wheresmycow: (cabinpressure02)
[personal profile] wheresmycow
When I became a literature major, I didn't expect to start hating some of the texts I read. I certainly didn't expect to find that analyzing them could be a horrible chore and not a pleasure at all.

Take my current problem, for example: to write a 25+page in-depth analysis of Gertrude Stein's Three Lives; if possible, to come up with some original insight into its creation, reception, and influence on modern American literature.

What else is there to say, though? I can talk about how much of an influence Cubism had on Stein and her work (and how much influence she had on it, thanks to her and Leo's palling around with the Parisian artist's community); taking that idea further, I can write about how much her experimental style reflected and influenced early 20th-century literary modernism; we can discuss the sexual politics of "The Good Anna" and/or racial politics of "Melanctha", even though I find analyses like these irritating and exhausting; I can go back and mine Stein's work with William James and the Harvard Psychology Laboratory for some juicy tidbits about her characterization style.

Thing is, it's all been done. I'm currently surrounded by a sea of printouts of journal articles talking about everything I mentioned above. The only other approach I can think of at the moment is to discuss the significance of threes in Stein's life and work made manifest in Three Lives (also, Cubism. See, cube = three. Get it? *groans*), and right now I don't know how to spin that one without making me sound like some weird New Age fool.

The problem here, too, is that I have now read Three Lives backwards, forwards, and sideways, and I can tell you this: I hate it. I HATE IT. I have never liked the Modernist Literature movement and its dreary misery and emptiness. I hated the literary and linguistic experimentation and how it was all so dreadfully artificial and frequently got in the way of whatever story there was -- and sometimes there wasn't any story to speak of, nothing but a mess. It takes an extremely talented writer to make his or her experimentation seem fluid and organic, and as far as I was concerned Joyce (and to a certain extent Woolf) did it. I am a formalist at heart, and Miss Stein, all you did here was annoy me. Especially with "Melanctha" and its meanderingly circular way of storytelling. Talk about ending not with a bang but with a whimper.

I want to make it clear that I'm not against all literary and linguistic experimentation here -- literature would stagnate if it didn't occur -- but there's a huge slush pile of mediocrity to wade through, here.

It feels like a rat race, sometimes.

Gosh, that felt good. I'm sure I'll regret a lot of the things I've said here by tomorrow, but right now, it feels really good.

Date: 2011-12-07 12:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darkquarters.livejournal.com
It is now tomorrow. Do you regret the things you said here? :P But they are valid points mind you. I'm even surprised that you're required to make a paper on Stein, when really all that can be said about her work has been said even before I was born (This is speculation on my part).

Date: 2011-12-07 01:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wheresmycow.livejournal.com
Oddly enough, no. O.O But I do regret the tone of petulant wangst.

The problem is that I hate this text so much that I can't stretch my imagination fully enough to think myself out of this box of deep loathing I've constructed around it. You know how long it took me to read "Melanctha"? Two weeks. Two weeks! I kept getting cross-eyed over all the repetitive language and Melanctha's seriously horrible personality (see next comment)

I suppose I can cherry-pick a bunch of random journals, cobble it all together, and call it a day, and I'll admit I am sorely tempted to do that just to get this stupid woman and her books out of my life, but it's just so lazy.

Date: 2011-12-07 01:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wheresmycow.livejournal.com
“I know what you mean now by what you are saying to me now Jeff Campbell. You make a fuss now to me, because I certainly just have stopped standing everything you like to be always doing so cruel to me. But that’s just the way always with you Jeff Campbell, if you want to know it. You ain’t got no kind of right feeling for all I always been forgiving to you.” “I said it once for fun, Melanctha, but now I certainly do mean it, you think you got a right to go where you got no business, and you say, I am so brave nothing can hurt me, and then something, like always, it happens to hurt you, and you show your hurt always so everybody can see it, and you say, I am so brave nothing did hurt me except he certainly didn’t have any right to, and see how bad I suffer, but you never hear me make a holler, though certainly anybody got any feeling, to see me suffer, would certainly never touch me except to take good care of me. Sometimes I certainly don’t rightly see Melanctha, how much more game that is than just the ordinary kind of holler.” “No, Jeff Campbell, and made the way you is you certainly ain’t likely ever to be much more understanding.” “No, Melanctha, nor you neither. You think always, you are the only one who ever can do any way to really suffer.” “Well, and ain’t I certainly always been the only person knows how to bear it. No, Jeff Campbell, I certainly be glad to love anybody really worthy, but I made so, I never seem to be able in this world to find him.” “No, and your kind of way of thinking, you certainly Melanctha never going to any way be able ever to be finding of him. Can’t you understand Melanctha, ever, how no man certainly ever really can hold your love for long times together. You certainly Melanctha, you ain’t got down deep loyal feeling, true inside you, and when you ain’t just that moment quick with feeling, then you certainly ain’t ever got anything more there to keep you. You see Melanctha, it certainly is this way with you, it is, that you ain’t ever got any way to remember right what you been doing, or anybody else that has been feeling with you. You certainly Melanctha, never can remember right, when it comes what you have done and what you think happens to you.” “It certainly is all easy for you
From: [identity profile] wheresmycow.livejournal.com
Jeff Campbell to be talking. You remember right, because you don’t remember nothing till you get home with your thinking everything all over, but I certainly don’t think much ever of that kind of way of remembering right, Jeff Campbell. I certainly do call it remembering right Jeff Campbell, to remember right just when it happens to you, so you have a right kind of feeling not to act the way you always been doing to me, and then you go home Jeff Campbell, and you begin with your thinking, and then it certainly is very easy for you to be good and forgiving with it. No, that ain’t to me, the way of remembering Jeff Campbell, not as I can see it not to make people always suffer, waiting for you certainly to get to do it. Seems to me like Jeff Campbell, I never could feel so like a man was low and to be scorning of him, like that day in the summer, when you threw me off just because you got one of those fits of your remembering. No, Jeff Campbell, its real feeling every moment when its needed, that certainly does seem to me like real remembering. And that way, certainly, you don’t never know nothing like what should be right Jeff Campbell. No Jeff, it’s me that always certainly has had to bear it with you. It’s always me that certainly has had to suffer, while you go home to remember. No you certainly ain’t got no sense yet Jeff, what you need to make you really feeling. No, it certainly is me Jeff Campbell, that always has got to be remembering for us both, always. That’s what’s the true way with us Jeff Campbell, if you want to know what it is I am always thinking.” “You is certainly real modest Melanctha, when you do this kind of talking, you sure is Melanctha,” said Jeff Campbell laughing. “I think sometimes Melanctha I am certainly awful conceited, when I think sometimes I am all out doors, and I think I certainly am so bright, and better than most everybody I ever got anything now to do with, but when I hear you talk this way Melanctha, I certainly do think I am a real modest kind of fellow.” “Modest!” said Melanctha, angry, “Modest, that certainly is a queer thing for you Jeff to be calling yourself even when you are laughing.” “Well it certainly does depend a whole lot what you are thinking with,” said Jeff Campbell. “I never did use to think I was so much on being real modest Melanctha, but now I know really I am, when I hear you talking. I see all the time there are many people living just as good as I am, though they are a little different to me. Now with you Melanctha if I understand you right what you are talking, you don’t think that way of no other one that you are ever knowing.” “I certainly could be real modest too, Jeff Campbell,” said Melanctha. “If I could meet somebody once I could keep right on respecting when I got so I was really knowing with them. But I certainly never met anybody like that yet, Jeff Campbell, if you want to know it.” “No, Melanctha, and with the way you got of thinking, it certainly don’t look like as if you ever will Melanctha, with your never remembering anything only what you just then are feeling in you, and you not understanding what any one else is ever feeling, if they don’t holler just the way you are doing. No Melanctha, I certainly don’t see any ways you are likely ever to meet one, so good as you are always thinking you be.” “No, Jeff Campbell, it certainly ain’t that way with me at all the way you say it. It’s because I am always knowing what it is I am wanting, when I get it. I certainly don’t never have to wait till I have it, and then throw away what I got in me, and then come back and say, that’s a mistake I just been making, it ain’t that never at all like I understood it, I want to have, bad, what I didn’t think it was I wanted. It’s that way of knowing right what I am wanting, makes me feel nobody can come right with me, when I am feeling things, Jeff Campbell. I certainly do say Jeff Campbell, I certainly don’t think much of the way you always do it, always never knowing what it is you are ever really wanting and everybody always got to suffer. No Jeff, I don’t certainly think there is much doubting which is better and the stronger with us two, Jeff Campbell.”

Yes, that is one whole paragraph. You can imagine how the rest of the book is like.
From: [identity profile] kurosawabride.livejournal.com
Jesus. WTF. I couldn't make heads or tails of this block of text. I stopped reading at the risk of getting vertigo. Eurgh.
From: [identity profile] wheresmycow.livejournal.com
And this is why I've been horribly cranky and yelling at people for no good reason over the past week. Can you blame me?

/then again I always get horribly cranky when a deadline looms. You'd think my family would be used to it by now.

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