involvement and a balanced sensorium, and produce a kind of cooling effect. In Understanding Media, McLuhan writes, “intensity or high definition engenders specialism and fragmentation in living as in entertainment, which explains why any intense experience must be ‘forgotten,’ ‘censored,’ and reduced to a very cool state before it can be ‘learned’ or assimilated” (24). In her reworking of the legend of Faustus as the dominion of print-knowledge couched in the cloak of the biblical myth of original sin, Stein urges us to assimilate the myth and assimilate the medium. Stein’s ecstatic “feeling of everybody” of theatre erupts here into a resonant rejection of print and its fragmented, specialized knowledge, offering instead a multitude of voices, the voice of people, a population, a  118  spreading difference and a distribution of differences in the face of the growing interest in the cult of leadership and individualism of the late 1930’s, where crucial media battles were taking place alongside formative historical events. In the course of her philosophical investigations as evidenced by a range of different texts, from lectures to operas and plays for the purpose of production as well as experimental texts not intended for staging, and other experimental writing, Stein adopts cubism as a manner of bringing into her writing a practice of resonant simultaneous thinking akin to meditation, which by means of different levels of associations, associative resonances in the form of word play, insistence, repetition, and rhythm initiates her sound-texts, oral performance scriptures, as vocalizations, or vocal auditory events: the auditory text.  I stressed earlier in the chapter the relations of the ordinary “one thing and the other thing” in Stein. The innovative and experimental in Stein, what connects her deeply with the most interesting avant-garde writing and thinking of modernity, is just one remove from a trite sentimental personal art composed of domestic imagery and events, revolving around the kitchen and vegetable patch, peppered with domestic joys and little daily dramas, what Deleuze and Guattari refer to in the passage quoted earlier as a “micropolitics of the social field.” But it’s not the subject matter that boxes Stein’s art into this or that school or style, as such matters never determine the orientation of thought anyway. Reduced to mere subject matters, art becomes a caricature of itself, a trivial and useless activity, failing to provide any relevant insight into the real and turned into a fetish by collectors, art custodians and corporate funding agencies who dissociate it from the flow of life and place it behind glass, sanctifying it as a classic. On the other hand, the fuzzy line where ordinary life matters blend  119  with sophistication and style is where the populist potential of art lives to the fullest its social paradoxes and clichés.  This populist potential of art I further explore in conjunction with the claim about the auditory as a turn toward sound. The populist here does not refer to this or that content of literature or music, for example rock music versus classical, but rather as a form of attention given to words and language in their sound orientation, as auditory phenomena, as the clicks, beeps, scratches, and gurgles of Cage, the spastic belching of silences and speech in Beckett, the hiccup, snorkel, and burps of Zappa, eventually in a digital recording preserved for eternity. The populist, the ‘social energy’ of listening/hearing, has an ear for the sound of words. How this ear hears and understands manifests in the social ways of listening and hearing as ways of being in the world.  120  CHAPTER 2: THE AUDITORY SCRIPTURES OF SAMUEL BECKETT 2. 1. Composition, Voice, and the Multitude in Beckett In “The Exhausted,” his critical essay on Beckett’s television plays, Gilles Deleuze elaborates at length on the concept of exhaustion — in contrast to tiredness — as an intentional activity aiming at undoing, exhausting, or finishing something off, as an image of Beckett himself as the writer, thinker, and avant-garde experimenter. The title of the essay resonates with the spirit of the Deleuzian reading of Beckett’s late drama in terms of his undoing of language, self, and writing, by consistently exhausting them. “[O]ne remains active, but for nothing... one is exhausted by nothing” (153). In a way, Deleuze constructs his own Beckett, offering a critical reading that draws on the understanding of the essence of Beckett’s oeuvre: as testing the limits of language and aiming at creating a language purified, free of words, an image-language.   Following the Deleuzian reading of the concept of exhaustion in Beckett, I examine how in Beckett thematic considerations of exhaustion are related to language and writing, the subject and the social, and the voice and sense; and how they affect the concept, practice, and shape/form of Beckett’s composition, the nature of language employed to this purpose as well as the voices, the multitude, as parts or components of his writing. I think of Beckett’s model of composition as an ‘auditory textual discourse’ and take it, after Stein, as a distribution of points, lines, relationships, and differences on a ‘plane of immanence’. I stress the distributory and auditory aspect of Beckett’s composition-text as indeed manifesting an ‘audial’ dimension of writing, a writing of the degree zero, dramatized as a murmuring that approximates the void, nothing, and selflessness. With his auditory writing/text as a ‘plane of  121  immanence’ with a distribution of points and lines on it — as in the spreading difference of Stein — Beckett concerns himself with the aspects of language-discourse and attendant knowledge formations beyond the purview of rational language, such that boring holes through language (as Beckett proclaimed doing) might offer one a chance to get beyond propositional logic and the syntax of sentences, to create instead a flow of utterance as a non-hierarchized, non-vertical constant murmuring of innumerable selves, manifested poetically as a continuous presence or co-presence of sound, text, and voice.  Beckett engages with, and to some degree in fact influences a similar line of inquiry of Foucault’s concerning discourse, knowledge formations, and power as a cluster of related social historical developments. Applying Foucauldian terminology to an examination of Beckett’s texts allows one to discern that through the logic of the statement as a distribution of audial clues, Beckett creates a sound composition, a musical work scripted on the page but ultimately requiring an auditory reading, a reading that makes music, even if only a virtual-void music, and has sound and/or music as its subtext. This shift of paradigms toward the statement as an auditory co-presence has a direct impact on the shape of the composition and the understanding of composition as an immanent type of structure, a processual structure evolving through a sedimentation or unfolding from within its own flow. Such a composition is structured by auditory logic, the logic of embodied co-presence, the present continuous. Consequently affected are the compositional components, the forces constitutive of the composition, namely the voice and the multiple-schizo identity residing in its proliferations.  There are two musics in Beckett, ultimately merging into one. There are sounds as obviously indicating something though primarily providing noise, an excess of speech full of redundancies, circling, fragmented syntax, seemingly dissociated from a particular body; and  122  there are silences indicating nothing, though again bringing no respite to the noise, that is so much more amplified for the attempts to silence it. Silence certainly preoccupies Beckett; somehow, it embodies his desire to silence the mind as well as quiet the world at large, even when he’s already minimized it to the smallest possible amount of space, light, and agency. Yet his exhausted language, while removing the logic of propositions with its schematic calculus of truths, yields a different element of writing and language, something musical, with an affective and intelligible immediacy, with presence as its mode of operation. Music is here to be understood broadly as comprising a variety of musical styles as employed in Beckett’s plays, but also as sounds themselves, a language on the way to becoming music, even if through nothing and silence.  Beckett’s textual composing is an ongoing immanent presence of voice and expression ahead of logic and sense, a release of sound vibrations marking a self of sorts. This is a sort of language, a language as a possibility of thought and speech, a possibility of self, where there is an ear for a sonorous phenomenon in strange ways related to, though often physically detached from, its articulating body, a language that asserts its existential presence, and opens up complex interrelationships among sound, text, and the body. Silence is part of that language. Silence, then, is not just a negative space where nothing happens, where the voice has no place and does not exist; it’s a space of listening and of expression, a space that allows for having something to say, of struggling and failing to do so, and in the words of Beckett, of the obligation to express while having nothing to say, where silence erupts comically and critically, formulating a fascinating philosophical conundrum. As many critics (Mary Bryden, Deborah Weagel, Franz Maier, Chris Ackerley, Maria Kager) show, this tangle of interrelated lines of inquiry related to auditory writing is taken up by Beckett systematically and  123  consistently throughout his oeuvre. When Beckett declares in a letter to Alan Schneider in the 1970s that his work concerns fundamental sounds (leaving the overtones to readers, critics, and commentators), he implies that the metaphor of sound is fundamental to understanding the nature of the Beckett text, and that the problem of sound and voice does not simply emerge in his dramatic works but is key to understanding his textual project as a whole. Regarding the problem of sound and the auditory dimension of text, Mary Bryden’s influential “Sounds and Silence: Beckett’s Music” focuses on Beckett’s interest in silence. The article begins by quoting Becket himself, who explicitly compared writing to silence: “his own writing seemed to him ‘like an unnecessary stain on silence’” (279). Bryden begins by problematizing that quote: “isn’t that word ‘unnecessary’ itself staining the silence unnecessarily” (279), claiming that Beckett’s interest in silence, its materiality and preference over sound, are fundamental characteristics of his writing, that indeed bring it closer to music. Her essay examines “the peculiarly rich role allocated to silence in Beckett’s writing” (279). Bryden’s article outlines relevant lines of inquiry for exploring the auditory in Beckett, showing that sound and silence are inextricably connected; that the problem of silence and nothing concern writing and thought as applied to music and literature; that music and literature equally point to a domain where listening, voice, and presence come to the fore.  In the context of Twentieth-Century literary studies, of the ‘auditory turn’ as taken up in this thesis, the cluster of sound, voice, and listening is obviously related to the problem of media and technology. The question here is: couldn’t one reasonably approach Beckett’s writing in the context of the mediatization of language and of the voice split apart from the speaker as themes regularly examined in media studies with regard to radio, television, the phonograph, and telephony? This media connection signals at the outset that Beckett’s works  124  are not just iconic avant-garde artifacts confined to the museum, academy or literary scholarship. They resonate with the sounds and voices of the everyday, the here and now. They are part of the mythology of pop culture, accessible, profound in their simplicity, and teeming with life. (The idea of a voice with no name attached, nameless, “parler une voix sans nom” (7) as Foucault puts it in his inaugural speech at the French Academy, is inspired directly by Beckett. Over the years, the idea became a reality for Foucault whose public lectures drew larger and larger crowds, necessitating the use of a PA system that would carry the ‘nameless voice’ of the lecturer to rooms where he was no longer visible. This Foucauldian line of thinking proliferates further into contemporary art and communication forms involving texting, turntablism, information and communication technologies and mixed media environments.) The rift between the speaker and speech — and in the larger context of media, the split between sound and its source as the doubling lamented by Murray Schafer in his concept of ‘schizophonia’ — here dramatizes the coming together of the literary field and the recording media, indicating different forms of mediation — different technologies — of the spoken or otherwise sounded text entering the domain of literature and writing. Thanks to his schizo voices, Beckett effectively bores his holes through language, offering a perforated auditory tape, the ghost of language, its ill shadow, “ill seen ill said,” a language at the edge of writing, rendering writing, text, and voice ambient and televisual. The question here concerns the extent to which ‘the televisual’ language of Beckett is the McLuhan response to the media domination of the typographic man of modernity, effectively questioning the structure of domination of text as a print technology. The case of ‘schizophonia’ is indirectly taken up in Katherine Hayles’s influential essay on Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, “Voices Out of Bodies, Bodies Out of Voices:  125  Audiotape and the Production of Subjectivity;” Hayles takes up a case of a voice separated from the body, shifted by means of a tape recorder used to substitute for the actual voice, becoming the artificat and its onstage simulacrum. It’s the magnetic tape, as she claims, that gives the voice paradoxically a quality at once of mutability and permanence, presenting this very play as Krapp’s unique drama. If Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape famously exemplifies the phenomenon of the voice disembodied, temporarily or permanently displaced from its own source or specific moment in time — as in Zappa’s xenochrony discussed in the last chapter — in his shorter prose texts Beckett both implicitly and explicitly proposes a language and expression that rely on stratification and the coexistence of simultaneous planes or sheets of the auditory, understood here as a disjunctive copresence of the spoken and written media.  Language-discourse shaped à la Foucault’s logic of statement is a heterogeneous system of particles, signs, sounds, intentions, affects, abstractions, and reasoning, which is why the concept of discourse at once passes through many registers, subsuming the flow of the spoken and the written, the oral and the visible. The notion of language as stratified, as itself a form of fragmentation but so too as a specialization and coding enabling new levels of synthesis or relative consistency, at the outset complicates the question of voice. Voice becomes estranged, the symptom of a deteriorating mind and body, a marker of derangement registering, with all its precision and clarity, a trajectory of madness; yet, by the same token, the voice gains autonomy; it no longer depends on the body but rises to a status of a substance, a thing in itself, possessive of its own volition. In this context, the questions to consider with regard to Beckett and sound concern the modalities of the voice, its ways of being, as ghostly fragments of the splintered reason in the virtual world of flickering signifiers of the Twentieth-Century media systems. In particular, the technologies of writing, as  126  technologies of the formation of voice and subjectivity, for example as studied by Foucault and in the polemic analysis of the typographic paradigm of print and writing in Michel de Certeau’s critique of “the scriptural economy” are salient lines of enquiry for understanding the relevance of Beckett’s auditory writing.  My Foucauldian and Deleuzoguattarian inspired readings of Beckett, specifically Deleuze’s idea of the deterritorialized televisual language of Beckett, are supplanted by McLuhan’s insights into television as a medium. In his Understanding Media, McLuhan devotes significant attention to television, the dominating medium in 1963 North America where his book was being published. Provocatively, television serves for McLuhan as his special weapon for dismantling the typographic man of print and the Gutenberg Galaxy, by “all involving sensory mandate” (308), that favors process over product, “promot[ing] depth structures in art and entertainment alike” (312), offering, in place of high resolution print, “the TV mosaic with technical control of the image [which] unconsciously reconfigures the dots into an abstract work of art on the pattern of a Seurat or Rouault” (313). Television does not abandon language, but rather it reconfigures or remediates it into an image-language, a syntactical logical void that strikes one as an affective auditory presence. In this connection, I propose ‘the televisual,’ a hybrid Deleuzoguattarian-McLuhanian media-language construct, to be the frame through which to situate Beckett in the mosaic of the Twentieth-Century auditory avant-garde. As a theoretical frame, ‘the televisual’ aids my investigations of the auditory in terms of the central theme of the thesis, composition in relation to voice and subjectivity, and the multiple subjectivity of voice as the postmodern paradigm or logic of textuality.  127  In television, space and place meet; the local and global are stitched together, the antenna/cable connection reconnecting one, as if through the umbilical cord of media, with the universe, the centre and periphery collapsing, the world and globality enfolded in the private world of a suburban living room. TV offers the lunar landing in the privacy of one’s room: the room with a view of the lunar landing. By insisting on television being ‘cool,’ participatory, visceral, bodily, McLuhan can present television as a true revolutionary medium in reconfiguring the essential dimensions and points of human understanding: the time-space continuum of abstract physics applied to ground and social related concerns like place, space, location, being in touch, playing by ear. “[T]he total involvement in all-inclusive nowness ... occurs in young lives via TV’s mosaic image” (335), McLuhan concludes the chapter on television of Understanding Media, for that’s what television is doing to one: playing by ear, scratching behind ear, massaging, locating and dislocating one, sending one into space as if on a drug-induced trip.  In contrast to film, television is not the high definition image; ‘the televisual’ is something else: a fuzzy image-sound-touch (atmoshere) cluster radiating out of a little box as black and white splotches of light, lines, wrinkles, and snow resembling people’s faces and torsos, impressions of cities and sporting events, the news and snippets of things. The aim of television is not to image but to “promote depth structures in art and entertainment alike and ... audience involvement in depth as well” (312). The liveness of television becomes the dreamland of a life suspended in the living room universe. Television radiates the constancy of altered states of consciousness by which one is transported into a world where everything literally metaphorizes, effectively erasing the difference between literal and metaphoric. The self becomes the metaphor, an extension of the universal global wave of the world teeming  128  with people, no longer the clearly defined movie stars, models, and exemplars of film but the mud, the multitude of televisual selves passing through one’s living room as a dramatic enfolding of the media life itself. This is the life that replaces, takes the place of, self, leaving self not alone but occupied, surrounded, massaged, on the receiving end of the massaging wand of the world.  Television perpetuates the imaginary where even the image becomes suspended, blurred. “The TV image is ... a mosaic mesh of light and dark spots which a movie shot never is” (313).  This “mosaic mesh of light and dark spots” is the ultimate image-language of Beckett, seen not only in his plays or television plays where this mosaic manifests as faces, bodies, and mouths magnificently reduced to a series of flickering dots, but also in his texts where black and whites, lights and darks, as elements or features of logic and understanding, predominate. In contrast to cinema, television suspends the image in the suggestive play of grays, of lights and shadows and the mesmerizing voices woven into them, woven into the frame; it’s touch and ambience that come to the fore rather than the ocularity of the eye sharpened in perception of detail; the eye here becomes just one in the multiplicity of organs and sense perceptions dislocated in the room, opened up to the immediacy of the dreamscape radiation oozing from the TV set. Television likewise propagates the social, or better put the imaginary social: collectivity and togetherness, cooperation, exemplified with the news inserted between commercials, comedy shows, and series; it’s the extension of the novel and newsprint, transposing text into a void of lights and shadows, of flickering movement and electric static.  In the scheme of McLuhan media systems, television occupies a unique place as special transformational powers are accorded to it. At bottom is the idea of visuality and the  129  visual structure of print being effectively displaced by the mosaic model of presentation, which is simultaneous, esemplastic, nonlinear, discontinuous, and synaesthetic. “The mosaic... is not structured visually; nor is it an extension of the visual power” (334).  Indeed, McLuhan finds the spirit of television “antithetic to literacy” (334), a return to iconographic art with the aim of an all-inclusive “tactual mode of perceiving” (334).  I am not arguing that actual television influenced Beckett or that there exists a special deep unexplored relationship between Beckett and television. Rather, by using the term ‘televisual,’ I refer to a certain understanding or vision of television particularly in relation to representation, imagery and description as corresponding to the visual aspects of writing and text in literature; literature, for example via the novel and newsprint-inspired news, is visualized, atmospherized, enlivened, and dreamified in a televisual representation. “The TV image has exerted a unifying synesthetic force on the sense-life of ... intense literate populations” (315).  ‘The televisual’ is that thing in the background that removes the text from the page, electrifies it, sends it into a space of lights and shadows, suggestive of the perforated language that Beckett seeks, of exhausted speech, vision, voice, hope, an image bleeding into a void, dying on the screen.    With regard to the two representative primary texts taken up in the chapter, How It Is and Company as examples of auditory texts, I demonstrate that in his writing, Beckett plays with the idea that sound, as a recording/inscription, is both written and spoken at the same time, the auditory and print logics both preserved and transcended within their respective media. Immersed in the problem of writing, of the written text, inscription, the joys and pains of writing, the physicality/viscerality of writing, as in the grooving and chiseling articulations of How It Is, Beckett occupies a central place in the mosaic of the Twentieth-Century auditory  130  avant-garde. Turning to this pair of shorter post-trilogy texts, How It Is and Company offers an opportunity to capture and theorize the voice submerged in writing. Attentive to the concept of ‘surfaces of writing’ and ‘the continuous surface of inscription’ as images of immanence of expression, I examine these texts as stories of the voice in relation to writing, self, and the world.   To facilitate my reading, I begin the chapter with a section exploring the relationship between Beckett and the poststructuralist thought figuratively represented by Foucault, more specifically the Deleuzian reading of Foucault. The purpose of this section is to contextualize the experiments of Beckett and show synergies at work between the major tropes of philosophical inquiry, which in his work are at times distorted, intensified and magnified, as in a megaphonic rendition, thanks to the way his discourse is dramatically freed from the formal constraints of academic writing and theory. Beckett’s project of exhausting writing, language, and subjectivity resonates thematically with postmodern thinking, fertilizing this very thinking with radical images, personalities, and thought experiments. The key word here is madness, which, as a concept and subject position, comically enables Beckett to explore and implode the strains of the civilizational discourse of reason of the typographic paradigm, the Gutenberg galaxy of McLuhan. Beckett, to paraphrase McLuhan on the scandal of cubism, is the resonating interval where the literary action of the discourse of contemporary thought takes place. One can best hear and listen to Beckett’s prose in that context, dramatizing the difference between these respective genres as equally concerned and explicitly interrogating the boundaries of reason, logic, and the mind.  In the following section, I turn to Beckett’s 1961 How It Is. Here I emphasize Beckett’s attention to the composition of things in terms of connecting and/or interlocking  131  mechanisms, as a system of mechanical workings and waste abstracted into a probability series, offering an organizational plane inherently capable of capturing chaos within in its own flow. At this level, the text aids my investigation of Beckett’s composition as a structure that structures itself, albeit in the form akin to mud. This text likewise, importantly, invokes the notion of presence and present formulation (the problem of immediacy of expression) that resonates with Stein’s continuous present, offering insights into the deterritorialized language manifested through Beckett’s fragmented syntax. Writing as a technology, as a way of mechanically constructing or structuring, and as a ‘plane of immanence’ inscribing the possibility of the present moment, preoccupies Beckett critically here; with regards to both of these predicaments of writing, Beckett tests the limits of scriptural economy, to use a term from de Certeau, who, in one of his chapters in his The Practice of Everyday Life, gives a startling reading of the Gutenberg paradigm of print and the ocular cultures of the written logos, startling as an interpretive framework on Beckett’s trilogy and post-trilogy texts. Starting with How It Is, as one of the instrumental texts in mapping the tension between the aural and the scripted dimensions of the voice, I move on in the last section of the chapter to Company as representative of Beckett’s return to the personal identity problem of the trilogy marked by the relationship between the voice and the self, opening the voice onto the outside, though curiously secluded within the mind, rendering the voice multitudinous and collective.  As Beckett turns to sound in his radio and television plays, as well as live theatre, the performance practice obviously influences his writing. In his shorter prose pieces Beckett successfully employs the auditory text as a recording/inscription of the voice, a discursive multiplication of it, the murmur of the innumerable. Immersed in the problem of writing as a problem of composition and expression, Beckett addresses anew the problem of sound and  132  voice. Though in some sense Beckett’s experimental prose texts turn to voice and sound in an analogous way as the landscape plays of Stein do — as not intended for staging — it is not my intention explicitly to compare and contrast Beckett and Stein or to draw historical continuity lines. The scripted vocalizations of How It Is and Company engage the interrelated problematic of composition, voice, and the multitude, and the focus of this chapter is to explore how these concepts come into play in Beckett. As a more specific direction, I argue that How It Is and Company, through their own narrative strategies, paint the image of the voice as an articulatory space of utterance, the pulsating presence of the living word copresent with the flow of the sign-particle nature of language. Both texts present an aural dimension of subjectivity as a system of inner voices and vocalizations, disconnected from the logical centre of coherence in the form of a stable identity and operating instead through the murmur of words, the sounds and voices of the abstract body as part of the same flow of the real. 2. 2. Groping on the Auditory Field: The Discourses of Sense, Sound, and Self in Beckett and Contemporary Theory I noted in the previous chapter the proclivity of Stein to engage in philosophical discourse, as is evidenced by her scholarly delving into questions of analysis, language, writing, grammar, the structure and orientation of knowledge, as well as her keen interest in the notion of composition as both an aesthetic practice and a philosophical investigation into