Egoist's Ego

Egoist 1:4 Most common words What are the preoccupations collectively of the writers for the second installment of A Portrait?

Clement and Distant Reading

I was fascinated by the Clement article and by her approach to The Making of Americans.  I’m not familiar with Stein’s story or the computer programs Clement used, but it seemed that the text provided the methodology.  Clement, pointing out what seems to be the accepted understanding of Stein’s work, says, “the repetitive form… renders the reader’s usual process of making meaning useless and emphasizes the fact that ‘Sense-making is a fundamentally cultural activity’” (362).  Later, she argues that Stein understood her own text as “foreground[ing] the process of meaning-making rather than meaning itself.”  The article, in many ways, encourages the process of making-meaning as well.  I couldn’t help feeling that Clement’s article was defending “distant reading” through the analysis of Stein’s story.

Just as The Making of Americans has two halves (one traditionally linear and one repetitive, “mimetic reminder of the impossibility of exact replication”), reading similarly has two-halves, close and distant (376).  Clement argues that the D2K application discovered patterns from the “chaos of the more frequent repetition,” and shows textual constructions that “may have [been] missed with close reading” (363).  The overall effect of distant reading and close reading Stein’s text “leads the reader to consider that the formation of knowledge is a cycle of the ongoing creation that results from this push and pull” of the “hole of knowledge” and the “whole of knowledge” (376).

It seems to me that close reading and distant reading provides a similar method of the formation of knowledge conveyed in Stein’s work.  Moretti says distant reading is a “specific form of knowledge,” suggesting that it provides a unique approach or specific vantage point of text.  I’m interested in the preparatory work done before initiating a computer program.  Clement decided to analyze the frequency of repetition in Stein’s work, and then map the “co-occurrences.”  This decision seemed to be based on the background (the critical complaints) of the text.  I want to know what happens to analysis when one algorithm is privileged over another, one motif or technique studied instead of another.  Does distant reading focus too narrowly on the pre-set conditions of the computer software?  Or, are these programs more efficiently mimic the way we read?  I’m interested in what would happen if we distant read A Portrait, and whether it would complement or disagree with our readings.


Stanley Fish NYT "Blog Posts" on DH

 Most of you have already seen these because I posted them in Modernism and New Media, but here are all three blog posts in which Stanley Fish dicusses DH:

The final one may be of particular interest because he mentions some of the larger debates within and about DH and links to what appear to be important articles.  


I don't know if this is necessarily the proper place for this, but we have the ultimate Digital Humanities items in use right now. Facebook. What happens 100 years from now and all of us are dead? Will everything we posted to our pages be archived? Will WE be archived? Will the famous have their Facebooks printed and bound in book form? How is Facebook an adequate measure of the digitized human?


And, how will they know we are dead? What if they go by the fact that we haven't logged in for a long time? What if they accidentally archive someone in the dead file when they are in fact living. What a strange's like being buried alive.

Modernism began in the magazines

 Robert Scholes and Cliff Wulfman's chapter "Modernity and the Rise of Modernism: A Review" in Modernism and the Magazines says that modernism was in many ways not as much a sythesis of sybolism and realism but a struggle between the two with certain magazines and individuals taking certain positions within the debate.  For this week's assignment I looked at The Little Review v5 n5 and several of the pieces in there.  Here is what I paid particular attention to: 


"The Western School" by Edgar Jepson pages 4-9

T.S. Eliot "Sweeney Among the Nightingales," "Whispers of Immortality," "Dans le Restaurant," "Mr. Eliot's Sunday Service." Pages 10-14

James Joyces, Ulysses episode VI pages 17-37

Ezra Pound "Notes from an Ivory Tower" Pages 50-53 

Marsden Hartley, "The Reader Critic: Divagations" Page 59-


In looking at these selections I notice that this issue of TLR includes several highest of the high modernists like Joyce, Eliot, and Pound (as well as prose fiction from Sherwood Anderson and Ford Madox Ford and poetry from W.B. Yeats) alongside articles like the ones by Jepson and Hartley on the aesthetics, functions, and sources of poetry and art.  So in many ways the texts present a situation much like what Bornstein outlines in "How to read a page: modernistm and material textuality."


Bornstein describes how the sites where poems and other works appear originally is significantly different from how they are received in other publications later on (e.g. Norton Anthologies).  His example is how a Keats' poem is originally published in a highly political periodical The Examiner.  Bornstein's point is that the appearance of Keats' poem in a politically left periodical would perhaps associate not only Keats himself as a public figure with these left-leaning politics, but also contribute to how a reader would interpret the poem.  I would argue that a similar situation is taking place in TLR.  Jepson for instance is (mawkishly) praising T.S. Eliot's poetry at the expense of other American poets such as Frost, Lee Masters, and Lindsay.  The fact that not only is Eliot's poetry praised in a publication in which other of his poems also appear, but Jepson and Hartley make larger claims the elements of good poetry and art.  Hartley, like Jepson, praises (he's a little less effusive) Joyce's Episode IV of Ulysses against the realism of Flaubert.  So we have come back around to the struggle that Scholes and Wulfman describe as a struggle between symbolism and realism that takes place in the magazines.


I would say though that some ambiguity arises because it's difficult to determine how writers like Joyce, Pound, and Eliot understood how their work was being "used" in these magazines.  Of course, Pound was likely very aware considering he was on the editorial board, but I do know that he was an ardent supporter of Frost's poetry early on.  However, Jepson's description of the situation opposes Pound and Eliot's work with the likes of Frost.  This suggests to me that whether or not the poetry that appears alongside aesthetic manifestos like Jepson's express similar values, the poems and poets are implicated in the larger debates taking place.   Having read "Signature/Event/Context" and Limited Inc. over break, I'm prepared to discuss the idea of contextual implication a bit further in class if we have some time.  I think it would interact in interesting ways with Bornstein's use of Speech Act Theory and Benjamin's concept of aura.  


Paper Prospectus

As a major world event of the twentieth century, the First World War massively impacted the direction of the entire century that followed; social, political, and geographic landscapes changed throughout Europe, which in turn promoted a shift in art, music, and literature. This change occurred both in and out of Europe, as we have seen throughout this semester, especially given our focus on England, France, and the United States. Each country has a different story to tell of the war, and each presents it in a unique fashion through its literary productions, particularly in little magazines. I plan to analyze the cultural effects of The Great War through its portrayal in American, English, and/or French little magazines from the early twentieth century. I wish to use Gephi to discover what changed in the discourse of little magazines before, during, and after WWI.  Specifically, I intend to analyze the connections between the magazines, their authors, and what they discussed by running this information through Gephi, and interpreting the outcome.

I intend to use the MJP, as well the magazines on reserve at the library. Additionally, I have found a number of articles of interest to help form my argument; one of these is Mark Morrison's “Performing the Pure Voice: Elocution, Verse, Recitation, and Modernist Poetry in Prewar London” from Modernism/Modernity magazine. His extensive discussion of speech's importance in poetry (focusing particularly on performance) ties in well with Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare and Company, both of which paint a vivid picture of prewar and wartime London and Paris.  I also found The Theater of Trauma: American Modernist Drama and the Psychological Struggle for the American Mind, 1900-1930, a book by Michael Cotsell regarding the nature of trauma; Part 2 is of particular interest to me, containing sections “From the Theater of Therapeutics to Dramatic Modernism,” “The Theater of Therapeutics,” and “Trauma, Dissociation and Modernist Dramatic Form.” 


As for the magazines, I will be looking at long-running magazines such as The Little Review, The Crisis, The New Age, Wheels, La Nouvelle Revue Française, and Le Mercure de France, all of which were publishing between 1910-1922 (four years before to four years after WWI), with some variances.  The focus of my search will be anything related to international discourse, particularly pertaining to Germany, the Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From there, a spreadsheet will be compiled: like the first Gephi exercise we did in class, it will contain the title of the work, its date, its author, the type of work, its genre, and the magazine it comes from. Its outcome will determine the direction of the rest of my paper, and allow me to develop a more concrete concept of how The Great War changed the world.



Paper proposal

 For my term paper, I am interested in looking at the Dada movement, particularly from France. I also want to look at the way that L'Étoile de Mer relates to the Dada movement in the notion of drawing meaning from various aspects of disconnected life. For example, in one case in L'Étoile de Mer, the movie compares the woman's beauty to that of a chair or of glass, among other things which I think relates to the notion of Dada art and its ability to challenge normalcy because we don't ordinarily think of things such as chairs to be beautiful.

In one of the Dada publications, shown below, there is a sentence that says, “Ce qu'on écrit sur l'art est oeuvre d'éducation et dans ce sens elle peut exister.” Translated this means, “That which one writes on art is the work of education and in this sense it can exist.” I think this speaks to both the consumption of art and also the belief shown in both L'Étoile de Mer and the dada magazines of challenging the normal because looking at something that is normally perceived one way and then showing it in another facet to shock gives it a new meaning. By writing about a piece of art, it is then given a meaning because someone was forced to interpret it. In my paper, I will explore this idea- of how a reader, or in the case of L'Étolie de Mer, the viewer, is forced to process and redefine the way they think of the art shown and therefore the objects are given a new meaning.

Futurism and its Influence

For my final paper I would like to take a deeper look at the development of Futurism in modernist magazine culture.  Futurism was a primarily Italian art movement that effected many aspects of the art culture. Eventually the trend influenced other cultures as well, and art movements such as Dada, Vorticism and Surrealism used many of the qualities introduced in futurism as they expanded., which we looked at in class, has many images of Futuristic paintings by various artists.  This website has be quite helpful in my quest to better understand the qualities that make up a Futurist work.  Futurism is a blend of abstraction containing geometrical objects and represents energy through its constant movement.

BLAST, July 1915, cover depicts Voticism.  This cover makes bold statements about the war, even though the depiction is not that complicated.  This idea of Voticism was based heavily on Futurism.

In International Futurism in Arts and Literature, Gunter Berghaus states, “A number of recent studies on the reception of Futurism in France have shown, during the first years of the Futurist movement the French reactions towards its theory and artistic praxis were muted, critical, or even hostile” (281).

I would like to prove that even though Futurism stemmed from Cubism, Futurism was a huge influence on magazine print culture through the influence it produced on the art that came after it.


I would love feedback on how to narrow down this topic. Right now I am doing a lot of reading on many different kinds of art to figure out which direction I want to take my paper. 

Paris: Epicenter for Expats


            For my research paper, I also plan to use Sylvia Beach’s bookshop Shakespeare & Co., and her memoir by the same title as central figures in the formation of “Modernism” as we know it today. As both the publisher of the James Joyce’s Ulysses, regarded by most scholars as the quintessential Modernist text, and the owner of the her English bookshop in Paris, Ms. Beach stood at the epicenter of the Modernist movement in post-war Europe, bridging the gap between the hitherto separated Modernist circles in Britain and France.
            To execute this exploration I plan to first illustrate the separate camps in both Britain and France based on a number of key figures: from the British, this will include Ezra Pound (of course) as the central connecting figure between both American and British writers. Though I did not plan to include American writers in this analysis, I found that I could not fully explore the topic without mentioning Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, and (later) Ernest Hemingway. For an analysis of these literary circles I had hoped to employ Gephi network analysis graph between these leading figures and the magazines to which they contributed, but I encountered difficulties with the randomness of timeline entries, which will not be able to account for the wide scope of works from these prolific authors of the period. I will, however, (hopefully) tease out certain connections with the software to at least point out correlations between certain authors.
            On the French side there are even less of these items on the timeline and I will therefore rely more heavily on Beach’s memoir, as well as issues of the NRF and Mercure de France to find connections between contributors as discussed in Beach’s memoir. These figures will center around Valery Larbaud, André Gide, Paul Valéry, and Jean Schlumberger.
            One of the paper’s overarching questions that I hope to address: “Why this move to Paris?” Since other Modernist authors chose to write elsewhere (T.S. Eliot in Britain, W.C.W in the U.S.), I want to address potential reasons for the expatriate community that formed in the 1920’s. I will approach this question from a pre-war perspective, discussing the tendency for Anglophones regard Francophone works as somewhat superior, then from a post-war perspective as a push toward internationalism. The broadness of this topic will require the discussion to remain secondary to the central figures, but will be addressed throughout. Finally, I will discuss potential reasons for the disintegration of the expatriate community, whether ideological, artistic, or simply a change physical proximity.


Upcoming Event: Unit for Criticism Lecture on Joyce and Derrida - Friday, April 22, 4 pm

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to share information about a lecture on Joyce and Derrida being given this Friday through the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory.



Carole and Gordon Segal Visiting Professor of Irish Literature at  Northwestern University

Fellow of the British Academy, University of York, UK

Friday, April 22 • 4 p.m.

English Room 160

“James Joyce Meets Jacques Derrida: Signature and Counter-signature”

It may seem an unlikely conjuncture: the most famous Irish writer of the first half of the twentieth century and the most famous French philosopher of the second half. Yet the writing of James Joyce was of immeasurable importance to Jacques Derrida in his questioning of the entire tradition of Western philosophy. This lecture will explore the relationship between the novelist and the thinker, and ask what we can learn from the way in which Derrida responds to Joyce, or, to put it in the former’s terms, what we are offered by Derrida’s inimitable countersigning of Joyce’s equally inimitable signature.

Lecture is free and open to the public.

This event is organized by Vicki Mahaffey and sponsored by the Department of English and the Unit for Criticism and Theory

AMERICA…YOUR MACHINERY IS TOO MUCH FOR ME: The Influence of Paris on American Writers between 1945 and 1965


Note on My Project:  This essay is a little unorthodox in a few ways.  First, it will cover few, if any, of the magazines discussed during the semester.  Second, it will take the form of a detailed chronology, a "syn-chronology".  Formally, the essay will be divided into three columns in order to aid the reader (and me) to both visually and temporally comprehend the literary interwinings of the era at hand. For now, I'm simply posting  the introduction to the piece and a picture of what the essay will look like.
After the Second World War, into the 1950’s and 1960’s there is a boom of little literary magazines and small presses in New York and Paris. These magazines and presses are publishing young, experimental writers. They are dynamic. Many are short-lived ventures, while others are still with us. In a lot of ways, this trend mirrors the avant-garde European magazine culture of the teens, 1920’s, and 1930’s. Like this earlier era of literary output and energy, Paris is a major influence, an artistic epicenter. To track and understand the social milieu in which this new American literary scene prospered, this essay, in the form of a chronology, takes a synchronic glimpse at the writers, magazines, presses, and literary influences in New York and Paris between 1945 and 1965, while keeping the pulse of the general political and cultural happenings of the era.
Focusing on American writers and publications of this era with both New York and Paris connections, this piece necessarily highlights the Beat and New York School writers. The chronology will bring to the surface important personal and publishing connections to reveal the roots of these literary movements as firmly bedded in Modernist French literature and also heavily influenced by the previous, “Lost Generation” of expatriate American writers. 
Major traces the “lost generation” and of Paris’s vibrant literary were all but vanished by the by 1945. Little Anglophone magazines like The Transatlantic Review, Contact, and Transition were long gone. Sylvia Beach’s bookshop, Shakespeare and Company— hangout of Hemingway, Joyce, Stein, Ford Madox Ford and others in the twenties and thirties—was forced to shut its doors during the German occupation. People simply left the country during occupation. After the war, however, doors were opening for a younger generation of American writers. The GI Bill was passed, allowing former servicemen and writers, like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, to study at the Sorbonne. Others, like John Ashbery, came to France on Fulbright scholarships. For these and other left-leaning and countercultural artists, Paris is an artistic haven, free from the repression of McCarthyism and Cold War anxieties that marked the states in the late forties and fifties. The political and cultural disaffection is palpable in Allen Ginsberg’s then very controversial, demonized, banned and highly praised book, Howl and Other Poems, and no more so than his poem “America,” which taps the zeitgeist of young, hip, American intellectuals of the 1950’s. Here are some opening lines.
America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twentyseven cents January
         17, 1956
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.
I don’t feel good don’t bother me…
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint
There must be some other way to settle this argument. (39)
It isn’t surprising, after reading these lines, that Ginsberg escaped to Paris from 1957 to 1958. And can't we also hear an echo of Gertrude Stein in these lines too, when she said of Paris “It’s not what Paris gives you,” she said, “it’s what it doesn’t take away” (Sawyer-Laucanno 4). It is a push and pull relationship between the U.S. and France; America is pushing these artists out and the romance of Paris pulling them to over the Atlantic.
Of course, the push and pull is not so simple. While Parisian magazines like Merlin, Zero, Points, and Locus Solus and presses like Olympia are publishing avant-garde work by American authors that U.S. publishers and magazines would never consider, the New York scene is shifting as well. A vital antiestablishment literary coterie is developing in New York’s bohemian Greenwich Village and Lower East Side. In the span of these two decades (1945-1965) we find a transatlantic passing of writer’s and work as well as spirit, a passing of the torch from one generation of American writers to the next, from the lost generation to what Jack Kerouac so cleverly calls the “Found Generation” (Phillips 17).
* The Chronology will, of course, be filled in as my research progresses.  This is only an example of form.  It's an experiment.  We'll see how it pans out. 
Works Cited:
Ginsberg, Allen. "America." Howl and Other Poems.  San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1956. 39. Print.
Phillips, Lisa et al. Beat Culture and the New America. Paris: Flammarion. 1995. 17. Print.
Sawyer-Laucanno. The Continual Pilgrimage. New York: Grove Press, 1992. 4. Print


Man Ray & L'Etoile de mer

The first thing that I noticed about this film that relates to surrealism is the blurry aspect of the film which takes away the distinguishing features of the characters as they interact. Another surrealist aspect is the timeline sequence of the film. It cuts from scene to scene using slides in between that say things like, "After all." The non linear progression of the film is surrealist because it defies expectation. Also, the content is highly abstract and it's hard to follow the storyline, if there even is one. At various points we see two figures, underwater creatures and spinning objects. Everything about the content of the film is meant to be unexpected and out of the usual.


One line on a transition slide particularly struck me as odd when it said, "Beautiful, beautiful like a flower of glass." I thought that was odd because when I think of flowers, my mind doesn't immediately jump to glass. This an example of how the film defies expectations, in a simple version. The more obvious version is when it jumps around from part to part with no obvious progression. I really am interested in the blurry aspect most, though. It takes away all features that distinguish a person so that they can't be picked apart from anyone else. Therefore, the person could be anyone. 

Art in Blindman

 For this blog post, I decided to look at art in the Blindman No. 2. The art is very abstract, as we talked about in class previously when we looked at the R. Mutt piece. Likewise, in the issue there is a very abstract picture of a piano morphed with a person. The artwork makes me think that the editor of the magazine intended to slightly offend people because he uses a urinal to represent a fountain, which is a rather grotesque thought. He also uses a representation of a person morphed with a piano, making the person seem more like a machine. In doing this, he seemingly makes fun of the reader and his perception of the world. He suggests that the reader is one with a machine and challenges his view on the world.

Shakespeare and Company

 Reading Sylvia Beach's memoir was a glimpse into an exclusive club, like some kind of secret fraternity without the pomp and circumstance associated. To think of the movers and shakers, so to speak, of the modernist movement circling around a library/bookshop that is described in such a homely, inconsequential manner is startling. The fact that everyone seems a bit broke, that everyone seems to not have fully settled into their lives (and those that have act as if they don't care much for their own influence) really speaks to the connections that formed modernism. The connection between Beach and authors, both youn and established, are portrayed as loosely tied, uncompetitive, and unpretentious. They just seem to come and go easily. Yet being involved in the connections that defined modernist work is also seen to be exclusive. Those with the right friends, those with the right family (to pick up manuscripts from a trash can in the study), those who are willing and able to root up from America, abandon their careers as pianists and move wherever the rest of the authors are--those are the people who are shown to be involved in modernism.

Perhaps perfectly aligned with the exclusive yet relaxed tone of how relationships were formed in this era is the way that important authors are portrayed. They seem unconcerned with the work of others (or potentially with the progression of the movement as a whole); at times, they even seem unconcerned with their own work. Gertrude Stein jokes around and lounges all day, and cares only about her own books. Everyone else is unamusing. Ezra Pound walks into a library and goes around fixing things, invites Beach to look at all his hand-made furniture. There is a weird sense of indifference and lack of airs with the authors who molded art in an important time period. This speaks to modernism's reaction against the pomposity of old--those who molded the movement reflected its ideals in their everyday lives.