Ngai uses examples of work from several figures including, Farrel, Beckett, Godsmith and most predominantly, Gertrude Stein, to make an attempt at understanding the purpose of Stein's 'new type of writing' which intentionally "stupifies" its reader. Stein does this by presenting "words in deliberately "long strings" rather than conventional sentences and where the repetition of particular words and clauses produces a layered or simultaneous effect" (p.250), as she does in As A Wife Has A Cow. This layering, and lack of fully fleshing out concepts by way of grammatically acceptable forms of narration seems be typical of Picasso's Cubist art, with which Stein was notably taken. Stein attempts "to express things seen not as one knows them but as they are when one sees them without remembering having looked at them" (Picasso).
Ngai also explains, by way of Poe, that productive stupefication occurs when "the mind struggles to establish a connection-a sequence of cause and effect-and, being unable to do so, suffers a species of tmeporary paralysis." This paralyis, according to Stein, makes people more "receptive" rather than merely passive. It makes them want to understand what it is they have just read (262).
2 years ago