Gertrude Stein - Portraits and Repitition

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Movement and Space within “Portraits and Repetition,” by Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Steins’ “Portraits and Repetitions,” facilitates the paradigm of linguistic displacement between subject and listener delineated by the dynamic and effectual relationship of the interrelated, rhythmic patterns characterized by the idea of movement as existence. This conviction denotes the essence of mobility portrayed throughout the text, the individual and collectives while commissioning itself through geographical space and chronological time. Movement is a uniquely “American” quality; it is the “existence of life.” It is the intangible rhythm of behaviors, traits and qualities revealed by the individual that creates a personal involvement between subject and listener; “the thing that is important is the way that portraits of men and women and children are written, by written mean[ing] made. And by made mean[ing] felt […] felt in every generation and by a generation one means any period of time”(287). This ready-made art is the central organizing symbol dancing interchangeably amongst vitality, identity, reality, and the essence of written portraiture, thus producing the insistence of modernity. This contemporary shift allowed Stein to form a mode of continuous, repetitive literature characterized by its presence and meaning of the small infinitesimal differences rendering of that person’s being; the description of insistence. The variation of emphasis, the difference in the repetition, allowing movement to come alive through talking and writing, “that is what makes life that the insistence is different, no matter how often you tell the same story if there is anything alive in the telling the emphasis is different”(PG#). This movement in the arrangement of art with life makes a portrait audible and visual, prohibiting the opportunity for duplication. Producing individual uniqueness compounded by past generations. This individuality, this ability to produce a single, authentic...
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