Scaffolding Repetition: Gertrude Stein, Language Writing, Electronic Dance Music
This essay takes up the critique of repetition in Gertrude Stein, her claim to have written a “continuous present” that “begins again and again” and “includes everything” versus her later qualification that repetition is always shifting in terms of “insistence” and “emphasis”. Even so, Stein focuses on the unfolding of the verbal material primarily in a linear fashion, though resonances and overtones abound. In Electronic Dance Music, from Detroit to Berlin techno, one finds more vertical layerings and “scaffolding”—a term taken from Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky—as a way of building up sonic elements in pleasurable and meaning-bearing ways. Using these two contrasting models of repetition, I read three language-centered poets—Ron Silliman, Leslie Scalapino, and Marjorie Welish—in terms of their complex forms of temporality in poetic form, seen in terms of Stein’s often repeated framework of “beginnings, middles, and ends”. I conclude with a discussion of ”vital movement” in the upbeat, real-time electronic dance music of Berlin DJ Ellen Allien.